In retrospect, maybe we should have been able to predict the provincial Liberals would choose Christy Clark as their new leader and our second female premier.
A backlash against the autocratic Gordon Campbell is not a surprise after his high-handed introduction of the HST provoked a citizens’ revolt and forced him from office.
What’s harder to evaluate is how much party members wanted to shift the Liberals, who have been that in name only since Campbell stole the party from Gordon Wilson, closer to the middle.
Much has been made of Clark’s ties to the federal Liberals and some have noted how, as a radio talk show host, she criticized the Harper Conservatives. They were a much more logical federal ally for the Campbell-led B.C. Liberals.
As Clark correctly said recently, all political parties are coalitions. The NDP is a diverse coalition of groups whose interests sometimes clash (unions and environmentalists), while Red Tories are Conservatives who could find a home among federal Liberals.
Clark, though, will discover that winning the leadership contest and B.C.’s top political job was the easy part.
Rank-and-file party members chose her although she had no support from the government caucus. Besides small ‘C’ conservatives among the B.C. Liberals, she will have to placate those whom she defeated in the leadership race.
It’s safe to assume Kevin Falcon, Mike de Jong and George Abbott will get plum cabinet posts, not the Children and Families graveyard where Campbell consigned then-deputy premier Clark, leading to her temporary exit from politics.
If they’re smart, the Liberals will close ranks behind Clark as she tries to repair the party’s damaged credibility, get them past the HST mess and lead them into the next election.
Meanwhile, isn’t it ironic that the Liberals picked a female to lead them, while the gender-obsessed NDP will choose from among five male candidates?