[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]
Dear Dr. Steve,
On Tuesday, former B.C. government communications director Brian Bonney was charged with breach of trust. The charge followed an RCMP investigation into the 2011 ''Quick Wins'' plan designed to coax votes from B.C.'s multicultural communities. Bonney, who stepped down in March, is the fourth BC Liberal to resign over the affair. The same day, his company Mainland Communications pleaded guilty to making an unreported political contribution while Election Act charges against Bonney and former Liberal party field director Mark Robertson were dropped.
Plus, as the result of the Liberals' ''triple delete'' scandal, former Liberal ministerial assistant George Gretes was recently charged with lying while under oath under the province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Meanwhile, Laura Miller has returned to her former position as BC Liberal Party executive director despite facing criminal charges in Ontario.
And of course there was the recent revelation that Premier Christy Clark's salary is supplemented by the Liberal Party, for work that includes hosting fundraisers.
Doesn't this flood of alleged malfeasance and skeevy behaviour suggest the writing is on the wall for the BC Liberals?
It's got to be tense at BC Liberal caucus meetings these days -- everybody looking around trying to figure out who's the stool pigeon. Could it be ''Big Richie'' Coleman? ''Billy Walnuts'' Bennett? Michelle ''Mickey Brown Eyes'' Stilwell? Christy ''Premier of British Columbia'' Clark? Meanwhile, work continues on the escape tunnel being dug beneath a Legislature bathroom stall. The heat is closing in. Clark's Liberals are drawing more charges than a 15-year-old's iPhone.
All the same, Optimistic, I would not get too excited. By this time next year, your victory cake will not only be stale, it may well taste of ashes. Recent history suggests the Clark Gang could bust into the BMO branch at Burrard and Dunsmuir and shoot up the place with Tommy Guns, and voters might not make an issue of it. At least the Liberals probably think so. And why not?
The charge against Bonney is serious. It pertains to the so-called ''Quick Wins'' scandal, which hit just in time for the last election. It was a pretty big scandal at the time, made a lot of waves, and I forget what happened next. Christy Clark is still Premier though.
The HST debacle, the BC Rail sale, the health ministry worker firings, a sketchy budget, the ''Quick Wins'' memos, an economic plan that was all gas -- Clark emerged from all that like Daenerys Targaryen strolling away from a propane tank explosion. The suggestion she might be brought down by year-old news reports about some flunkies taking a fall must bring forth a hearty supervillain cackle.
Next year she'll promise more gas, perhaps from eating big bowls of magic beans. Meanwhile the pipeline conundrum that hobbled former NDP leader Adrian Dix has not gone away. As now NDP leader John Horgan no doubt realizes, the issue still divides traditional NDP constituencies like an electric fence.
And yet, and yet… there are differences this cycle as Bill Tieleman recently pointed out. Unlike the admirably principled Dix, Horgan will not be bringing roses to a knife fight. Dix would not engage in negative advertising. He stood proud and straight before the line of tanks, and the NDP has the tread marks to prove it. Horgan's NDP will shoot back.
The election is a year away and memories are indeed short. But some issues have more sticking power than others, and Clark's salary top-up could be one of them. Politicians pocketing money is something everybody understands. With a little creative advertising, Horgan could match Clark with her new celebrity model: A seagull from Finding Nemo.
Clark recently attended a meeting of Western premiers, at which the provincial leaders all did their usual impersonation of a nest of baby birds. But thanks to the revelation that the Premier is pocketing BC Liberal Party funds, the public may see her motives as suspect. Who knows? While the other provincial premiers asked for more disaster relief funding, perhaps Clark asked for a new Camaro. She seems to be the opportunistic type.
Still, it's all very far away. In politics, a calendar year might as well be a light year. Besides, issues in the news today may not even matter. By the time President Trump gets busy, nothing will.
Read more: BC Politics