Tuesday, January 8, 2013
One Hundred Plus Reasons
BC independent journalist Laila Yuile writes for community newspapers, 24, blogs for HuffPo and on her own blogsite. She has a pretty good group of people following her work, which is why, when she asked them to come up with reminders of the Liberal record here in BC, they responded quickly, efficiently, and in volume.
The Liberal Party, first under Gordon Campbell and now under Christy Clark, have weathered some pretty strong political storms. Through it all, they've managed to maintain a majority government, even though they haven't broadened their support. Then they ran a campaign that swore they wouldn't bring in a harmonized sales tax, folding the federal and provincial taxes together. Six months later: harmonized sales tax.
Campbell thought he was running the standard playbook--bring in massive changes all at once in the first year of your mandate, and then spend the rest of it managing for re-election. It worked a treat for Ralph Klein in Alberta, and has proved successful enough that it's been used in Ontario and at the federal level as well. But the HST was different.
First, it was egregious. Negotiations on harmonization had to have been taking place for months before the election. And while harmonization was going to be good for large corporations, it was going to be brutal on smaller, local enterprises--like restaurants. And that pissed off the small business community who thought they had a champion in the Campbell government.
But the small business community found a new champion--even though he wasn't really all that new. Charismatic politician Bill Vander Zalm, former premier of the province leading a Social Credit government (precursors to the Liberals who fouled their brand so thoroughly under Vander Zalm that the party folded itself into the Liberal brand), picked up the banner. Using legislation brought in under a former NDP government (under great pressure from the Socreds), Bill announced a referendum drive to repeal the legislation harmonizing the two taxes.
With Zalm leading the charge, the HST was no longer a purely partisan issue in the legislature, but became a populist movement transcending partisan politics. The HST probably wasn't the worst Liberal idea to come out (abusing the poor and indigenous populations, a perennial favourite, was clearly worse), but the people of BC decided enough was enough, and used the referendum push to spank the ruling class.
The NDP admitted during the campaign that the referendum legislation had been crafted so that it was almost impossible to successfully complete a recall campaign. But when the people gets riled up.....
The referendum ultimately called, passed. Meaning that the government was compelled to reverse course on the HST ( still not reversed, btw), and started a slide in Liberal popularity even among their traditional supporters. Campbell, his personal brand trashed as badly as Bennett's and Zalm's before him, took a powder. The party, taking a leaf from the Socred playbook, elected a woman to replace him--figuring that the public and media would have a harder time attacking a female premier. But Christy Clark has been up to the challenge, and it looks like the province will get at least one term of NDP government starting in 2013.
But just to make sure that the boobs in power get what's coming to them, laila Yule's crew have provided a reminder to the province about the last decade of Liberal rule: 100 reasons the Liberals have to go.