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Cartoon by Ingrid Rice.

Does Christy Clark know the difference between a caucus and a cactus? To survive, she’d better.

Understanding how caucus and cabinet work requires a mind that doesn’t believe what he/she is conditioned to believe by politicians and the media. It’s like most of our political system — what we think happens is not so in practice.

Let’s clear away a bit of political language.

The caucus is both the cabinet ministers and the MLAs, even though it’s also commonly used to describe backbenchers only. In practice, the caucus is the backbench of the ruling party. I will use the terms as they reflect reality.

Whenever a cabinet is made or reshuffled, we’re told that so and so will bring his/her special talents blah, blah, blah… and the reason for one being dropped from cabinet is never explained. You may believe that Colin Hansen wanted out — if you do, you might care to get in touch with me about a bridge I have for sale. Hansen’s failings include that he didn’t see the recession coming, resulting in an enormous increase in the deficit, and he bungled the HST file. In his role as finance minister, he’s been accused more than once of misrepresenting the facts.

Premier Clark clearly followed the Doughty technique, which goes back to Drake’s circumnavigation of the world. Doughty, of noble blood, was ensconced on the Pelican, later Golden Hind, to keep an eye on Drake. Drake got tired of Doughty, found him guilty of treason and executed him. Before doing so, the two of them had a sumptious feast with all the trimmings.

Hansen is the B.C. equivalent of Thomas Doughty.

Idle hands…

The caucus is a fragile fraternity at the very best of times. Sensible premiers create work for them. Some are made parliamentary secretaries for which they do little but get a handsome pay rise. One is made whip and one deputy whip, to make sure that enough government MLAs are around to support the government in a legislative vote. The Liberals even had a whip and deputy when they had a majority of 77-2! Interesting ad hoc committees are set up, on whose business MLAs can then travel. In fact, one of the premier’s key jobs no matter what his majority is to keep an eye on caucus, which he usually does through a cabinet minister least disliked by caucus. It’s been said that the difference between a caucus and a cactus is that with a cactus, the pricks are all on the outside.

Premier Clark starts with the fact that every MLA, whether in cabinet or the backbench, has a death wish for her — the exception being Harry Bloy, the lone MLA to support her leadership. With that exception, every MLA thinks that he/she would be a better cabinet minister than any of those turkeys, and that their choice of leader would have made a better premier. They will all soundly deny such disloyalty.

This should not be taken as an attack on Premier Clark. The fractious caucus and indeed cabinet syndrome hits all parties because of the system we have, which turns hopeful governors into helpless ciphers. Even when premiers take office under favourable conditions, dissent can bring them down, as happened to Premier Mike Harcourt who couldn’t handle a scandal that he had no part in. It happened to Carole James when it appeared to party hawks that she couldn’t win an election. The best example in modern times is Bill Vander Zalm, who won the Socred leadership in 1986 with no cabinet members supporting him and with most trying to help someone else. He was dead from the start as I said on CBC television the day before his election.

Premier Clark dropped two very well thought of female ministers, which leaves her vulnerable in two ways. They’re obviously not happy cheerleaders for the premier. And it gives the NDP a very helpful issue.

One Response to “Good Luck with Your New Team, Premier”

  1. Julie says:

    It is a little confusing. We know Campbell works for Harper. Now Christy Clark has a Conservative strategist working for her. Does this mean, we have two Conservative party’s in BC? I think, Campbell is still running the province. He did say, he may stick around as an adviser to the BC Liberals. I doubt he intended to leave. He has too many irons in the fire not completed. He is too much of a control freak, to allow Christy to screw it all up. Christy flip flops all over the place. It isn’t safe to trust her one inch. Campbell stayed.

    Campbell signed in favor for, the dirty oil tankers from China, coming into our beautiful coastal seas. This of course, will see the pipeline built. China also bought a huge chunk of the tar sands. Harper and Campbell, work very closely with China. I expect their project will be forced on the BC people.The tar sands from space, is an abomination, on the face of Canada. The First Nations village near the tar sands, are getting cancer. Even the rare cancer from being exposed to petroleum products. The caribou are dying. Another flock of ducks perished, from landing in the filthy sludge. There are deformed fish in Athabasca Lake. They have now, found oil in the mighty Athabasca River. The Athabasca watershed is contaminated.

    Christy Clark is playing the benefactor, of producing more jobs for the BC people. She said she was going to tackle Harper on, the expansion of Prosperity Mine. The back door was left open. Hawes said, the expansion could be re-applied for. Harper and Campbell had already set this up. Christy will get all of the flack from, the First Nations People, and others against the project. We know Campbell and Harper work behind the citizens backs.

    Harper and Campbell are also working to have, oil and gas well’s, drilled off BC’s coast. There was a 6.6 earthquake off the Queen Charlotte’s, they are a pair of brain dead idiots, but will do it anyway. There is still oil gathering on the rocks, from the Valdez spill 22 years ago. But greed and corruption rules. The eco damage, of the run of the rivers, is absolutely disgusting. What a terrible mess. That dumb project, will also affect the birds, fish and wildlife. All for corruption and greed, which is the BC Liberals mantra. The more they can thieve for their pockets, the more damage they will do.

    We have a global shortage of food, and costs are going sky high. Campbell is flooding the best, prime farmland in Canada, the Site C Dam. (I am not certain), I heard the water from the dam, will now go to the dirty tar sands, as California refused the hydro.

    This is what BC people despise about Campbell and Harper, it’s all the crap they pull behind our backs. Campbell has thieved this province blind. BC is financially dead, on the peoples part. Huge corporations, are laughing all the way to the bank, and so is Campbell. So now, Campbell and Harper, are going to turn BC into, a polluted wasteland.

    There are still other evils, of Campbell and Harper’s. I will leave that for another day.

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