Since Liberal Party in BC faced itself with leadership race and all calculations who will be next leader we just heard opinions from journalists and mainstream communication channel’s, but rare voice from the past emerged in Saturday’s newspapers. Gordon Gibson, former LPBC leader, comes out with some sort of history class for all BC citizens and especially for LPBC members in sunrise of leadership race. Even if his article goes way back to the 1930’s and re-examines Liberal’s position on the political sky of BC, several of his thesis are really interesting and worth of consideration.
“Since the 1930’s, politics in this province have been defined by New Democratic Party. Most British Columbians are either for or against them. Since BC is a centre-to-right province by majority, the NDP is out as long as the centre-right has its act together, under whatever name. When it doesn’t, as in 1972, 1990, 1996 and maybe 2013, we get a socialist government”, said Gibson.
Where is today centre-right political wing?
Unpopular, unsupported and currently divided between options where to go in the future. Situation from 1972 to 1996 could be repeated not only in 2013 but even earlier if new Liberal leader calls early election upon getting party support. Wrong strategy could lift to the power BC NDP even in this highly divided condition and led by semi-unpopular leader Carol James.
Is there possibility for situation 2001?
I don’t see why not. New strategy, new policies away from current ones should lift anyone into Premier office with enormous support from BC citizens. But in the same moment any new leader must be careful to don’t forget that Gordon Campbell is still active in politics, and that he’s still ready for political fight on his own agenda. Fight against Campbell’s policies could be fight against you because he could trig some of his supporters in effort to avoid any changes, and to try turning that in his favour.
“The upshost [in 1996] was that Campbell as new leader had little support outside of Lower Mainland. But you cannot win British Columbia without major support in the hinterland”, writes Gibson.
How important hinterland will be in this race?
As always hinterland will be really important, especially those parts that are hardly devastated by recent recession, parts with dominant forest industry [who’s in a great depression] and those parts whom are not always on the media radar. Those parts of BC can be large help to possible candidates as Coleman or Bennett, in some sort they could be help to Watts because she has some results in transformation rural Surrey to urban Surrey. In the multi-cultural region as BC is wide attention should be paid on two large and influential populations, even if they are not monolith as others. Chinese and East Indian populations will play significant roles in election of new leader and on the next provincial elections. For example Richmond Chinese population could support new Liberal leader upon getting connected to the other parts of Lower Mainland through Canada Line, and enormous attention which they get during Olympic Games. With help of Liberal government they also get decent amount of investment in their community. In Surrey Dianne Watts, if she runs, will have a large and important support from Sikh community which cooperate pretty good with her administration what could be positive ballast on her account.
“It has [Liberal Party] to find the best new leader to win the next election. It has to get itself out of debt and deal with the HST issue. The new leader will also need some financial manoeuvring room”, he said.
Debt, HST, and manoeuvring
To get rid of current BC deficit new Liberal leader must to be financial genius and to avoid 2009 situation when Campbell said that deficit would be $495 million and then later to transform that in $2.8 billion. Also it would be interesting to see Campbell’s last budget which could be trick for new leader and a party in sunrise of new provincial elections and election campaign. HST’s future will be decided or by new Premier and Legislature majority or by citizens on Referendum in late 2011. If Campbell’s successor decide to get rid of HST deficit could go over $3 billion because it will be forced to return $1.6 billion to Federal government. Extra costs will be $30 million, according to Colin Hansen, needed to reinstate PST and its structure for normal functioning. Gibson said that new person will need financial manoeuvring room. In this scenario any manoeuvres will be impossible without large investments which will bring more cash into the budget or exercising some of the wide popular populist action from government benches towards citizens.
Gibson mentioned also two different options for party elections, and one of them was an option which is chosen by Party Executive on Saturday’s meeting in Vancouver.
“Since the second option would take the leadership itself well past the opening of the Legislature, it would be essential that Mr. Campbell step down to an interim Premier (Colin Hansen, say) so that this ongoing actions and unpopularity will not compromise the chances of the new leader”, said Gibson.
In the case of Gordon Campbell this option is just a dream. We all know way of his leadership, narcissism, sometimes tyranny especially towards women’s in his cabinet and around him. As much as he loves his colleagues in the Cabinet, including Colin Hansen, it’s doubtful that he will give someone else a chance to play a last play in this game. That’s a reason why he said that transfer of power will go smoothly; maybe he thinks that he can change his wisdom with new budget or some of new policies in last months of his mandate? That also could be his plan to destabilize new leader and Party leadership and to grab some popularity in the future so he can try again in 2013 to become leader and Premier for fourth time. LPBC should avoid situation to have Campbell after Campbell, or it will face itself with grave danger as Gibson wrote that in his article.