Gerding: Clark is facing a short stint as premier of B.C.

Given recent political gaffes, the momentum behind the idea that Premier Clark is headed for a catastrophe at the polls will only intensify.

Some may view the growing list of retiring Liberal MLAs this week as the rats leaving a sinking political ship.

For others, it may be seen as a Liberal caucus cleansing, bringing in some fresh faces, new ideas to revive the floundering Liberal Party flagship in B.C.

But given the recent political gaffes by Premier Christy Clark and her advisors, the momentum behind the idea that she is headed for a catastrophe at the polls next year will only intensify.

This past week, Kevin Falcon, George Abbott, Mary McNeil, John Les all announced their decisions to step away from politics. They join a list of eight other MLAs who won’t be back.

And then there is Fraser Valley MLA John van Dongen, a political wildcard who crossed the floor to join the B.C. Conservative Party while continuing a personal mission to uncover whatever was hidden behind the controversial sale of B.C. Rail.

Few of these fleeing politicians actually supported Clark in her successful bid to win the party leadership, rallying behind Falcon on the final ballot at the convention.

Already, political pundits are speculating that Falcon will sit out the next election and let Clark twist in the wind, leaving the way for him to re-emerge as the party’s potential political salvation come the next election in 2017.

Even at our community level, cherry growers meeting earlier this month were encouraged to pressure the local MLAs to seek more help for fruit growers, who are facing a tough harvest year and market price instability, because the three local Liberal MLAs are worried about keeping their jobs in the next election.

Trying to counter such speculation has to be disappointing both to the premier and those Liberal party member “outsiders” who voted for her as leader.

While she may have tried to mend fences and get the cabinet united behind her, however she specifically set out to do that, it doesn’t appear to have worked.

And she is facing an electorate that is not interested in the tired old fear mongering line that an NDP government will ruin any chance for economic growth in B.C.

The reality is the Liberals have been in power too long, and like any government in that situation, it begins to feed on itself as the satisfaction drive for perks and influence overtakes the reasons why the Liberals were elected in the first place.

The HST kerfuffle, the stink over the B.C. Rail case, the lack of involvement in the Enbridge pipeline proposal are three areas where Clark hasn’t emerged with a fresh outlook. It is disappointing that someone with Clark’s apparent potential, a previously high-ranking cabinet minister under Campbell who built up a solid following in her talk radio career discussing issues with listeners she now faces, seems to have so little to offer.

Politics can be a fluid business, but right now it seems like holding on to hope that momentum will swing back in Clark’s favour prior to the 2013 provincial election isn’t looking very good.

Kelowna Capital News