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BC Premier Christy Clark dons Canucks jersey during 2013 election campaign (Andy Clark / Reuters)

BC Premier Christy Clark dons Canucks jersey during 2013 election campaign (Andy Clark / Reuters)

Nowhere in the appalling record of the Liberal government in Victoria has its shortcomings been more obvious than at the very top. Premier Christy Clark has been a terrible leader whose pronouncements get more and more embarrassing as time passes.

However, she so dominates the government that one is hard-pressed to think of even the names of her cabinet ministers, which doesn’t say much for their abilities or courage to speak out on issues.

Tsilhqot’in move merited praise…BUT the proof is in the pudding

I recently applauded Premier Clark for making formal contact with the Tsilhquot’in First Nation. I did this because she was right to do so. What she has said since makes me wonder if she really understood what she was supposed to be doing. That she understands the obvious politics in what she has done is clear but there is no evidence that she and her government comprehend what must now be a clear policy. We wait and see with hope, if not much confidence.

Absence of political courage

The premier simply cannot get serious. She always thinks of photo opportunities and public relations. In so doing, she totally discounts the need for common sense or consistency with other government policies. What she considers least is the impact of her airy-fairy words on the issue in question. Her need to make sense is permanently diminished by her inability to do so.

Nothing in this bankruptcy of leadership has suffered more than the area of energy and the environment.

The Mount Polley catastrophe and the absence of any investigation into her government’s own role simply typifies the utter disregard Premier Clark has for the requirements of leadership – one of the main ones being political courage.

On environment, media hasn’t held Clark’s feet to the fire

Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun has much disappointed me on environmental matters since the Liberals took office in 2001. It’s not what Palmer has said – it’s the absence of any comment whatsoever which is troubling.

Considering Palmer’s yeoman service when the in the NDP were in power, we were entitled to expect that this same close attention to government policy would be maintained. In fact, in these areas there has been none from the mainstream media.

LNG: house of cards crumbling

Palmer has, in my view, redeemed himself considerably by his writings on LNG. He has consistently poked at the government and their starry-eyed approach to this question and, as time has passed, it is becoming clear that those of us who from the very beginning were throwing cold water on Clark’s blatherings were right after all.

My own skepticism was fuelled simply by what I read about the energy situation in Asia – of much more importance were the words of experts such as economist Erik Andersen and energy scientists who made it clear that the government had no grounds whatsoever for its wild enthusiasm.

“Prosperity” fund shrinks from $100 Billion to “billions”

This, I think, is what is so troubling about the Premier’s actions past and present. You may remember that during the last election, the “Prosperity Fund” which was the subject of the premier’s reveries, was going to add a trillion dollars to our GDP and  $100 billion to our provincial coffers!

Instead of the premier and her experts in the energy field coldly and soberly analyzing the prospects for sale of LNG from BC plants to Asian markets, we got the fulminations of a cheerleader, the content of which made as much sense as most high school cheerleaders make. This is not what the public of British Columbia needs and indeed is not terribly helpful to the industry itself.

Today, Clark is promising only “billions of dollars” from LNG – but how many? “Billions” could technically be as few as two. She’s  considerably less specific on that point today…

Palmer, in carefully researched interventions, is bringing doses of reality to badly-hyped government propaganda.

NDP opposition not much help either

Unhappily, the leader of the NDP, John Horgan is not much more helpful than Clark. In the very beginning, he anchored himself to a policy of supporting LNG – without any clear idea as to what that blanket support was going to entail. Now, instead of being able to criticize government policy, he is stuck with past pronouncements.

Leadership is not cheerleading

Leadership is not about raising unreasonable expectations or allowing those expectations to remain unchallenged. Quite the opposite. Leadership is about cool, unemotional analysis of issues and putting careful processes in place to make sure that initiatives are successful.

There is nothing the matter, of course – and, indeed, a great deal right – about government and opposition leaders supporting that which is good for the province of British Columbia. It is courageously determining whether or not it is good that is the sign of leadership.

There seems to be little any of us can do about it. So long as the Liberal Party is content to stay with Ms. Clark, she will likely stay. Dislodging a sitting leader is a daunting prospect, indeed. As the NDP have shown, it’s difficult enough to dislodge one that isn’t sitting.

Unless there is a miraculous sea change in the attitude from Mr. Horgan and his party, they are not going to provide the “government-in-waiting” that oppositions are supposed to provide. This is a most unhealthy situation.

Media matters

Once more, this all underlines the importance of a vigilant media. Mr. Palmer deserves credit for his assumption of leadership on the LNG issue. This leadership, must, however, be broadened to include the entire energy picture – and, of course, the overall issue of the environment.

This journal will continue to be ever on top of these issues, but it needs help from the mainstream media, who thus far have abdicated their responsibilities herein.

May the example of Mr. Palmer extend to others at his newspaper, the Vancouver Sun, television media and others.

Only when it does will we have a force in this province that effectively holds governments’ feet to the fire and exposes the puerile blatherings of the premier for what they are.

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