Former vice president for the Surrey-Tynehead B.C. Liberal Riding Association has said that discontent within the party is making it increasingly susceptible to a no-confidence vote.
“I would not be surprised if we were to see the whip kind of losing his mind as nobody wants to show up to vote,” James Plett said today (March 4) in a telephone interview.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that Kash Heed, Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview, would not be in Victoria for a March 5 vote on the budget. Heed’s absence reduces the Liberal’s majority from five votes to four.
“More absences makes sense to me,” Plett added.
On March 3, Premier Christy Clark held an emergency meeting and told reporters that her cabinet was “absolutely united”.
“On Tuesday, there is going to be a budget vote,” she said, “and we’ll see where the caucus stands.”
A number of high-level party members have parted ways with the B.C. Liberals since the NDP released an embarrasing email. The document outlined a plan to use government funds for partisan purposes and win the support of non-white voters with apologies for historical wrongs. Others have distanced themselves or been thrown under the bus.
Plett announced his resignation on March 1, stating that he was leaving the B.C. Liberals on account of “the pattern of arrogance, deceit, and downright unethical behaviour of the BC Liberal Party.”
His resignation was the fourth high-profile defection in Surrey, an area with a large South Asian population and potential swing ridings. The premier’s deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, also resigned amid calls for Clark to step down. And today, John Yap, B.C. minister responsible for multiculturalism, removed himself from Clark’s cabinet pending an investigation led by John Dyble, deputy minister to the premier.
Grilled at a caucus meeting today, Clark apologized for the email and vowed that Dyble’s investigation would be impartial.
“I want to apologize for the ideas in it and I want to apologize for the language in it as well,” she said.
John Horgan, NDP MLA for Juan de Fuca and the Opposition house leader, said that the Liberal’s shrinking majority is already evident in the B.C. legislature.
“I did note today, Mr. Yap—who has been removed from cabinet—he wasn't in the legislature,” Horgan said. “I noticed that Mr. Heed, who has been very vocal, wasn't in the legislature. So depending on whether or not they show up, that draws the margin down.”
Speaking shortly after Clark announced that Yap was resigning from his cabinet job, Plett said that he “cannot believe the cowardice of Christy Clark”. Plett noted that Yap was reportedly not involved with the so-called “Multicultural Strategy”, and was not holding the position of minister responsible for multiculturalism at the time it was drafted.
“It kind of seems like John [Yap] is taking the fall so that Christy Clark can say that she is doing something,” Plett said.
You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.