Common Sense Canadian

Rafe: Liberals’ broken promises should make for tough election year

Posted January 3, 2016 by Rafe Mair in Energy and Resources
Rafe- Liberals' broken promises should make for a tough election year

Christy Clark being sworn in as premier in 2013 (Province of BC / Flickr CC licence)

This is the time of year and the point in the government’s mandate that analysis of the months to come is de rigeur.

Time will demonstrate that Christy Clark’s big mistake, when assuming the premiership, was not nullifying Gordon Campbell’s Energy Program which has, predictably, enriched large international corporations and bankrupted BC Hydro. Had Clark tackled this issue, with a courage of which we have seen no sign, restored BC Hydro’s obligation to make new power and abrogated the sweetheart deal with the private companies, BC Hydro would be in decent financial shape and site C would still be the pipe dream of pointy-headed BC Hydro energy assessors.

In over her head

Ms. Clark’s second mistake was seeking the premiership in the first place, it now having been clearly demonstrated that she had none of the necessary skills. Past premiers who’ve been able to operate with limited skills surrounded themselves with talented advisers who understood history, world affairs, and the psychology of the public. This the premier has clearly avoided.

The Clark government has been a calamity on social issues: education, welfare and health, with the Ministry of Children and Family Development being the most tragic. Given Clark’s record as education Minister, this is no surprise.

Christy Clark went into government with no discernible experience at anything, least of all business, spawning a culture of political and economic ignorance the likes of which we’ve never seen before, not even with the worst of the NDP daydreamers.

Christy promised the world…and couldn’t deliver

All apples went into the LNG basket. From the outset, expert after expert predicted precisely what would happen. This paper led the way, presenting experts from all facets of the worldwide energy business stating that if there were viable markets for British Columbia – a dubious proposition – we were too late, with too little and too far away. It seemed that every warning was followed almost instantly by a confirming news story. Rather than listen to honest experts she didn’t agree with, Clark chose international crooks who promised the mother lode of all riches.

Bad enough if the premier had simply said LNG was promising for BC but in fact she touted it as the only thing for BC and painted glorious pictures of a “Prosperity Fund”, all provincial debts paid, employment everywhere and a province whose financial troubles were forever behind them. Needless to say, it’s not easy to back away from such a promise.

Clark, with no experience at anything, has dealt with corporate giants, absent any advice except from flatterers who would profit at our expense, while her high-profile, voluble principal adviser, Rich Coleman, is a joke – unless you believe that one can jump from a cop car into the boardrooms of world business and make intelligent deals about international energy matters which confound the most experienced experts. This has been her largest political mistake and has removed the tiniest vestige of credibility from her and her party.

What’s the alternative?

Rafe- BCNDP convention shows they still don't get it

Leader John Horgan at BCNDP convention (NDP/facebook)

The Liberals’ only strength may be that nobody is ready to take over! There may just not be a government-in-waiting.

John Horgan made the fundamental error of supporting the government on their key policy decision, namely LNG. He has married the party to that issue from the moment the exploration for gas starts till the day the LNG tanker leaves our waters, thus has abdicated any right to criticize any part of the process.

As Lord Randolph Churchill famously said, “it is the duty of the opposition to oppose.” This is not an idle gibe but a sanctified political axiom. Under our system, the opposition, even though it may not have its heart in it, must always hold the government to account for every jot and tittle of its policy. If it doesn’t, what’s happened to Mr. Horgan and the NDP is inevitable – approving the government’s policy also means adopting all of its shortcomings, whether you like it or not. If anything goes bad, you’re stuck with it as much as the government.

NDP still has some cards it can play

Liberal cabinet members are, putting it kindly, nonentities, the exception being (perhaps) Finance Minister Mike de Jong who, since he went on that Asian LNG caper last summer to Malaysia, has carefully taken cover and artfully distanced himself from Christy and the Gumshoe. On the other hand, the NDP front benchers are better known, experienced and not without some ability. Mr. Horgan must find a way to use them effectively and get them better known.

The question is whether Opposition Leader John Horgan has the political balls to say something to this effect: 

Energy is the issue – clean energy. Fossil fuels are not only not the answer, they are the problem. We cannot meet our climate change commitments and still produce, use and export fossil fuels. We can’t have it both ways. It will take special effort, conservation, alternative and new energy sources. It means real sacrifice and dedication. We have no choice but to abandon make-believe, phony politics and bullshitting the public. None of us can claim any longer that there’s an easy way out, a silver or LNG bullet – that’s the past.

We thought LNG could benefit us all but we were wrong, as the Paris Conference recently demonstrated. John Horgan and the NDP stand for immediate, longterm, tough policies and, given a mandate, we will not waver.

We have no more time – there are no easy options left.

How Horgan can win in 2017

Is this a dangerous position for John Horgan and the NDP to take?

Of course – all political positions are dangerous. People don’t like bad news. But this one has the huge advantage of being honest. Fossil fuels, global warming, atmospheric degradation, environmental protection and matters of that sort – things that seemed so airy-fairy less than a decade ago – are now front and centre in the minds of the public. Not all politicians have caught up to this, yet, to many campaigners in the recent federal election, the main issue on the front porch was the environment.

This tells me that Mr. Horgan can start again and that if he does, he can win in 2017.

If, on the other hand, he continues to drift and dream, he and his party will accomplish the impossible: running second to the worst government British Columbia has ever had.


About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at



    I talk to my Dad about politics quite often and we are highly anticipating what Christy’s magical election tour will promise in 2017. She certainly can’t bullshit about LNG this time around so what will it be? You know she will come up with something big grand and impossible to attain in reality.

    I remember listening and reading information during the last campaign when she was promising all those numbers and even then people were saying the price and supply of LNG would make it impossible to achieve a fraction of her promises. I am not even sure the electorate knows that at this stage and may forgive her when she says “unforseen world economic turmoil has changed the price of selling it”.. blah blah blah….

    And let’s say her plan worked… can you imagine our province in 2040 that had 16 LNG plants pumping shit into the ground and air, thousands of tankers along our coast with a major spill from time to time….. in an era where the world will be pushing people to stop building this stuff… what a nightmare…. I am very happy everything she said was bullshit and it is going to fail.

    I really hope she gets punished in 2017 for this whole LNG bullshit; I fear that she will come with something else that will woo enough voters over once again. I am not an NDPer but I tell you I won’t be voting for the Libs with her running the show.


      I’m pretty sure the new 3 billion dollar bridge over the Deas Tunnel will be well under way as will the Dam at Site “C”.
      Preemier Photo Op wont miss a beat and will doff a hardhat and tight clothes for a “presser” with the great unwashed blue collar workers that will show up for the free food with bemused looks on their faces…..All paid for by the companies that have won the “bids” to build these monstrosities. ( I’m guessin SNC-Lavalin will be in there earning a profit like a dirty shirt what with all those expensive court cases pending back east and all)


    Perhaps we could start a “Go Fund Me” page for the NDP campaign…..

    Hey , if Laura Miller can raise 30k in a few days for her legal defense fund for her Ontario govt deleted email “indiscretions” , perhaps the NDP can hop on the same wagon train.,d.cGc

    Sociopaths and their followers…….

    I wonder how many Liberals have “contributed” because their names are up there for everyone to see.
    Dont want to be left out or “shamed” for not helping a former liberal cohort in her battle against the Ontario court system.
    But I’m sure everything will be just fine. She recieved a ringing endorsement from our squeeky clean Preem for her “integrity” and all that…..of course if a conviction is forthcoming Christy may wanna delete that statement.


      The NDP needs more than money. It needs leadership that understands what being HM Loyal Opposition in a parliamentary system means.

      When John Horgan told me before he became leader, in then leader Carole James office ironically, that he supported LNG because ” we can’t oppose everything” I knew that here was a man who simply did not understand the system and the raw truth of Lord Randolph’s aphorism “It’s the duty of the government to propose and the duty of the opposition to oppose.” Unless he can learn that, and quickly, Christy has a free ride


        I can see how the NDP don’t want to appear as opposed to everything. But bad ideas (ie LNG and Site C) should be opposed.


    Well Rafe you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    While Christy may be mercifully devoid of the ravages of intelligence, compassion, empathy or morals….
    The NDP seems to be happy to sit and let things ride as they are….
    Mind you the last election campaign was very short and it seemed as if the voters didnt really wake up until the last week. Perhaps the NDP is gonna wait this one out til the very end? Voters typically have the attention span of 20 dogs in a parking lot with 300 fire hydrants.
    I’m wondering if her poll numbers leading into the election convince her to step down and let someone else take the reigns……I’m sure there’s a cushy job awaiting in the private sector for someone who’s enriched the multinational fat cats that have fiscally raped and pillaged their way through this province over the past 4 years.

    John's Aghast

    A fairly succinct synopsis of her qualifications. Are you sure you weren’t one of her SFU professors? Or at the Sorbonne?


    Let’s talk about the Green Party. Let’s keep talking about the Green Party. Let’s keep talking about them so the public has a chance to consider voting Green.

    Teresa The Sailor

    Great post. Christy Clark’s only talent or interest is political battling, she is not aware of how governments need to work, and she seems very narcissistic. When she was on CKNW she seemed to really have to use all her will to sound caring or compassionate and it never sounded sincere, even with the pink shirt program. She is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. I am so sorry that she got the leadership in the first place and that the NDP lost that one, as it was theirs in the bag until they went and handed it over to the Liberal party. BC’s big loss.

    Sandra Harris

    What would we expect from a Manning Center graduate? According to Duffy Harper used post-it notes too! Harper and Clark are and have always been in lockstep. Clark is Harper’s Strepford wife! ABC! Anyone but Clark! She’s no Liberal but she is a CON!


    Rafe Mair, you don’t mince words. That has become a rare commodity and I thank you. We must hope that Clark admits to herself that she is not suitable for the position. She has surrounded herself with yes men/women. They’re merely protecting their turf by agreeing with her. Sad when a person’s conscience can be sold that way.

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