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Opinion

Despite Recent Rough Patch, Clark Firmly in Control

These aren't the moves of a mistake-prone government.

By Bill Tieleman 31 Mar 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. Email him at weststar@telus.net or follow on Twitter @BillTieleman or visit his blog.

"No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution."
-- Niccolo Machiavelli

Premier Christy Clark might appear to be having a rough time in B.C. politics -- but to conclude that she is in trouble would be a mistaken misread of her intentions.

Clark is indeed Canada's second most unpopular premier, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll taken before the last week's further damage, with just 33 per cent approving of her performance.

Since then, Clark surprisingly killed the appointment of former BC Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott as the new head of the B.C. Treaty Commission at the very last minute, alienating First Nations, angering the BC NDP opposition and even appalling BC Liberal friends of Abbott, of whom there are many.

But so what? Clark has no investment in the treaty process, no strong interest in reaching agreements and wanted to send First Nations a clear message that she is not happy with some of their members delaying resource projects.

What better way to do so than firing Abbott -- who opposed Clark for leader -- in public?

Whether the B.C. Treaty Commission is radically altered or even terminated won't determine the fate of the next provincial election, which is Clark's only motivation.

Public hanging was also used this month for the now-former impose standards for teachers' professional development introduced without even bothering to consult the BCTF.

That came after Education Minister Peter Fassbender appointed an auditor to look into the books of another adversary -- the Vancouver School Board -- and following a new order for all school boards to chop $54 million in administrative costs in the next two years.

Why should the BC Liberals care that trustees are elected to run schools? Or that Vancouver's school board had already hired its own private accounting firm to help find ways to save money?

BCTF president Jim Iker is one of those not fooled.

"This pro-development day legislation is a red herring to put a focus on us and away from government," said in an interview with 24 Hours Vancouver on Wednesday. "This is a diversion from underfunding."

Exactly.

B.C. liquor law changes that have infuriated the industry are part of the same approach of hiding your intent by causing controversy in another area.

The BC Liberals either consult but then ignore or just don't consult at all -- and do what they always intended.

As Iker says: "We know the record of this government on consultation and we have to be wary of that."

It's why the BCTF -- and First Nations -- are more intent on winning in the courts than reaching agreement with the BC Liberals. And Clark knows that.

So those who think this is a mistake-prone government on the ropes with neither a plan nor a process to get there are missing all the signs.  [Tyee]

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