The contrast between winning and losing was never clearer than on Friday.
There was the New Democratic Party (the losers). Still coming to terms with the upcoming departure of leader Adrian Dix, they were given another chance to obsess over the election loss, with the Vancouver Sun’s leaked account of former campaign manager Brian Topp’s long, dismal explanation of how they blew the election. For party members, it’s about as exciting as the weather forecast.
And there was Premier Christy Clark (the winner), centre stage at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. She urged hundreds of municipal leaders onward and upward, talked about seizing the chance of a lifetime and promised a new bridge.
Her explanation of the vote was a lot more succinct than Topp’s.
“There’s no magic to winning an election . . . We talked about something that matters.”
She told delegates she knew the economy and jobs would matter, so she stuck to the plan and concentrated on that.
The difference was even clearer when Clark was asked later about the state of the NDP.
It was clear she couldn’t care less.
“I’ve put politics behind me,” she said. “The NDP will have a year or so of politics ahead of them, but my obligation is to get out there and govern.”
She took pains to note she made the same point at the carefully publicized meeting earlier with two labour leaders, both of them obvious NDP supporters.
The main message from her speech seemed to be a repeated call for unity as a prerequisite for “getting on with it.” That’s a pretty rare condition in B.C. politics.
Clark won the election with a jobs-first message that leaned heavily on the liquefied natural gas project. But she won it with just a four-point edge in the popular vote, and there are any number of people who dismiss LNG.
The more people who get skeptical or drift away from the B.C. Liberal vision, the harder it gets to execute.
So the UBCM convention is the prime place to rally support for LNG, and for her first full term in general.
“When we work together, we all know the sky is the limit,” she told delegates. If inspirational speeches don’t do the trick, she sweetened the pot with a direct appeal to municipal interests.
She announced a fund that will appeal to local leaders closest to the action. Towns on the north coast will have a modest $150,000 fund from which to study the impacts that huge
industrial growth will have on local infrastructure.
Clark also came up with an LNG Buy B.C. Program that is supposed to connect the multinational corporations investing in LNG with B.C. suppliers.
“We are going to ensure that as many benefits as possible flow from the resource to the owners of that resource ... the people in every corner of this province.”
Many view the LNG concept as a far-off vision, but Clark stressed that some of it is happening here and now.
“I’ve got news for the pessimists,” Clark said, listing the current situation. One company has invested $800 million on an LNG plant site, with 500 people working on it.
She won the election by running on hope inspired by economic growth. It’s clear she’s going to ride that theme as far as it takes her.