In the old Road Runner cartoons, Wile E. Coyote had a nasty habit of running right off of cliffs. He’d get about five or six steps out, stop in mid-air, look down, look up, turn to the viewer and wave bye-bye, then drop like a stone to the canyon floor below.
We just saw the live action version of that in B.C. politics last week with NDP leader Adrian Dix stepping down as party leader, four months after leading his party to an absolutely stunning defeat in May’s provincial election.
Like the coyote, everyone knew what would happen to Dix. In an election that was clearly the NDP’s to lose, Dix lost it in a dazzling series of missteps and missed opportunities. The miracle was that he kept going for so long after the ground had completely disappeared from under him.
We suspect his painfully delayed departure may come to be his last mistake.
Compare Dix’s farewell to former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who fell on his sword immediately after taking his party to an ignominous third-place result in the 2011 federal election. By getting out of the way immediately, Ignatieff allowed the party to gain immediate attention from a leadership race. The result there is a rejuvenated federal Liberal party under new leader Justin Trudeau.
The NDP have no Trudeau waiting in the wings, though — just the same old candidates who Dix beat back in 2011.
But there is David Eby, who played giant-killer on election night, defeating premier Christy Clark and forcing her to seek a seat in a Kelowna byelection this past summer.
Back when the B.C. Liberals were in their own leadership race after Gordon Campbell’s resignation, Clark stood out among the candidates not for what she stood for, but for her simple message: she was the only one who could beat the NDP.
Eby can make that same claim. He has the same kind of advantages that Clark did: few ties to the internecine rivalries that have torn the NDP apart time and time again, a solid public profile outside of provincial politics with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Pivot Legal Society, and most importantly, the proven ability to beat his opponent.
The momentum of Eby jumping straight into a leadership race after having beaten Clark one-on-one might have been considerable.
Now, we’re not so sure.
Dix, in waiting so long to finally drop off the landscape, may have squandered his party’s best chance to regain the advantage.
Call it his parting gift to the government.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.