FOULDS: Social Credit’s stepchildren perfect art of infighting
The first time the B.C. Social Credit Party died, the death spiral began in Whistler in 1986, when Bill Vander Zalm emerged from the convention as leader.
Five years later, W.A.C. Bennett’s powerhouse, the party that governed B.C. for 36 of the past 39 years, was reduced to being a political curiosity.
The fact the current Socreds, under the B.C. Liberal Party banner, are holding their final convention before the May 2013 election in the same resort can only be a seen as a bad omen.
Not that the Christy Clark Liberals need omens to foretell their bleak future.
They only need voters to remain peeved at how the HST was introduced. They only need voters to remain irate that nobody in the governing party will explain why guilty government staffers Dave Basi and Bob Virk had $6 million in legal bills paid for by taxpayers in the BC Rail trial. They only need the premier to continue to treat democracy with disdain by cancelling fall sittings of the legislature while insulting the very institution she is paid to lead and shape with her own, preferably better, vision.
The above would be considered simple fact entering this past weekend.
However, with the right-of-centre coalition’s heir apparent, the newest version of the Socreds under the B.C. Conservative Party, emulating the NFL by staging a weekend of mind-boggling weirdness, the B.C. Liberals might just remain relevant — at least as official opposition — when ballots are counted in May.
Such is the silliness of politics in B.C., which never fails to amaze and bewilder and excite through each and every decade.
On the weekend, B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins and his supporters won an internal battle against those opposed to his leadership via a leadership-review vote at the party’s annual general meeting in Langley.
Shortly thereafter, the party’s lone MLA, John van Dongen of Abbotsford-South, quit the Conservatives, only six months after leaving the B.C. Liberals to join the Conservatives. He will attend the Liberal convention in Whistler next month and did not outright reject rejoining the Grits.
Right before the AGM, John Martin, the Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Hope in the May byelection, also quit the party and joined the B.C. Liberals, prompting the B.C. NDP to mass email to news outlets an impressively long list of anti-Liberal quotes uttered by Martin in the very recent past.
There has been enough flip-flopping in this political arena to have soccer sue for copyright infringement.
Van Dongen leaves two political parties in a span of two months; Martin leaves a party and joins the mortal enemy four months after the byelection battle.
Need we add to the list?
On Nov. 20, 2010, Cummins, then-Conservative MP for Delta, visited the Kamloops Yacht Club, where he spoke to 16 people. At the time, Cummins was an advisor with the party and said without hesitation he was not interested in leaving federal politics to seek the B.C, Conservative leadership.
Cummins also told KTW on that day that the party was not interested in reaching out to dissident MLAs from other parties, be they then-NDP MLA Bob Simpson or then-ousted B.C. Liberal MLA Bill Bennett. Or even van Dongen, one presumes.
The B.C. Conservatives, Cummins said then, are “not the new Liberal party” and instead wanted to attract new people with new ideas.
Meanwhile, the advisory committee charged with igniting this new entity was composed of anything but new people with new ideas — Cummins, Randy White, Brian Peckford, Rita Johnston and Jim Hart.
Maybe the executive elected at this past weekend’s AGM will be the “new people with new ideas” as envisioned by Cummins. Perhaps the executive came up with the party’s proposal to revamp how and why the spring and fall sittings will take place.
However, if the B.C. Conservatives are not the new B.C. Liberals, perhaps the reverse is true, based on the wacky comings and goings that have happened — and likely will continue as the election campaign nears.