Martyn Brown: Pouring cold water on the B.C. Liberals’ deathbed repentance

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Where the hell is Amnesty International when you need them?

      Surely that is what B.C. premier Christy Clark must be thinking these days, as her government gurgles for help, drowning by its own hand.

      It’s a ghastly sight that we’re all being forced to witness, as Thursday’s throne speech fast approaches.

      A desperate and once-proud government, now flat on its back and gasping for breath—pleading for someone to save it.

      A government that seems prepared to say anything to cling to the hope that pity might be a route to redemption.

      Think of it as a self-imposed political waterboarding.

      "Why does everything look so foreign? So horribly upside-down?" the B.C. Liberal caucus is now trying to fathom. "Why is this wet towel on my face? And why the hell am I pouring cold water on my own argument for existence?"

      Good questions. The answer lies at the centre of that new picture that hangs on the cabinet wall.

      "Enough! Please!" it silently screams.

      "I was wrong to freeze welfare rates for the last decade. What will it take to make you believe me? An extra $100 per month? Done. Just give me another chance."

      "I see it now. I was wrong not to ban big money. Trust me, I’ll fix that."

      "Never mind that I’ve just broken my promise to voluntarily disclose my party’s campaign contributions. A lie is not a lie when it was never offered in good faith, so please don’t hold that against me."

      "What is it you want of me? Just say it, and I’ll say it—anything. I blew it—big time—I know. Please, God, dont let it end this way."

      "I was wrong to do what I did to hurt rapid transit, affordable housing, health care, and education. I heard you, loud and clear. I will do better, I swear."

      "I get it, I do. You want a vote on proportional representation. I was wrong to resist that, too. I’ll do it. Cross my heart and hope to die. I mean live."

      "Don’t you see? This is me, working collaboratively and reaching across partisan lines: maybe not on the speaker thing—but honestly. You know, to respect that message the voters sent me."

      Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. In all my years in politics, I have never seen anything like it.

      It is so cynical, it is even tickling my gag reflexes.

      It is a pathetic and humiliating confession of ineptitude by a government that took such glee in sticking it to the people whose forgiveness it is now grovelling to win.

      The B.C. Liberals’ deathbed repentance is a bad joke that won’t work.

      It only reinforces Christy Clark’s ultimate Achilles heel: she is one of those rare leaders who is actually everything she appears to be: untrustworthy, hypocritical, unprincipled, and partisan-political to the core.

      Of course, the Liberals will have plenty of opportunity to prove me wrong, by voting to support the NDP’s legislation on all of Clark’s belated throne speech epiphanies. And pigs will fly.

      "They were right and we were wrong" is the subtext of the Clark government’s last gasp at legitimacy. Which might be the first honest thing it ever tacitly admitted.

      "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" could be the theme song for the B.C. Liberals.

      Sadly, it seems to be genetically incapable of saying that one word that really needs to be said and etched on her government’s tombstone.

      "Sorry" really should be the theme of Thursday’s speech from the throne.

      "Sorry," the government should say, "we failed to honour the public trust, in so much of what we said and did, and in how we did it. "

      "We’re sorry," it should say, "for not listening to the NDP and Greens on all those issues where they were right and we were wrong. We failed you, the people, time and time again."

      "Sorry, we were wrong to kill the climate action plan and to bank on Big Oil to power our economy. Sorry, we were wrong on Kinder Morgan and on the LNG pipe dream."

      "Sorry, we hurt so many people: patients, students, seniors, children, First Nations, and those most vulnerable in our society. Sorry, we turned our backs on persons with disabilities, on the homeless, on people living with mental illnesses, on those with addictions who are dying in unconscionable numbers, and on people living in poverty."

      Nope. You won’t hear that on Thursday, or likely ever from the party that was too clever by half.

      Even before today, the Clark government had signed its own death warrant.

      God willing, by next Thursday the NDP and Greens will have finally put it out of its misery and we will all be able to breathe a little easier.

      Whenever the next election takes place, the Clark government’s last throne speech should prove to be the gift that keeps on giving for both the NDP and the Green party.

      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, in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, and he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact Brown at