Twenty-eight days before she announced she was stepping down as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party and MLA for Kelowna-West, Christy Clark vowed to stay on and fight for her constituents and the people of the Interior and Northern B.C.
But it’s now clear she had no intention of keeping that vow.
On Monday she admitted “in her heart” she knew it was time to go well before that. She said she thought about quitting after the election when it was clear the NDP and Greens would topple her government in a confidence vote and on the day NDP leader John Horgan was asked by B.C.’s Lieutenant-Governor to form a new government following that vote.
But that did not stop her from publicly stating on July 1 at the Kelowna Canada Day celebrations—a week later—that she wasn’t going anywhere.
“I will stay on as long as my caucus wants me to and needs me to and I intend to stay on as MLA for Kelowna West,” said Clark.
“It’s really important that the new government realize the province doesn’t end at the Lower Mainland and almost none of the Interior or the North is represented in the government right now. So this area’s going to need people fighting for it and I’m going to stay there to do that.”
Despite her caucus wanting her to stay and Clark saying she knew then there’s a time for all politicians to call it quits and this was her time, it’s clear that for the former B.C. premier wasn’t going to play the game if she didn’t get to carry the ball. She had no intention to sit as the leader of the Opposition. Heck, she won’t even serve in a party in Opposition.
Her resignation is a slap in the face to her Kelowna West constituents given her Canada Day comments—now known to have been made after she decided in her heart it was time to go.
In the election earlier this year, more than 60 per cent of those who voted in Kelowna West voted for Clark.
While it’s not unusual for a party leader whose government falls to quit, it’s another thing to tell the public you are staying when you know that’s not true. Ms. Clark, your constituents deserved better.
Some political pundits have said in recent days that Clark, despite the good economic job she had overseen by her government in the last six-and-a-half years, may be remembered for two things: Pulling out an election victory in 2013 she was not expected to win and botching the 2017 election. She lost her party’s majority then flip-flopped on a number of Liberal positions in a desperate bid to stop the NDP-Green alliance from toppling her government with its combined one-seat advantage.
But around here, she should also be remembered for not telling her constituents the truth when it mattered the most.
Clark is not sticking around to fight for anyone. She says she’s done with politics. So why did she say the opposite three weeks ago when she knew she was already gone?
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News