Hodge: Premier’s byelection decision not a total surprise

From a straight strategic perspective it makes logical sense that Clark would seek a seat that is pretty much a slam-dunk to win.

Just when we thought the never ending wondrous world of B.C. politics could not get any more bizarre—the Liberal government pulls another rabbit out of the proverbial political hat.

It sort of reminds me of this line from Alice in Wonderland: “It gets curiouser and curiouser.”

Kelowna-Westside re-elected Liberal MLA Ben Stewart has offered up his hard-earned seat at the Big House in Victoria so that reigning Premier Christy Clark—who did not win her own Vancouver-Point Grey riding—can run here in the byelection and hopefully secure herself a front-row spot in the legislative assembly. Whoda thunk?

A few weeks back I suggested that the possibility existed that political climber and self-absorbed Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton would give up his provincial party seat won in the recent election, therefore maintaining his status in Penticton, not ticking off the voters in that community, and earn big points for political favours down the road. But that didn’t happen.

I also suggested that perhaps Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick might perform the honourable self-sacrifice and offer up his spot.

Apparently he did, as did Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thompson (a gem of a fellow).

But at the end of the day, Clark chose Stewart’s head for loping.

Hmm…to quote an old Star Trek star, “Is that weird, or what?”

Of course, from a straight strategic perspective it makes logical sense that Clark would seek a seat that is pretty much a slam-dunk to win.

The Liberals can’t afford another embarrassment at the polls and so picking a spot in the sunny Socred birthplace such as Kelowna makes sense. I just never considered Stewart as the option. I like him. I may not be keen on his leader, but Stewart is a good man from a good Okanagan family and has served our area well.

I have no doubts there is much more to this whole saga than we will ever know. Stewart, being the calm, cool and calculated character he is, will never let us be the wiser.

But rest assured he will be taken care of in the wake of what the premier called his “heroic” sacrifice for her behalf.

Of course, well-known political columnist Alex Tsakumis had this entire scenario nailed a few days ago when he first suggested the ‘Ben for Christy’ ploy was in play.

Tsakumis told any reader who checked out his inky thoughts: “You heard it here first. Christy Clark’s negatives are so strong in almost every single last one of the safest B.C. Liberal ridings in the province, her people have been forced to approach Westside-Kelowna MLA, and all round good guy, Ben Stewart, to step aside for the good of the premier. Clark, I’m told, will run in a byelection in Kelowna and may even have plans to move there…”

So here we are. Once again it seems Kelowna is destined to play home and host to a B.C. ‘right wing’ premier—whether we want to or not. Clark will never gain the adoration of locals such as W.A.C. Bennett did or even that of his son, former premier Bill Bennett. The only question for me is, if Clark wins, will she hold an annual garden party in town like Wacky did and will I be invited?

There is the absolute long-shot that protest voters angered with a byelection will rally to defeat Clark yet again.

NDP candidate Carolyn Gordon is apparently running once more, and according to my Conservative sources, that party plans to parachute in a a ‘strong’ candidate for the byelection brawl. (‘Strong’ rules out party leader John Cummins, of course). Regardless, the odds are good that when the dust settles, Clark will have finally ‘earned’ her spot in the Big Chair at the Big House.

And that, of course, only means a field day for media headline writers. I can see it now…K-Town Christy Rides Again’ or ‘Christy Captures K-Town.’

Only in B.C. you say? Some things never change.


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