Martyn Brown: You know your party’s in trouble when…

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      Over the next three days, B.C. Liberals will be casting their leadership ballots. Six candidates are all anxiously awaiting the outcome as they try to get out their vote.

      They probably all had a restless night last night, as that "super blue blood moon" cast its bloody glow on their star-crossed skies.

      Where once they were lovers, all swooning each other’s praises as they gushed about their former leader, today they are as far apart as we are from that lonely orb that similarly mocks our mortality as fallible specimens of questionable consquence.

      What does the future hold in store for them, those six who dared to shoot for the sun?

      Who will prevail in that leadership race ignored by so many, eclipsed as it has been by the shadows of scandals that its chief stars wish upon themselves?

      From the ICBC scandal and the foreign money laundering scandal, to the membership sign-up scandal, that underwhelming exhibition of inadequacy has shone a light on all that most Liberals had hoped it would leave behind.

      Namely, on the myriad reasons why it is tough to take that party or any of its leadership candidates seriously as worthy alternatives to their own flawed examples, in government, in opposition, and throughout their campaign.

      I can almost picture those candidates looking out their windows in the dead of night, drink in hand, wondering what it all means, and how they could go so tragically wrong.

      Ah, what cruel moon is this that so torments that party with strange luminance?

      What callous God would ever wish us to see such devious deeds and unflattering truths about its own subjects and objects?

      Only to hear the moon answer: bite me, baby-pants. You brought it on yourself.

      Blue moon. We knew just what they were there for. We heard them singing a prayer for…someone they never cared for. Without a dream in their hearts. Without love of their own.

      It has been a sorry spectacle to behold these past six months, but on Saturday, thank Christ, it will all be over. One of them will be elected to pretend they are a leader.

      And then the real finger pointing, recriminations, rebellions, and shitstorm will begin.

      No matter who “wins” the leadership—and I still predict it will be Todd Stone, incredible as that sounds—the new moon will make many Liberals crazy.

      Will it be a harsh mistress, or a man in the moon? God only knows.

      Yet when the pixie dust settles on Saturday night, I’m guessing that the final tally will put Dianne Watts second, Andrew Wilkinson third, Michael de Jong fourth, Michael Lee a close fifth, and Sam Sullivan a distant last.

      Heresy, I know. Especially for all those Lee fans in Metro Vancouver who have been so keen to buy into the pundit-fuelled hype that he is the one to watch.

      Perhaps he is. Though if anything, I suspect I am probably most underestimating Watts.

      One would think she is still the odds-on favourite to win, as the party’s best hope for optical renewal.

      Whatever challenges her leadership might pose for party unity or for fighting proportional representation, compounded by her lack of a seat in the legislature, and however lacking her vision seems to be, many Liberals will choose her as the least potent of all poisons.

      Obviously, I really have no idea and zero inside knowledge of how any of the candidates might fare in converting their media spin into tangible momentum that yields actual votes in the party’s preferential balloting system. Still, it’s fun to speculate.

      After the votes are cast online or by telephone, there is little for members to do but wait until their choices are tabulated.

      They might entertain themselves by biding their time with trivial distractions from the race that wasn’t, and from the fate it will invite for their party, depending on who is selected.

      With that, I offer my top 10 list in answer to the following conundrum:

      You know your party’s in trouble when…

      10. Only one of its six leadership contestants is a woman—and even she wouldn’t join your party until she saw a chance to lead it.

      9. Four of your party’s six leadership candidates pen a letter bent on rejecting new party members, in attacking the candidate they really fear is most appealing to the broadest number of voters.

      8. Sam Sullivan’s ideas start making sense.

      7. Mike de Jong and Andrew Wilkinson each view the other as the party’s best second bet—and the latter’s co-campaign chair blasts his own candidate for offering that endorsement.

      6. Surrey’s reigning Queen Conservative, Dianne Watts, is too “liberal” for what’s left of a Liberal party that views arch conservative Michael Lee as a moderate.

      5. Your party has about half as many members as it did 16 years ago, and not even half of them will likely care enough to vote for their next leader.

      4. Your party’s “neutral” interim leader endorses as his first choice for leader the only candidate who might be more widely despised than himself for his failures in policing gaming, in frustrating affordable housing, and in driving ICBC into the dirt.

      3. Todd Stone, of Triple-Delete fame, is lecturing “Open Mike” de Jong on the evils of hiding public information that he commissioned and claims he never saw.

      2. You are not entirely confident about voting for any of the male leadership candidates, reluctant as they have been to campaign on the winning slogan “me too!”

      1. The two leadership candidates that most hurt the party’s reputation in recent months are probably still the ones that John Horgan most hopes will lose.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at