Usual suspects emerge to endorse Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals

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      Students of public relations learn very early on about the value of third-party endorsements.

      To cite one example, famous people are routinely used to sell books by writing blurbs on the back cover.

      Third-party endorsers also flog barbecue grills, breakfast cereals, and a multitude of other products.

      How often have you seen retired boxer George Foreman or former hockey player Tie Domi shilling for something on TV?

      In his hockey heyday, Wayne Gretzky was the king of endorsements. He probably raked in as much through his face as through his skills with the puck. And corporate associations with the Great One helped move a ton of stuff off store shelves.

      Nowadays, we're seeing supposedly neutral endorsers stepping up to defend the B.C. Liberals. It comes in the wake of Premier Christy Clark ripping off the NDP platform for her government's throne speech.

      Don't kid yourself: this is an orchestrated effort to have "trustworthy" voices polish the tarnished reputation of the ruling party.

      Former Conservative cabinet minister and consultant Stockwell Day and former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett are popping up in the media to assure right wingers that everything is going to be okay.

      One of the better educated B.C. Liberals, former attorney general Geoff Plant, wrote an op-ed piece aimed at well-educated B.C. Greens, encouraging them to support Clark in the legislature.

      We'll likely hear similar pitches from within the Chinese and South Asian communities. Is former Vancouver councillor Tung Chan going to be an apple polisher? Will former attorney general Wally Oppal step forward for the team? It's all part of the game.

      Meanwhile, the premier is already trying to mend fences in Surrey, where her party suffered major losses.

      Long-time observers of B.C. politics have seen this movie before.

      Former Socred premier Bill Vander Zalm had his third-party supporters step forward to try to save his dying regime.

      The most memorable was former cabinet minister turned lobbyist Don Phillips, a.k.a. Leather Lungs. He delivered a stemwinder in support of the Zalm at the 1988 Social Credit convention.

      It helped the premier retain control over his party for a while. Ultimately, this led to the decimation of Social Credit in the 1991 election.

      Former NDP leader Carole James also had no shortage of "respected" party voices endorsing her when she was on the verge of being pushed out in 2010.

      Usually, these public relations campaigns fall flat. That's because by the time a leader has to call for these reinforcements, it's too late to save the situation.

      A recent Angus Reid Institute poll showed that 62 percent of respondents thought that Clark should quit as leader of the B.C. Liberals.

      Among party supporters, nearly a third thought she should step down.

      That's the reality. And it's unlikely that Stockwell Day or Bill Bennett or Geoff Plant will be able to huff and puff often enough to blow that fact away.