Earlier this year, I got to choose a movie that was shown at the Vancity Theatre as part of its Cinema Salon series.
I picked Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry because it's so hilarious seeing how the egotistical protagonist keeps alienating all those who were close to him before he eventually lands in Hell.
If this sounds like the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark's leadership, that's purely coincidental.
However, I couldn't resist borrowing the film's title before dissecting the recent announcement by Vancouver–False Creek MLA Mary McNeil that she won't seek reelection.
In honour of Woody, let's just call it "Deconstructing Mary".
What Mary said: Today I am announcing my decision to not seek re-election as the MLA for Vancouver-False Creek in the upcoming provincial election. I have informed the Premier of my intention to stay on as MLA until the election in May, and that I will be happy to serve in any capacity she requires.
What Mary meant: Christy Clark can go to hell as far as I'm concerned! I'm so desperate to get out of here that I'm not even going to hang around long enough to collect an MLA pension.
What Mary said: My decision comes after much discussion with my family over this summer. It was not an easy one to make as I have very much enjoyed my time in public office.
What Mary meant: Kevin Falcon advised me that any line about spending time with the family is a code word to Conservatives that we'll regroup under a new banner in the future.
What Mary said: When making such an important decision as this, there are many factors that need to be considered, just as there were many factors when I first decided to run for public office over four-and-a-half years ago. The most important for me was my family, especially my thirteen wonderful grandchildren, who I know have lost out on quality time with their grandmother these past four years.
What Mary meant: I hope Kevin doesn't think I'm laying on the family stuff with too much gusto.
What Mary said: I want to sincerely thank Premier Christy Clark for giving me the tremendous opportunity to serve as the Minister of Children and Family Development this past year-and-a-half. She knew before I did how much I would enjoy this portfolio, and for that I am so very grateful to her personally. I am grateful for her trust in me, and her never-ending support. It has been a true pleasure to work with her to make the lives of the children and youth in this province better.
What Mary meant: Christy should kiss my ass for taking on the toughest portfolio in government and saving her from the embarrassment caused by my predecessor, Mary Polak. I cleaned up this goddamned mess and never once did Christy fully and publicly acknowledge this.
What Mary said: In addition, my time spent as the Minister of Citizen Services, and the Minister of State for the Olympics and ActNow BC, under then Premier Gordon Campbell, was also a tremendous honour. I want to recognize his dedication to British Columbia over the past decade and I know that his efforts made this province better for us all.
What Mary meant: Gordon knew how to keep Conservatives like me and Liberals rowing in the same direction—and it's too bad that Christy never quite figured out that part of the job.
What Mary said: British Columbia has been a leader in so many areas, and to have had the opportunities to participate as I have these past few years has been truly fantastic. Has it always been an easy time? No, I can’t say that it has. But I am very thankful for having been given so many occasions to work with so many great people.
What Mary meant: Those are code words for "I really hate politics. I had no idea what a shitty job it can be."
What Mary said: I would also thank my colleagues for their camaraderie and for their hard work and dedication to British Columbia. I now know firsthand the personal dedication and sacrifices of each and every politician, and I want to publicly acknowledge them for their hard work. Every person putting themselves into this life deserves recognition for doing so, as do their families who also sacrifice time without their loved ones around for a great deal of the time they serve in public office.
What Mary meant: Now is the time to be nice to everyone because who knows when I might need to call in a favour in the future?.
What Mary said: I also want to acknowledge our B.C. public service for their efforts to make this province better today than it was yesterday. Each and every day they come to work to make a difference, and they do. I also want to thank all of the dedicated staff in each of the ministries who without their support, ministers would not be able to make the tough, challenging decisions that are required.
What Mary meant: I'm not quitting because of the permanent staff.
What Mary said: Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank my constituents for allowing me to represent them in Victoria. Vancouver–False Creek was one of the new constituencies established in 2008, and it is in a constant state of change still today. Although it is located in the middle of a large city, it is very much a neighbourhood with singles, couples, and families out walking and experiencing the very best of city life. It has been a privilege to serve the residents of Vancouver-False Creek.
What Mary meant: I don't want to get my ass kicked in the next election by an NDP candidate who drove her car into a house.
What Mary said: I am often asked by those I have known for years, “what has it been like in politics? Are you glad you did it?” I can say, without hesitation, it has been one of the most interesting and exciting times of my life. I have learned more in these past few years than I have in any other role previous to it. I regret not getting involved earlier than I did, and in many ways, that is what made this decision as difficult as it was for me to make.
What Mary meant: Even if I defeated the woman who drove her car into a house, I still don't want to be a member of the party with the third-most seats in the legislature.
What Mary said: I look forward to my next challenge, whatever that may be. I also look forward to welcoming a new Liberal Government on May 14, 2013, under the leadership of Premier Christy Clark–a government that will continue to work every day to ensure that British Columbia, and all its great people, reaches its true potential.
What Mary meant: I still haven't lost my sense of humour.
Mary McNeil, MLA, Vancouver-False Creek
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.