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Now Starts Stanley Cup Final of BC Politics

After gruelling seasons, both teams now set for battle in the provincial election.

Bill Tieleman 19 Apr 2011TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog.

"A lot can happen during a season. You have to have an awful lot go right to win a Stanley Cup." -- ex-Philadelphia Flyers captain Bobby Clarke

The long playoff series has come down to the final battle between the two top teams -- let the Stanley Cup final of B.C. politics -- a provincial election – begin!

On Sunday the B.C New Democrats chose their new captain, Adrian Dix, to go up against the BC Liberal now wearing the "C" on her jersey -- Christy Clark.

And what a tough series it will be.

Expect lots of hard checking into the boards, slapshots, high sticking, spearing, game misconduct penalties and bench-clearing brawls.

Ya gotta love B.C. politics! It's a beauty!

The coaches' greaseboards

The strategies of both teams are clear going into this contest.

Dix is a scrapper who will put constant pressure on Clark and the BC Liberals to make a big mistake and cough up the puck in their own end.

That's what their former captain -- ex-premier Gordon Campbell -- did with the Harmonized Sales Tax that ended his playing career.

Dix, a personal friend I supported for leader, is already dropping the gloves on the government for increasing personal Medical Services Plan premiums in January to pay for corporate tax cuts.

Clark is also a tough competitor who will have her elbows up and be cheered on in the stands by B.C.'s big business leaders.

Clark will try to keep Dix on the defensive in his own end and held to shots from the left wing only.

But Clark starts the series with a big penalty imposed by the referee -- the B.C. Supreme Court -- for a punishing late hit on B.C. teachers when she was education minister and removed the right to negotiate class size and composition in collective bargaining.

That decision went badly against Clark. Justice Susan Griffin wrote that: "By passing this legislation without so much as consulting with BCTF, the government did not preserve the essential underpinning of collective bargaining, namely, good faith negotiation and consultation."

Clark was thrown into the sin bin for that one.

Choosing where to shoot

One key coaching decision was made Sunday -- BC New Democrats agreed with Adrian Dix when he said during the leadership campaign that "you can't score a goal from centre ice."

That centrist strategy followed by the NDP in the last two elections simply didn't win them B.C.'s version of Lord Stanley's mug, despite a strong showing each time under former leader Carole James.

Dix pointed out, as I did in this column after the last provincial election, that the NDP lost 40,000 actual votes between the 2005 and 2009 ballots.

To win an election, the NDP has to mobilize its traditional base and get voters who stayed home out to the polls with real reasons to support the party.

That's why Dix made very specific pledges like restoring the minimum corporate tax on banks eliminated by the BC Liberals – and using the money to help students attend post-secondary education.

While some media call it "left-wing," many right-of-centre British Columbians will agree the banks get too many tax breaks while sticking it to ordinary folks with high credit card interest rates and ATM fees.

No one likes a quitter

Lastly, expect to hear this taunt in the arena: "Adrian Dix is a hitter, Christy Clark is a quitter."

Clark quit Gordon Campbell's cabinet and politics in 2005 shortly after he moved her to a new position as Minister of Children and Families that she didn't want.

Clark said she was leaving to spend time with her family but eight months later tried to win the Non-Partisan Association's nomination to run for Vancouver mayor.

When she lost that contest to Sam Sullivan, she quit on the NPA. Clark not only didn't run to be an NPA councillor, she didn't even knock on one door or pull one vote for the party she wanted to lead.

Clark's approach was evident again in the BC Liberal leadership race, where she refused requests from competitors Kevin Falcon and George Abbott to commit to running as an MLA if she didn't win.

If Clark wants to beat the very competitive Dix there's one position she absolutely cannot play for her team -- self-centred.  [Tyee]

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