Recall campaign fails to unseat Comox Valley MLA
The recall campaign against Comox Valley MLA Don McRae has failed.
Canvassers collected just 5,181 signatures, well short of the 19,348 required to unseat the rookie MLA recently named agriculture minister by Premier Christy Clark.
The campaign was a response to the way in which the BC Liberals introduced the harmonized sales tax, and McRae's support of it.
"I had lots of people in the community saying they weren't going to sign the recall," McRae said. "Some people said they definitely didn't vote for me in the last election but they felt recall was being abused.
"Think about the dollars and time that was wasted," he added. "I think people knew about the HST and the referendum. You didn't need to have a recall in the Comox Valley."
He questions the rationale behind picking the Valley as the second recall location in recent months in B.C. The first campaign against Victoria MLA Ida Chong also failed.
Still, McRae feels the two-month campaign has yielded some benefits.
"In some ways, even though I didn't like the extra workload, I can't complain about the added name recognition, both Comox Valley-wise and provincially," he said, adding Clark would not have twice visited the Valley were it not for recall. "I wouldn't have got to know her at the level I did."
In addition to protesting the HST, recall supporters believe McRae sided with government to lower taxes on large corporations and impose higher taxes on individuals.
Despite missing the mark, recall proponent Kathryn Askew feels the campaign prompted important changes, including former premier Gordon Campbell's resignation and the HST referendum.
“A lot of good has come from the anxiety the government has been feeling over recall,” said Askew, a former teacher of McRae's. “You can bet your HST refund that none of that backpedalling would have happened if the people had not stood up and said ‘No.' We have shown this government that they can’t treat people like property. Now they know citizens will take action.
“I hope Don McRae and his birds-of-a-feather have learned their lesson,” she added. “You can’t go into an election campaign chirping one thing and then parroting the opposite.”
Had the campaign been conducted in August, business consultant Bruce McAra feels McRae would have lost his job.
“Anger over the HST has dissipated since Mr. Campbell's resignation," McAra said. "I hope Mr. McRae takes a lesson from all this."
A total of 135 volunteer canvassers collected signatures. While the campaign gave voters a voice, canvasser Gordon Bailey said capturing 40 per cent of names on a voter’s list is an impossible task.
“What we learned, in fact, is that recall provisions are such that it is nearly impossible to meet the statutory standards for recall," Bailey said. "It is a process designed to fail.”
Recall legislation came into effect in 1995. Of 24 approved applications, 22 have failed while petitions are underway in the Kamloops-North Thompson and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows electoral districts.