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B.C. VIEWS: Recall descends into ugly farce
VICTORIA – The rough beast of recall has slouched into Kamloops and Comox, carrying with it the rank smell of the failing effort in Oak Bay.
Next up in this venomous venture is Vernon, starting on March 15, Fight HST maestro Bill Vander Zalm vowed in a swing through the unlucky North Okanagan city last week.
“More canvassers are signing up in Oak Bay-Gordon Head to help put recall over the top there,” Vander Zalm bragged in a news release describing a standing-room-only crowd in Vernon. “We had a terrific meeting in a snowy Kamloops last night with 45 canvassers to kick off that campaign, and now this! It’s faaaaantastic!”
This is a change to Vander Zalm’s tune on the bid to muscle out Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong. The previous week he posted an open letter to supporters pleading for money and volunteers, while conceding that the cherry-picked swing constituency in suburban Victoria was still less than halfway to its goal with time running out. Former Social Credit attorney general Brian Smith and former NDP premier Dan Miller both spoke out to denounce this anti-tax recall as inappropriate.
Smith told me about Oak Bay residents being approached repeatedly after refusing to sign the Chong petition. He called it “abuse.” But apparently Chong’s central message is getting through: getting rid of her won’t get rid of the harmonized sales tax.
In Kamloops-North Thompson, where MLA Terry Lake is the strategic swing-riding target, the NDP-affiliated organizer told Kamloops This Week he was concerned about recall canvassers being diverted to work on NDP leadership campaigns. Nope, nothing partisan there.
As the U.S. pondered the role of angry, threatening rhetoric in politics, B.C.’s acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James was invited on CKNW radio to describe the hate mail he received after rejecting the first version of the Oak Bay-Gordon Head petition for having too many words. (This delayed it for all of a week.)
There were hundreds of e-mails to this mild-mannered legislature clerk, urged on by a typical screed sent out by Fight HST demanding his resignation. One of the milder missives wished James a slow death from cancer. More serious threats and death wishes prompted police to provide security to his home and the Elections BC office.
Fight HST ringmaster Chris Delaney, along with the NDP-affiliated recall organizer for Oak Bay, downplayed this. Delaney suggested the timing was suspicious, as per his earlier baseless attacks on James’ impartiality.
Vander Zalm also muttered about the government working with James and unspecified elements of the “Big Corporate Media” to scuttle the recall. This is the latest vision to emerge from the Fight HST clown car of conspiracy theories. Previous scenarios featured Canada being taken over by the European Union, and the shopworn plot to impose world government in the name of global warming.
Delaney continues his frantic efforts to launch the B.C. First Party, which is coincidentally being developed in tandem with the recall campaign.
In his role as B.C. First “spokesman,” Delaney recently cranked out a new conspiracy. The B.C. Liberals are forcing BC Hydro to undertake expensive repairs to dams and transmission facilities, not to expand or prevent further blackouts in downtown Vancouver, but to make BC Hydro go broke! Then they’re going to sell it off to General Electric!
This is a variation on a loopy theory advanced by Rafe Mair, wherein Gordon Campbell plots to dam the Fraser River and then sell Hydro off to GE.
NDP leadership candidates would be wise to follow Miller’s lead and distance themselves from this increasingly toxic exercise.
Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com.