Christy Clark's political problems require more than meetings restricted to female voters
Premier Christy Clark has decided to try a heretical approach to boost B.C. Liberal fortunes among female voters.
According to Mike Smyth's column in this morning's Province newspaper, she's holding a series of events where only women are allowed to attend.
It's the type of thing that will cause right wingers (her natural constituency) to go berserk because they recoil from anything that smacks of affirmative action or levelling the playing field for disadvantaged groups.
It's easy to see why Clark is holding these meetings. Pollsters have been reporting for months that Clark has a repellent effect on most female voters.
The premier and her spin doctors want to find out why—or, at the very least, leave the impression that they want to discover the reason for this. Here are my explanations for why Clark is doing so poorly with women (in no particular order):
• Trust: Female voters are less likely to trust Clark than men because more of them see her as a phony. Many remember Clark's claim in 2004 that she was quitting politics to spend more time with her family, only to see that the very next year, she was trying to become mayor of Vancouver. Her "Families First" slogan looked like a cruel joke to parents of mentally challenged adults, who were being treated dismally by Community Living B.C.
• Education: Women are more likely to make education a voting issue—and here, Clark's record is poor. Not only did she not make it through university, but as education minister, she oversaw the introduction of a law, later deemed unconstitutional, that ripped up teachers' contracts. This legislation allowed for larger student groupings and more special-needs kids in regular classrooms.
• Union basher The premier has never been a friend of organized labour (see above), and particularly of public-sector workers. That was clear during the recent teachers' dispute and also in the negotiations with B.C. government workers. Women form a significant part of the government workforce. When they see Clark ready to privatize liquor distribution without serious public consultation and issue fiats about net-zero negotiating mandates, this raises questions about their own income and job security.
• Harper's pal: Clark has been extremely friendly to federal Conservatives, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is loathed by many female voters. The image of Clark watching her son's hockey game with Harper won't win her many female votes in urban areas of the province. Clark's decision to hire several of Harper's cronies in the premier's office only added to her problems with female voters.
• HST hangover Women often make household purchasing decisions. And many of them were furious about the B.C. Liberal government's decision to introduce the harmonized-sales tax with zero consultation. Clark's support for the tax did nothing to mollify them.
• Class issues This is going to get me in hot water with some, but I've often felt that the public is prepared to cut a male politician more slack if he comes across as a hayseed. Ralph Klein, Bill Vander Zalm, W.A.C. Bennett, and Corky Evans all did exceptionally well in politics by not appearing to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths. Evans happens to be extremely well read, but he never seemed that way because of the way he delivered speeches and commented on public issues. Female politicians who drop the "g" at the end of words and occasionally sound "kinda stoopid"—like Clark—can really alienate well-educated female voters. It didn't help Clark that her gum-chewing press secretary reinforced a trailer-trash perception of her administration during her first major televised encounter with the media. This isn't a problem that former finance minister Carole Taylor ever encountered as a politician.
Sara McIntyre restricts media access to the premier.
Aug 14, 2012 at 1:11pm
I think that BC Rail should fall under the trust issue with Clark as well. She has proclaimed such innocence in this matter, and yet she has chosen to allow this to remain under a shroud of suspicion. It speaks volumes that she would not have an public inquiry to alleviate that suspicion. As well as her selling off Liquor Distribution under another shroud of suspicion. Why would she think that a deal that has been likened to BC Rail, would go over well with anyone?
I work in an office with five other women, and we have discussed this exact issue. We all find it infuriating that she perceives the public as being so incredibly stupid or she just feels like she is above reproach and can get away with anything. I think it is a little of both!
Not even that complicated
Aug 14, 2012 at 1:11pm
These are all valid points but not every woman or man for that matter in BC as time or inclination to be this conversant with all the issues. And for Clark to be doomed they don;t need to be. Just at face value (literally) Clark looks like a loser. Women's intuition just needs a glance at her to see right through the sham. Double that up with your accurate dissection of the deeper issues and Clark is a dead premier walking - and thank god (who I don't believe in) for that.
Aug 14, 2012 at 1:17pm
No where to go but out Christy. The women like you less then the other groups but all still dislike you. You have set this province back another decade on the heels of your former boss Gordo who did the same. BC Liberals will not be much of anything when you get done girl.
We So Need
Aug 14, 2012 at 2:25pm
a provincial version of Elizabeth May - where are you BC Lizzie??
Aug 14, 2012 at 2:40pm
I honestly feel that the biggest issue for women is her "families first" platform that puts everything but family first. Yeah, being a buddy of Harper's doesn't help....but seriously when you say "Families First" then put them FIRST!! Also, she is very wishy washy and as a strong woman I just can't stand that! Take a stand and then stand there!!
In reply to jonny...........you were making sense until you had to start bashing and then you just sounded like an idiot..really, your comment relating to women politicians was completely unnecessary and untrue!
Aug 14, 2012 at 2:40pm
things that could help save Christy Clark's career:
<b>leadership:</b> like, make a decision. or not. or do. whatevs.
<b>work:</b> it's not a social event. put your t*ts away, and your stretchy T-shirts, and your Beyoncé pumps, and your little poodle skirts. put on some pants and some flats, go back to your office and open a Word document. make a list or something.
<b>party unity: </b> maybe you and your colleagues could choose a few items that you all fundamentally agree on. this is also called a "platform".
<b>vision: </b> don't picture things the way they are, picture things the way you think they SHOULD be. and then develop a plan of action to make it happen as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
<b>act:</b> to stop Enbridge now. they are liars and knuckleheads. don't do business with people like this. oil tanker embargo.
<b>invest:</b> in BC's future. quit spending our money on yourselves, and start spending it to ensure a safer, wiser, more pristine province. we see ourselves as world leaders in clean, fair living. so should you.
<b>authority:</b> do it already.
Aug 14, 2012 at 3:29pm
Yes - well said. Clark and her twerps keep saying 'free enterprise' but I'm a self-employed and successful business person, I dislike the NDP and their 1990s history but I fear Enbridge and the lack of a post-oil vision much more. I could never vote for the BC Liberals while they hustle our world-class environment for a nickel and continue giving our tax dolalrs to the already hugely profitable oil/gas industry. And the NDP?? You got to be kidding - out-dated socialist morons who will buckle at the slightest corporate threat. Until there's a clear vision I'll vote Green as they are the only party that gets it.
Aug 14, 2012 at 7:22pm
I think most people don't like the idea of a pipeline but if the BC Liberals under Gordon Campbell hadn't sold BC Rail, the railroad could be used to transport bitumen/oil.
I guess that's why Christy isn't talking about BC Rail but instead is looking for silly issues for sound bytes, hoping desparately to fool enough chumps to vote for her.
The success of this strategy remains to be seen.
Grew up in a trailer park in the backwoods of B.C.
Aug 14, 2012 at 10:57pm
Carole Taylor was appalling. $500 for shoes. Awful.
If Christy’s that same person with the bad perm, glasses and ciggy clenched between the fingers, then she was a nice person. (Well, used to be).
The policies she endorses are stooooopid.
Aug 15, 2012 at 9:35am
She is in my mind, our very own version of Sara Palin. I can't wait until the election so I can cast my vote against her. I'm a woman and I will tell you I don't trust her and think she lacks credibility. Buh Bye and good riddance.