What's next for Christy Clark after the Westside-Kelowna by-election?

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      Even though the provincial governing party has won only one by-election in the past 30 years, it's practically inconceivable that Premier Christy Clark will lose tomorrow's contest in Westside-Kelowna.

      Westside-Kelowna is one of the safest B.C. Liberal seats in the province. Ben Stewart won in each of the last two general elections with well over 50 percent of the popular vote.

      People who work in the wine, tourism, agriculture, and construction industries in the West Kelowna area are probably thinking that if they vote for Clark, their issues will move up on the government agenda. 

      So assume Clark has already won and is on her way to the legislature. What happens next?

      With a strong majority and a bunch of newly minted cabinet ministers, she will probably enjoy a relatively smooth ride until 2014.

      There will be some frustrations from Lower Mainland mayors about a looming transit referendum.

      The B.C. Liberals could also come under scrutiny in connection with dirty tricks during the election campaign. It's conceivable that one or two cabinet ministers' victories could appear tainted by the end of the year, but that's not likely to drag down the government.

      The real problems will likely surface in the 2014–15 budget.

      Canada's economy isn't exactly firing on all cylinders and the recent provincial budget will only be balanced with large asset sales.

      Clark foolishly promised to balance the budget each year without raising taxes leading up to the next election. That's looking increasingly difficult for next year.

      The health authorities are already lowering the boom on spending. And as the public learns more about these cutbacks, the focus will likely shift to the B.C. Liberal government.

      Clark has also left some talented political veterans on the backbenches, including Gordon Hogg, Moira Stilwell, Marvin Hunt, and Sam Sullivan.

      This has the potential of creating a rump of dissatisfied caucus members who, by next year, will have plenty of time on their hands to foment a rebellion should Clark stumble politically.

      By year three of her mandate, Clark could find herself in even deeper trouble as the public realizes that she's either lied about balancing budgets and not raising taxes—or she's kept her promise and absolutely eviscerated public services.

      B.C.'s commodity-based economy is not likely to thrive in a sustained period of slow-to-no growth. That's the new normal in a world of $90-per-barrel oil prices, according to former CIBC chief economist Jeff Rubin.

      Meanwhile, international tourism to B.C. has been lagging for several years. That's not about to change as long as oil prices remain high. Expensive petroleum keeps the Canadian dollar high, making our tourism industry less competitive. 

      Politicians don't like talking about Dutch disease, but it's already gripping the nation.

      As for the dream of LNG exports creating a debt-free B.C., direct action by opponents of hydraulic fracturing—known as fracking— for natural gas will probably put an end to that.

      Why direct action? Because the way things are going, climate-justice activists will be ramping up their campaigns as rising carbon-dioxide emissions continue to demonstrate that global warming is having horrendous effects.

      The recent flash floods in Calgary and Toronto, not to mention the havoc inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, are just a taste of what's to come.

      The Conservative government might have approved the Northern Gateway pipeline by Clark's third year in office. However, the chance of that project going ahead looks pretty slim, given the level of First Nations opposition.

      Of course, the premier will continue to be lionized in newspapers owned by publisher David Black, who's making lots of noise about building a refinery near Kitimat.

      But given the financial state of his empire and the problems facing refiners, it's hard to believe that this project will ever go ahead.

      Meanwhile, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will probably approve ramping up coal exports through its facilities. That will serve to remind the world that Canada continues to be a climate-change pariah. Within a few years, that could lead to trade sanctions from countries that are appalled by Canada's record.

      So even if Clark wins the by-election tomorrow in Westside-Kelowna, she doesn't have a lot of good things to look forward to in this term of office.

      Her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, had plenty of fun at the 2010 Olympics, and was later rewarded with a cushy diplomatic post in London.

      Somehow, I doubt Clark can anticipate a political future nearly so comfortable, given all of the economic and environmental storm clouds on the horizon.



      Alan Layton

      Jul 10, 2013 at 8:21am

      Given the choice between becoming poverty-stricken or putting up with floods in Toronto, I think people will go for LNG development - regardless of the activists. I'm not saying that we should frack, but this last election showed that BC is not as environmentally-minded as we all thought. Given the horrific crash in Lac Megantic QC, I think there will also be more support for both oil pipelines in BC now, if train transport is the alternative.

      Phay Leeyoung

      Jul 10, 2013 at 8:35am

      This commentary should be republished as an op-ed piece in the Glib and Pale and the Notional Pest.

      The next headline should be : Single Mom wins seat in by-election in Kelowna West.
      I say get rid of Dix and put in a woman of colour as the leader of the BC NDP.
      Mable Elmore you're looking pretty good right now.

      Drunken Sailors I Tells Ya

      Jul 10, 2013 at 9:06am

      This won't be much different than what that convicted Drunk Driver did to BC that is Record Deficits and massive Corporate Welfare.

      $$$ BC is saddled with Billions on Billions of Above Market Rate Power Contracts Enron Style,

      $$$ Guaranteed Profits aka Corporate Welfare to a few Private Corporations,

      $$$ Add all the Debt and the Record Deficit run continued by Crusty and BC is in Serious trouble,

      $$$ LNG benefits Mega Corporations not BC will receive little in the way of Revenue as we do not have a strong Royalty Structure like Norway or NewFoundLand,

      $$$ Destroying Water removing it permanently due to massive pollution will destroy our Environment and flush our most Valuable Natural Commodity Fresh WATER down the drain for $0 (Zero) gain,

      Somehow the Neo-Cons / Conservatives believe that for profit Foreign and Sovereign Corporations (Companies owned by the State like Communist China and Islamic Countries Dubhai, UAE & Saudi Arabia) will give a shit about our well being and our Environment.

      The simple fact is Corporations exist purely for profit and nothing else and this Neo-Con Government will not enforce basic Environmental safe guards or Financial benefit for BC.

      They will talk about it like they claim the they have managed the Economy brilliantly better than anyone but the Facts tell us the exact opposite is true.

      Perhaps Crusty will take a page out of the Alberta Neo-Con play book and FUDGE the numbers hiding the Deficits like they have implemented recently in Alberta with the new accounting method.


      Jul 10, 2013 at 9:34am

      Or alternately - The Liberals have 4 more years to reign in the excess and largesse of the civil service. Keeping those costs under control will not "eviscerate" public services. Expect to see more means-tested user fees and other forms of direct costs for many social services users.

      As for the energy strategy, as science continues to prove that CO2 is not a poisonous pollution, but rather a harmless trace gas necessary for life on this planet, the eco-weenies will be backed down by the greater population. Until they disconnect from the grid and live the "carbon free" lifestyle they wish to impose on the rest of us, their posing is just a small speed bump on the road to greater prosperity in BC through energy development.

      Looks to me like the Liberals can expect to win the next election and likely the one after that as well.

      Corporate Welfare for LNG $120 Million+++

      Jul 10, 2013 at 10:11am

      This announcement more Corporate Welfare for rich Oil Corporations but we British Colombians get the Wheel Chair Tax and cut back :)

      Source ... BIV March 2013...

      The B.C. government will offer the gas industry $120 million in royalty credits to build the infrastructure needed to develop a liquefied natural gas industry.


      Jul 10, 2013 at 11:10am

      You sure are confident if you think a Visitor is going to swoop into Kelowna and save the day. That stuff happens in Movies, but come on... This is reality. You people want someone local representing you. Just because Christy is Premier doesn't make her the obvious choice.

      Truth BOMB

      Jul 10, 2013 at 11:53am


      Well, you're clearly a RightWingBoob. No one's arguing that CO2 doesn't have it's place in the atmosphere. The point is that it's increasing, do to us, and having negative effects. Nearly every scientist agrees. So what sci-fi fantasy books are you reading?
      Even water is poisonous if you drink too much of it. You might want to do us all a favour I try that one out for yourself.


      Jul 10, 2013 at 12:55pm

      Maybe yes, maybe no; but, here's my prediction. The Liberal Party will win the next election... WHY????
      Dictated by common sense and the last election, even the WORST Liberal Government is better than the BEST ndp government.


      Jul 10, 2013 at 3:57pm

      Anyone who thinks the worst liberal government is better than the best ndp government, has their head buried in the sand so deep that there is no hope of recovery. Educate yourself for heavens sake, it only takes a minor search on the internet, stop listening to the Christy clark soundbites , and reading the equally ridiculous commentary from the mainstream media, which is little more than "paid advertisement" for the liberal party. People can vote how this wish, its too bad that 22% of the electorate has decided how the rest of us need to live. I wish that those 22% would be the only ones to suffer the consequences of this liberal government and there will be plenty

      Ken Lawson

      Jul 10, 2013 at 4:12pm

      NO not if the Voters are smart but they are not nothing we can do, another 5 years of terrible government, we really do not have many options, the fear factor of having the NDP turned the election to the Liberals, Expect to pay more out of your pockets that is what the Liberals are good at, Expect more scandals also in 2013