Christy Clark is looking more and more like Bill Vander Zalm

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      Political history doesn't repeat itself—but sometimes events bear a strong resemblance to what's occurred before.

      In 1990 and 1991, Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm was in serious trouble with his colleagues.

      He had come in as leader with the support of just three caucus members in the campaign. The party establishment preferred then-attorney general Brian Smith.

      Vander Zalm also developed policy on the fly, sometimes not even consulting his colleagues.

      And the Zalm was a populist who liked going straight to the people—often over the heads of his cabinet, the media, and his party's financial backers.

      More than two decades later, Premier Christy Clark is looking like a female version of the the beleaguered Socred premier. 

      Like Vander Zalm, she quit cabinet between elections, setting herself up as a leader-in-waiting should the incumbent falter.

      When Clark was elected party leader in 2011, she was only supported by one member of caucus.

      And since then, she has relied on charisma, like Vander Zalm, only to see her poll numbers fall, suggesting an inevitable NDP victory.

      Tomorrow, the B.C. Liberal cabinet will hold an emergency meeting in Vancouver to deal with the latest crisis: the premier's office's involvement in a sketchy plan to use government resources to help the B.C. Liberals win votes from minority communities.

      Through it all, Clark has remained cheerful in public, insisting this is a minor flap that's easily resolved.

      Vander Zalm exuded the same confidence back in 1991 until he was forced to resign in a conflict-of-interest scandal involving the sale of Fantasy Gardens.

      Shortly after Clark won the leadership, Vander Zalm told the Straight that she wouldn't be able to make peace with the candidates she defeated.

      "You're dealing with politicians," he said at the time. "And politicians have big egos, and they're all, at least in their minds, the smartest people in the world."

      Tomorrow if the B.C. cabinet plunges a knife in the back of the premier, don't be surprised if Vander Zalm blurts out: "I told you so."



      Charlie Demers

      Mar 3, 2013 at 1:42am

      "Female version of the last Socred premier"? Wasn't the last Socred premier (female) Rita Johnston?

      James G

      Mar 3, 2013 at 2:25am

      A good read and we will see if that blood in the water gets the sharks circling. Please note that Rita Johnston, not Bill Vander Zalm was the last Socred Premier of British Columbia. Bill Vander Zalm was the penultimate Socred Premier of B.C. Christy Clark would not then be able to look like a female version of the last Socred Premier ... etc.

      Schadenfreude Festival

      Mar 3, 2013 at 9:22am

      We are coming up to the Ides of March so this doesn't look good for Chrusty.

      I certainly hope she stays in because I am looking forward to a huge defeat for the BC Liberals. The glorious fireworks as they go down in flames will be much better the resignation.

      Charlie Smith

      Mar 3, 2013 at 10:11am

      James G and Charles,

      Thanks for that. I shouldn't write in such a hurry and I should pay more attention to the footnotes of history.

      I changed "last" to "beleaguered" as a result of your comments.

      Charlie Smith


      Mar 3, 2013 at 11:34am

      My big worry is that the Libs will get rid of her, then postpone the election for a year, as they constitutionally have the right to do. So another year of this venal gang, with a chance that the corporate media can once again rally what is, after all, a right-wing province to give this party another chance. On the other hand, their problem is that an obvious heir apparent isn't all that obvious.


      Mar 3, 2013 at 12:40pm

      I've always thought that there should be an instant election whenever someone just gets to glide into Premiership because the last one resigns. I hate having some transparently pandering, scheming, and fake-smiley twit like Clark that no one voted for in my face.

      I get why this happens, but it sucks.


      Mar 3, 2013 at 1:06pm

      She is much better looking than BVZ. She may go out as the second unelected female Premier but she is still the best looking Premier in Canadian history!


      Mar 3, 2013 at 4:01pm

      James, you need to put your glasses back on.


      Mar 4, 2013 at 12:51am

      Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege. - Anonymous

      Charlie Demers

      Mar 5, 2013 at 2:15am

      Hey, as one imperfect Charlie to another... it happens to the best of us. ;-)