A lot of residents in Point Grey, especially those who would have voted Liberal but didn’t bother to go to the polling booth, must be feeling pretty foolish right now. Instead of electing the Premier, they have elected a newbie MLA, David Eby, whose ego is so inflated by his “victory” over Clark that he plans to rush off to whatever riding the premier chooses for a by-election to help run an aggressive campaign against her, personally.
One would think that his Leader Adrian Dix would put the reins on Eby and quietly whisper in his ear that Eby is sounding like a young, ignorant fool who isn’t prepared to accept the verdict that the people of BC just delivered. One would think Dix would suggest that Eby start to learn what is involved in the day-to-day constituency work required to properly represent the people of Point Grey. One would think it prudent that Dix do so to blunt this egotist, who has already mused about taking over the NDP leadership. Instead, Dix has announced that he will join Eby and launch an aggressive campaign against Clark in whatever riding she chooses.
It is a mystery to figure out what the NDP have learned from their recent loss of a twenty-two point lead and a general election campaign. Frankly, I am surprised that a political party that for most of its history has served as Official Opposition in British Columbia, and therefore knows Parliamentary convention well, would take such an immature position that is so disrespectful of the voters in this province.
Despite the protestations from some members of the NDP, who are still smarting from their self inflicted wounds, Christy Clark is the premier of British Columbia, seat or no seat. The Liberals have been elected to govern for the next four years, and no amount of effort by the NDP in a by-election will change that.
It is hard to fathom what the NDP think they will achieve by launching an aggressive campaign against Clark. By doing so they will break with a long-established parliamentary tradition of “safe passage” for a prime minister/premier-elect who has won a mandate from the electorate at large and needs a seat in the House, be it the National Parliament or a Provincial Legislative Assembly. Clark needs to be in the Legislature, where the NDP can challenge the government on relevant matters as an effective Official Opposition should do.
What they certainly will do is unmask the reality of the passive-aggressive nature of the NDP under Adrian Dix. During the campaign, and even later, while sifting through the ashes of what was left of his election game plan, Dix tried to make us believe that he is a soft spoken, nice guy who is above personal attacks and nasty vindictive politics. I can attest first hand that the NDP campaign engaged in plenty of vitriolic and personally abusive attacks that intensified as it became increasingly obvious that they were again going to be rejected by British Columbia voters.
And, the NDP need to tread carefully.
They have done well in the role of Official Opposition over the decades. A sound opposition is integral to a functioning parliament, and until now it has been a role that the NDP have taken for granted. With the exception of three years from 1972 to 1975, and ten years from 1991 -2001, they have held the role of opposition in one form or another since 1933. But there is a new kid in town, Andrew Weaver, who is sitting as the first Green Party MLA.
Weaver is a very intelligent man who, unlike Eby, is in no rush to make a headline, but will likely approach politics in the same methodical, mature, and sensible manner that he approaches his science. He has already demonstrated that personal ambition is not his driving motivation by rejecting the suggestion that he immediately take on the mantle as Party Leader after Jane Sterk lost her bid to win a seat.
What motivates Weaver is a desire for government to recognize the need for sound environmental policy in the face of a growing environmental crisis. That is what opposition should be doing, and if he can marry a sound limits-to-growth economic policy, one that resonates with British Columbians, to the environmental initiatives already in the Green playbook, he will almost certainly mount a challenge to the NDP as the party of real opposition in BC.
The NDP would do well to reflect upon the bigger picture, rather than spend their energy in an aggressive attack on Christy Clark, one which they will almost certainly lose both in terms of the vote and more importantly in the minds of British Columbians, who will see it for what it is; a self-serving vindictive play that does not serve the public interest.
If the NDP want to remain relevant to British Columbians, they should listen to those older, wiser minds suggesting that they yield to convention, rather than to continue to listen to the authors of their latest election campaign. After all, how well did the authors of the last NDP campaign do in planning and running the last election?