Were voters witnessing some B.C. Liberal hardball tactics when Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy got up in the legislature and called the Leader of the Opposition a thief and a liar?
Thus far, this story has been portrayed in the media as a bumbling, stupid politician going haywire.
To reinforce this perception, Bloy's remarks were rejected yesterday by Premier Christy Clark.
I'm not convinced that the event is necessarily this cut-and-dried.
Bloy was the only MLA to support Clark's leadership run—in effect, he was her most loyal member of caucus. Clark has always specialized in launching devastating verbal attacks on her opponents, dating back to her days as an Opposition MLA in the 1990s.
We saw this last year in the Vancouver–Point Grey by-election, when Clark's campaign went extremely negative against her NDP opponent, David Eby.
Clark recently hired former aides to Stephen Harper, who has turned gutter politics and character assassination into a political art form.
Just witness the Harpercons' drive-by smears on former Liberal leaders Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. The Harpercons previously claimed in ads that Ignatieff was only in it for himself. An online ad featured a bird crapping on Dion.
People who use these methods wouldn't be immune to calling a political leader a thief and a liar, especially if they were desperate to win a by-election later in the week in Chilliwack-Hope.
Keep in mind that if the B.C. Liberals come third there and in Port Moody–Coquitlam, Clark is probably finished as B.C. premier.
The Harpercons have learned that the key to success in politics is framing their opponents in the most negative light. They use these frat-boy tactics because they believe they influence public perceptions.
Bloy, who resigned from cabinet earlier this year, went off on his bizarre tangent during a debate in the legislature over smart meters.
As a veteran MLA, he knows that whatever he says in the legislature is privileged—this means that he can't be sued for defamation.
He also sat on the legislative committee for parliamentary reform, ethical conduct, standing orders, and private bills.
The media think Bloy is a buffoon, so if there was a plan to frame Dix in a certain negative way, he would be the perfect spear carrier.
The ideal time would be a Monday morning so the story would command the news agenda at the start of the week.
So what did Bloy do? He linked Dix to former NDP MP Svend Robinson, who is loathed by many right-wingers in the Chilliwack-Hope constituency for advancing equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Bloy also suggested that Dix did something unethical to his wife. This offered the added benefit of possibly unsettling apolitical female voters, who have abandoned the B.C. Liberals in droves.
Bloy's remarks were repeated on newscasts across the province because legislature debates are televised. People who don't pay any attention to politics were left to wonder if there's something wrong with Dix. You know the old saying: where there's smoke, there's fire. And Bloy then mumbled an apology after this frame around Dix was created.
I'm not saying that this is necessarily what happened. But given the nastiness of the B.C. Liberals—as demonstrated in previous attack ads on Dix and on B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins—it's certainly not out of the question.
If it's even within the realm of possibility, it's further evidence that this B.C. Liberal government needs to be sent packing—and the sooner, the better.
Harry Bloy makes an ass of himself, but why?
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.