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His exodus gives BC Cons no reason to mourn, nor for BC Libs to cheer.

I fail to see why there is such a big deal being made about John van Dongen’s defection from the B.C. Conservative party.

He was a lightweight as a minister who likely won’t hold his own seat no matter what party or lack of one he belongs to. Stubborn to a fault, he brought nothing to the Tories and takes nothing with him as he goes.

The Liberals are leaping with joy at John Cummins’ difficulty and see the fading of Conservative numbers meaning that they are making a comeback. They must be ingesting something illegal if they think the Conservatives were a real threat in the first place.

Buried in the numbers the pollsters attribute to the Conservatives is an unknown but very real problem — many Conservatives just won’t vote if they’re not in the race. A century or so ago when I was in my last election there was a Tory candidate and that worried me a lot. My campaign manager, the political junkie, assuaged my worries by pointing out the likely voting behaviour of Conservatives, and a glance at the results made it clear that he was right.

Put simply, when there is no Tory running it does not follow that the Conservatives will vote Liberal. Many will just stay at home.

The question is not what per cent of the vote the Tories will have, but what harm can they do in a handful of key constituencies.

Action’s in the middle

It must be nearly two years ago when I had lunch with Cummins and urged him to get together with the likes of Chris Delaney, Gordon Wilson and others to form a party of the “centre.” Wilson especially knows politics and has a following. Whether Delaney, Wilson or anyone else could pull this off is an open question, but it couldn’t be worse than the rag-a-tag group of bottom feeding wannabes that make up the zoo called the Conservative party.

The political vacuum is not on the right, but in the centre. Adrian Dix has done a good job of moving the NDP into that area.

British Columbia has always, in the majority, been a centre-left bunch.

W.A.C. Bennett is often demonized as a radical right-winger, but that doesn’t stand up to even mild scrutiny.

He was the man who nationalized the ferry system, the railway and energy production system. He brought in Medicare amongst other “socialist” moves.

Bill Bennett continued that policy with strong consumer laws and serious activity in the environment. (The Ministry of Environment was brought into being by Bennett II.) Dramatic progress in the health and welfare areas were started by Bill Bennett.

(Anyone who doubts that both Bennetts were reformers need only look at what we’ve had since.)

Before we leave this era it’s well to remember reforms brought in by Dave Barrett. His problem is that he blotted his copy book with a lot of silly things like buying a mill town when the pulp mill had run out of wood, buying a sick restaurant, taking over a poultry company and building a potato chip factory with no customers to buy the results.

Libs dragging heavy baggage

The B.C. Liberals have created their own land mines which will explode just in time for the May 2013 election — the end of the HST and the pending start-up of tolls on the Port Mann Bridge. They also will come out with a budget with a huge deficit. My guess is that they will call the legislature into session in March, and not table a budget but bring in a bill for interim supply to get them past the election.

The B.C. Liberals have two chances and both are lousy.

They can hold a leadership vote in March and hope that they choose someone in whom the public might have faith. And they might win if the NDP badly screws things up.

That the B.C. Conservatives could welcome van Dongen in the first place tells us that whatever the Tories stand for, it isn’t likely to make a particle of difference next May 13.

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