It’s a relief to have the uncertainty associated with the possibility of a snap election put to an end. But I’m concerned that the leaders of B.C.’s main political parties won’t be able to rise above the petty partisanship that’s characterized their relationship to date.
The vast majority of voters I’ve spoken with want the fixed election date honoured — even when the party in power picks a new leader.
The new premier has amply demonstrated the reason why people prefer certainty around election timing. Even before her selection as leader of the BC Liberals, Christy Clark indicated she wanted her own mandate and would call an election at her discretion. This forced B.C.’s political parties to go into election readiness and the tasks of finding and nominating candidates, raising money, testing messaging, and posturing for votes took precedence over governing the province. I know many people think this is what passes for politics these days, but a potential snap election brings this activity to the forefront in a way that truly makes the legislature unproductive.
For us to truly benefit from the premier’s announcement that she will honour the fixed election date, she must let us know what her vision is for B.C. and what steps she’s going to take to realize it. The Oct. 3 Throne Speech (which will kick off a full fall session) will be a critical opportunity for Premier Clark to put her stamp on government and clearly demonstrate why she wanted to be Premier of B.C.
Hopefully she will also curb her combative spirit and obvious enjoyment of the partisan sparring that dominated her short time in the House this spring. There is also a major challenge for Adrian Dix in the return to a fixed-election calendar. Dix has been in hyper-election mode since his own selection as leader of the NDP and he must now show he can settle down and be a constructive Opposition leader and potential premier-in-waiting by giving Premier Clark room to govern while still holding her to account.
Let’s hope that by keeping with the fixed-election schedule, both leaders can curb the electioneering and get down with the much more important job of governing the province.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.