When B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced she planned to run for the Westside-Kelowna seat in the B.C. Legislature, she said she looked forward to being here a great deal during the byelection campaign, getting out, knocking on doors and meeting the voters.
But so far, it seems she has left the door-knocking to others in favour of photo ops and meetings and has treated the byelection campaign as more of a weekend project.
She has been here the last two weekends—including opening her campaign office on Saturday—and in between has been elsewhere doing what premiers do.
If her personal focus is winning the Westside-Kelowna seat by connecting with voters, it sure doesn’t show. While Westside-Kelowna is considered a “safe” seat for the Liberals given the ease with which the man who stepped aside for Clark, former MLA Ben Stewart, won the riding in the last two B.C. general elections, there may be a sense of complacency in the Clark camp.
Or maybe it’s just smart strategy for the party to use Stewart—who took 58 per cent of the vote in the May 14 general election—to act as the voice of the campaign given its clear Clark is a parachute candidate looking for a safe place to land.
But it does leave Clark open to criticism about her commitment to the riding.
A recorded telephone solicitation currently being used to drum up support for Clark features only Stewart’s voice asking voters to support the premier in her byelection bid. Clark’s name is mentioned but she is not heard asking voters to support her.
Her weekend stops in the riding since she called the byelection have been filed with meetings, business tours and events that don’t drop her on the door steps she said she looked forward to standing on.
Stewart and his former “Team Okanagan” colleagues, MLAs Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson have been pressed into duty to help win local support for Clark. And others are dropping in to help as well.
This week a blast from the past will campaign for Clark—former controversial Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal-turned Progressive Alliance MLA Judi Tyabji.
Tyabji, whose husband Gordon Wilson led the Liberal resurgence in the 1996 B.C. election taking the party to Opposition status before being ousted by Gordon Campbell, says she has been a friend of Clark’s for years and that’s why she’s helping Clark out.
As a provincial premier, Clark has a job to do that obviously stops her from spending the entire 28 days of the campaign here.
But, in the first few weeks of the campaign, it appears that without a camera around, Clark is happy to have others get her elected.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.