It will be interesting to see what Premier Gordon (Pinocchio) Campbell does with his cabinet next fall when shuffle time will be on us again.
Most pundits including me (have we ever been wrong?) believe that Campbell will step down in 2011 and, in my view, get his reward with a high 6 figures or better job in the energy business for whom he has done so many nice things. If he does, the leadership will be open (there’s a brilliant statement for you!) and we’ll see if the Premier has any favourites in or out of cabinet.
I’m going to assume he has but that they’re confined to one man, about which more in a moment.
Outside cabinet, two names make some sense, Carole Taylor and Dianne Watts, the Teflon mayor of Surrey. Both have, in addition to their talents, the positive factor of being women to be compared and contrasted with the NDP lady who probably still be in charge.
Permit me to digress. I’m told by some NDPers that I’m seen as disliking Carole James. Quite the opposite – I like her very much. In a system that was civilized, and minority governments were the norm, she would make a damned good premier in my view. The fact is that we have a legislature reminiscent of a nest of adders and government comes from the premier’s office, not the House.
What about inside cabinet?
The next couple of cabinet shuffles will tell the tale.
The one man with the royal jelly combined with political smarts (they don’t always go together) is Mike Dejong. He also is the most effective of Cabinet adders when he’s free to fight. He’s thorough and vicious reminding me of when Margot Asquith said of David Lloyd George “he never saw a belt he didn’t hit below”.
As attorney-general he’s in that strange anomaly, a cabinet minister whose guns must be spiked. To be an effective A/G one must be above the fray and Dejong has proved remarkably good at that. He is also turning out to be an effective A/G thus one of the only cabinet ministers – hell, he is the only cabinet minister who’s effective.
If Campbell sees Dejong as his blessed, hand picked successor, Dejong will stay as A/G thus out of harm’s way. If Campbell doesn’t want him to take over the corner office, he will switch him to Children and Families or Finance minister or some other handy graveyard of political ambition.
Why wouldn’t Campbell lay hands on Carole Taylor (in a political sense, silly)?
First, one must consider whether or not Ms Taylor wants the job. Her husband has not, I’m told, been in perfect health and she’s getting on a bit. She may see the chalice as sufficiently poisoned to wish it upon someone else.
Second, she quit Pinocchio’s cabinet over fiscal concerns she had as Finance Minister. To seek the big job she will have to deal with that issue. If she seeks the leadership while supporting Campbell’s fiscal policy, she puts herself on the same plane as Mr. Dejong and will upset members who want to eradicate all memory of Campbell.
If she denounces Campbell’s fiscal policy she will piss off the remaining Campbellites.
What about Diane Watts?
She may not even be a Liberal but, of course, that’s a trivial point with that ever pragmatic group. Of more interest is her ability to sign up delegates from her interesting but tiny base of power in Surrey.
Is Ms Watts any more than a pretty face who mesmerizes the media?
We’ll find out more in the coming months.
There is another name, of course – Christy Clark. She has been a great talk show in the sense of always being kind to the government. Her husband is the quintessential backroom boy in the party.
Christy Clark is a possibility but she too has to live with the facts she quit Pinocchio’s government and somehow lost the NPA nomination for Vancouver Mayor to Sam Sullivan. It wasn’t just that she lose but she, her hubby and the “machine” were convinced she would win.
For now, keep your eyes on what Premier Campbell does with Mike Dejong
Postscript: Look for Ralph Soltan, the best business brain in the entire Caucus (though that’s damning with very faint praise indeed) to finally make cabinet.
Because after being such a loyal soldier for so long, he now looks as if he wants to speak out on issues and not be concerned about whom he hurts. That’s one of the better ways to get into cabinet.