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Public won't support political use of recall: Falcon

Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon says he knows from experience the public won't support recall being used to refight an election or batter the government.

“The premier's already paid the ultimate price, I think, with respect to how we handled the HST and I think a lot of the public recognize that,” Falcon said during a visit to Oak Bay-Gordon Head, where MLA Ida Chong is fighting an effort to recall her.

“The motivations behind this recall initiative have frankly almost nothing to do with HST,” said Falcon. “There are other forces at play here and I think that's demonstrated by the fact that almost two thirds of the canvassers don't even come from the riding.”

Falcon was an organizer of the Total Recall campaign that in 1998 and 1999 considered an attempt to recall 40 NDP MLAs.

People were protesting the government and recall might be possible, he told the Times Colonist in 1998, because “they're tired of a government perceived as arrogant, dishonest and unethical. I feel like I'm a Ground Zero of an angry-citizen vortex.”

And in a February, 1999, article on the recall effort Falcon cited budget discrepancies and expanded gambling as things that have “infuriated” British Columbians. “There's enough anger and frustration out there that I believe that this government is in serious trouble . . . If they had any ethical decency they would call an election.”

The Hamilton Spectator reported that Falcon was focused on the government's record rather than the performance of individual MLAs: “The government has completely lost its moral authority to govern.”

And the Vancouver Sun got a copy of Total Recall's business plan, which it said Falcon prepared. The public must perceive the campaign as a referendum on Glen Clark's NDP government, not an attack on their own MLA, it said. “Where voters may be reluctant to recall their individual MLA, they will likely support collapsing the entire NDP government.”

Finally, Falcon told the Globe and Mail that the campaign was moving forward simply because it was “winnable.”

Media reports at the time said Total Recall fizzled because it lacked financial support, but today Falcon said the campaign ended because the public didn't want to use recall to bring down the government and people likely still feel the same way.

“I just don't think it's something the public will ultimately support,” he said. “I found that out in my years back when I looked at what we called Total Recall.”

Chong, for her part, said she has been busy fighting the recall attempt. “I'm still taking it very seriously because I don't know what will happen in the next four weeks,” said the science and universities minister.

Organizers have until Feb. 4 to get signatures on the recall petition from nearly 16,000 people—40 percent of the number who were eligible to vote in the constituency in the 2009 election.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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