In what was described by Doug Clovechok, president of the BC Liberal Columbia-River-Revelstoke riding association as an “interesting out turn of the political realm.” Clovechok was in Vancouver to be a part of the end of the Liberal leadership campaign. During the campaign he was a strong supporter of candidate George Abbott. Abbott was the second hopeful removed from the process that eventually led to the new leader of the party, Christy Clark, being named.
“It was not a big shock. The word on the street was there was no way the next premier would be from rural British Columbia.” Clovechok said.
He went on to say that Clark had won the race fair and square and it was now time to support her as the new leader.
“At the end of the day if your guy does not win you are kind of ticked. I think George Abbott has an enormous amount of substance. I am not going to lie, it is disappointing, but she is going to need a lot of support from caucus and if we are truly B.C Liberals and team players we have to support her,” Clovechok said.
Recently Abbott visited the Columbia Valley and spoke to local people about what he felt was important for the future of B.C.
He proposed to tack a second question onto the HST referendum which he said would come in June or September. That question would be to ask the voting public if they would support any additional increments to the carbon tax after July 1, 2012. Abbott claimed to know the answer would and should be no. He said, “It’s not fair to our jurisdiction of 4.5 million people that we are using the carbon tax levy to undermine the economic competitiveness of sectors. We can’t do that, we should not do that, and that’s my view on that. It’s good that we’re leading the world in the fight (on climate change), but our 4.5 million people cannot carry 9 billion people in the world on their backs in terms of economic betterness.”
Abbott also answered questions about the possibility of a decision on whether or not the Jumbo Resort will get to move ahead.
Abbott suggested that the approval of the master plan was needed in order to proceed to the next step. When corrected from the audience that the master plan had been approved and that the Master Development Agreement was signed by the developers who were now waiting on the government, Abbott responded, “In my view Jumbo has waited a long time for this, and at this point the government needs to either act on that, which I believe they will, because we can’t leave you hanging for a very long time, so I support it.”
Clovechok explained that now that the race is over Clark has some important issues to work out quickly to help the party.
“The most important thing for the party is for her to bring unity to the caucus and to pick her cabinet. I think Bill Bennett (MLA East Kootenay) will have a role there. I do not have a crystal ball but I think from the reception I saw Bill getting not only from MLAs but also the reception he received from her (Clark) would indicate there is going to be another role for Bill,” Clovechok said.
When asked how important it was going to be to have the other candidates for the leadership in her cabinet Clovechok said, “They are three people with a great deal of experience and not to have them in her cabinet would be suicide.”
Locally Norm Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke said the initial response to Clark winning would be, “I want to offer congratulations. It is an accomplishment and she has taken on quite a responsibility.”
Though offering congratulations to Clark, Macdonald was disappointed that another candidate did not have a stronger performance in the race.
“I was hoping that the rural candidate George Abbott would do better. I think that he would have understood rural issues much better,” he said.
Though he does not know Clark well, Macdonald felt her previous record as an MLA and cabinet minister may raise some concerns for the province as a whole.
“As a minister of education she was pretty hard on rural and public schooling. During her time I think we closed almost 100 schools and most were in rural B.C. She made changes to special education funding that was harmful. You had, for the first time in a long time, rural schools that were forced to go to four day school weeks strictly for budgetary reasons.” he said. He explained that in his opinion that she was a minister in two different portfolios and never did well with either one of them.
Macdonald said he felt it was important to deal with the HST debate before any election was called and he thought that within a year it would be appropriate to have an election and get a mandate from the people of B.C.
If an election is called Clovechok is confident about the Liberals holding power.
In the Columbia-River-Revelstoke riding he explained that there has been a great deal of momentum gathered over the past four months and he hopes to keep things moving forward into the next election.
“I think that when you look at the NDP they are going to tell you what they want to tell you. The sentiment around here in Vancouver right now is that Christy Clark will beat the NDP,” he said.
He went on to say that if the NDP feel they can defeat a Clark-led Liberal party then they should just, “Bring it on.”
Both Clovechok and Macdonald are paying close attention to how things are dealt with over the next few months and how this will affect the future of the province.
“This is a new adventure and I love adventure,” Clovechok said.