Waters: Now it’s up to Westside-Kelowna voters to decide

The by-election pitting Premier Christy Clark against seven challengers, including the NDP's Carole Gordon, goes Wednesday.

As election campaign criticism goes, it was a doozy.

During last week’s Westside-Kelowna all-candidates meeting in Westbank, independent candidate Dayleen Van Ryswyk, wondered aloud what Premier Christy Clark would offer voters next in what she felt was a long line of promises.

“Maybe somebody needs an ovary,” she said to gasps of horror from the 400 people on hand.

Now, I’m sure Van Ryswyk, who lost the NDP candidacy last month over her previous Internet comments concerning French Canadians and aboriginal people, thought she was being funny. But she wasn’t .

It was disrespectful and, unfortunately, shows that when it comes to politics, to paraphrase and reverse a phrase from a once-popular, albeit sexist, cigarette advertising campaign, some of us haven’t come a long way, baby.

No one would have considered asking Clark’s predecessor Gordon Campbell if he was planning to offer one of his testicles to voters in any campaign he ran in.

To Clark’s credit, she shrugged off the comment and to the credit of her main challengers, they were just as shocked and critical as many in the audience.

As the front-runners in this byelection, both Clark and her NDP challenger Carole Gordon have performed well in the campaign. Clark, the more seasoned politician, was expected to do so. Gordon, on the other hand, was a political rookie until last month’s provincial election and has been a surprise this time around.

She has been the aggressor, but has done it in a respectful, yet firm, way, sometimes sounding like the school teacher she is, using her self-described “teacher” voice. And she’s done it running a campaign appearing to cost far less than the shock and awe blitz of the Liberals.

Clark has a lot more on the line however. The premier is widely expected to win Wednesday as a loss would be devastating, the second rejection by voters in a B.C. riding in two months. And, it would be in an area she describes as the “cradle of free-enterprise.” It could cost her the Liberal leadership.

Clark has faced fierce criticism from Gordon and B.C. Conservative Sean Upshaw but has easily held her own. And, unlike in the provincial election, her strategy this time has been to play the positivity card.

Most, except a handful of die-hard NDP supporters, realize this race is Clark’s to lose, given the strong support her predecessor Ben Stewart received May 14 and the popularity of the Liberal brand here.

But Gordon deserves credit. She has also held her own in this, her second go round as the local NDP candidate. Experience, it seems, has taught her well.

Now it’s up to voters to decide who gets the Westside-Kelowna seat.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.


Kelowna Capital News