Christy Clark won the B.C. Liberal leadership and the province’s premiership with the public support of only one sitting Liberal MLA — a little-known backbencher at that.
That fact is telling, for a couple of reasons.
Kevin Falcon and George Abbott split the support of the remaining government MLAs between them, a point that speaks to the current regime favouring some version of the status quo.
On the other hand, roughly 52 per cent of those who cast ballots in Saturday’s leadership poll — more than half of eligible voters weren’t card-carrying Liberals when Gordon Campbell resigned — felt confident this “outsider” was the best person for the job.
Since she’s been out of political spotlight for six years, Clark may give the Liberals their best chance to defeat the NDP. Unless, that is, she makes a major gaffe on policy — read: the HST — or gives voters any sniff that this is still Gordon Campbell’s Liberal Party.
Many voters will remember Clark as Campbell’s deputy premier and minister of education from the time the Liberals took office in 2001 to 2004, a time of heavy across-the-board cuts to ministry budgets.
Nonetheless, British Columbia’s second female premier (Rita Johnston led for 200 days in 1991) — a woman who backed away from the messy political fray to focus on raising her son — deserves a chance to lead the province out of a difficult time.
How she manages, under a tight fiscal framework, to initiate her “Families First Agenda for Change” focus — a campaign slogan seemingly lifted from an NDP brochure — will go a long way toward determining the public’s view of Clark and her government leading up to the next election.
She could wind up B.C.’s second short-term woman premier, or be the breath of fresh air the Liberals need to recapture the public’s favour.