Christy Clark should try being more leader, less cheerleader

Rafe: Christy Clark should try being more leader, less cheerleader

Christy Clark should try being more leader, less cheerleader
BC Premier Christy Clark dons Canucks jersey during 2013 election campaign (Andy Clark / Reuters)

Nowhere in the appalling record of the Liberal government in Victoria has its shortcomings been more obvious than at the very top. Premier Christy Clark has been a terrible leader whose pronouncements get more and more embarrassing as time passes.

However, she so dominates the government that one is hard-pressed to think of even the names of her cabinet ministers, which doesn’t say much for their abilities or courage to speak out on issues.

Tsilhqot’in move merited praise…BUT the proof is in the pudding

I recently applauded Premier Clark for making formal contact with the Tsilhquot’in First Nation. I did this because she was right to do so. What she has said since makes me wonder if she really understood what she was supposed to be doing. That she understands the obvious politics in what she has done is clear but there is no evidence that she and her government comprehend what must now be a clear policy. We wait and see with hope, if not much confidence.

Absence of political courage

The premier simply cannot get serious. She always thinks of photo opportunities and public relations. In so doing, she totally discounts the need for common sense or consistency with other government policies. What she considers least is the impact of her airy-fairy words on the issue in question. Her need to make sense is permanently diminished by her inability to do so.

Nothing in this bankruptcy of leadership has suffered more than the area of energy and the environment.

The Mount Polley catastrophe and the absence of any investigation into her government’s own role simply typifies the utter disregard Premier Clark has for the requirements of leadership – one of the main ones being political courage.

On environment, media hasn’t held Clark’s feet to the fire

Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun has much disappointed me on environmental matters since the Liberals took office in 2001. It’s not what Palmer has said – it’s the absence of any comment whatsoever which is troubling.

Considering Palmer’s yeoman service when the in the NDP were in power, we were entitled to expect that this same close attention to government policy would be maintained. In fact, in these areas there has been none from the mainstream media.

LNG: house of cards crumbling

Palmer has, in my view, redeemed himself considerably by his writings on LNG. He has consistently poked at the government and their starry-eyed approach to this question and, as time has passed, it is becoming clear that those of us who from the very beginning were throwing cold water on Clark’s blatherings were right after all.

My own skepticism was fuelled simply by what I read about the energy situation in Asia – of much more importance were the words of experts such as economist Erik Andersen and energy scientists who made it clear that the government had no grounds whatsoever for its wild enthusiasm.

“Prosperity” fund shrinks from $100 Billion to “billions”

This, I think, is what is so troubling about the Premier’s actions past and present. You may remember that during the last election, the “Prosperity Fund” which was the subject of the premier’s reveries, was going to add a trillion dollars to our GDP and  $100 billion to our provincial coffers!

Instead of the premier and her experts in the energy field coldly and soberly analyzing the prospects for sale of LNG from BC plants to Asian markets, we got the fulminations of a cheerleader, the content of which made as much sense as most high school cheerleaders make. This is not what the public of British Columbia needs and indeed is not terribly helpful to the industry itself.

Today, Clark is promising only “billions of dollars” from LNG – but how many? “Billions” could technically be as few as two. She’s  considerably less specific on that point today…

Palmer, in carefully researched interventions, is bringing doses of reality to badly-hyped government propaganda.

NDP opposition not much help either

Unhappily, the leader of the NDP, John Horgan is not much more helpful than Clark. In the very beginning, he anchored himself to a policy of supporting LNG – without any clear idea as to what that blanket support was going to entail. Now, instead of being able to criticize government policy, he is stuck with past pronouncements.

Leadership is not cheerleading

Leadership is not about raising unreasonable expectations or allowing those expectations to remain unchallenged. Quite the opposite. Leadership is about cool, unemotional analysis of issues and putting careful processes in place to make sure that initiatives are successful.

There is nothing the matter, of course – and, indeed, a great deal right – about government and opposition leaders supporting that which is good for the province of British Columbia. It is courageously determining whether or not it is good that is the sign of leadership.

There seems to be little any of us can do about it. So long as the Liberal Party is content to stay with Ms. Clark, she will likely stay. Dislodging a sitting leader is a daunting prospect, indeed. As the NDP have shown, it’s difficult enough to dislodge one that isn’t sitting.

Unless there is a miraculous sea change in the attitude from Mr. Horgan and his party, they are not going to provide the “government-in-waiting” that oppositions are supposed to provide. This is a most unhealthy situation.

Media matters

Once more, this all underlines the importance of a vigilant media. Mr. Palmer deserves credit for his assumption of leadership on the LNG issue. This leadership, must, however, be broadened to include the entire energy picture – and, of course, the overall issue of the environment.

This journal will continue to be ever on top of these issues, but it needs help from the mainstream media, who thus far have abdicated their responsibilities herein.

May the example of Mr. Palmer extend to others at his newspaper, the Vancouver Sun, television media and others.

Only when it does will we have a force in this province that effectively holds governments’ feet to the fire and exposes the puerile blatherings of the premier for what they are.


About 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

15 thoughts on “Rafe: Christy Clark should try being more leader, less cheerleader

  1. As I grow older I become more pedantic, Rafe so I am not going to let you get away with “fulminations”. From the Latin fulmen meaning lightning, to fulminate means to throw thunderbolts (think of Zeus) and thus to use forceful and pointed invective against someone or thing (think of Churchill). Neither of these uses of the word fulminate could be applied to the vapid witterings of our mendacious trollop as she stumbled her way through the last election ( think of Victoria Beckham).

    Anyway it was nice to hear from you again.

  2. I’m sorry, but I find it ironic that after centuries of neglect and abuse we seem to expect First Nations to lead the clean-up of our effluent-not-affluent society. Most of the Canadian citizenry sat bland and oblivious while genocidal treatment was visited on First Nations, their children kidnapped and held in concentration camps called Residential Schools, their health and welfare deliberately kept below acceptable levels. And now we want them to give a shite about us?
    Of course I support them in their valiant struggle to protect their territory and resources. But it does gripe me that so many who have fence-sat for so long suddenly want those who have no reason to have any use for us at all, to defend our rights.
    Thank Gawd, most FN don’t share my caustic view. They will treat us much better than we have ever treated them.

  3. I wasn’t living in BC during the last provincial election, but friends told me that the NDP rather weakest campaign they’d ever seen. They completely refused, it seems, to hold the cheerleader and the party accountable for what they had done and not done during their time in office. This apparently was some ridiculous attempt to be “positive”. It’s almost like the forces that are now destroying our country and the planet ran the campaign and that intelligence and common sense were completely absent.

  4. I have NEVER considered Christy Clark an intellectual. Her “blue collar folksy talkin'” seems to have fooled most of the electorate.
    Giver her enough time, she’ll ride that gift horse straight to Hell.

  5. Well said. My only critique (this may sound sarcastic or hyperbolic, though it is not) is I think the article is insulting to cheerleaders. The stereotype of cheerleader as “dumb” is unfair. I agree with all the concerns about our current government. The only thing democratic about Christy Clark’s Liberal Party is that we elected them.

    1. Or did ‘we’ elect them?

      With Manning Institute trained professional dirty tricks harpercon interlopers like Dmitri Soudas, Ken Boessenkool, MacIntyre, Pantazapoulos, Morgan, MacLean and others slithering around the hapless preemy in the cabbage patch, orchestrating myriad tried and true harpercon/presto manipulations of the ‘system’, did our votes (other than stopping the preemy in her BC Rail tracks ’til she took the underground to the Kelowna Conclave to circumcise the incumbent hack) really decide the outcome?

      Where are they now?

  6. Except of course cheerleaders tend to be pretty, young, perky and attractive. Even though Christy Clark is an accomplished liar she really can not fool us into thinking that she has any of the assets that cheerleaders have.

  7. Your comments give me chills Rafe. I cannot see a future for this province under this current government. I see a future of suffering for all of us. I watched an interview on APTN where Christy Clark was telling the interviewer that the water in Quesnel lake was SAFE to drink. She said that more fish have died due to the study of the effect the spill had on fish, than were killed by the spill itself. Does that sound remotely reasonable? Quesnel lake is the deepest, glacier fed lake in Canada and we are allowing this poisoned tailing pond sludge water to be pumped into it continuously. The damage to this area is insurmountable and she discounts it like it’s an every day occurrence. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that our environment is being sold to the highest bidder. Am I the only one who feels this way? Why aren’t more people outraged about this?
    I was on a web site today, reading comments from teachers and parents discussing the tentative agreement between the BCFT, teachers and the government. The parents are trying to find ways to fund raise to supply their children’s class rooms with learning material so the teachers won’t have to buy it themselves this year. They are gearing up to volunteer in the class rooms to ease the burden of the teacher. The teachers are considering this a step in the right direction pending the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. They are trusting this government to stand by it’s word and renegotiate class size and composition if the court rules in BCTF’s favour. Didn’t the teachers just go through a hellish strike to alleviate these problems? Why would they ratify what is essentially a worse deal than what they were dealing with prior to the strike? Why would they trust this government to keep their word when they have broken every promise they have ever made?
    What is happening to health care in BC. I live in the north east, we are having a severe crisis in health care in that we have few doctors and nurses. We are a community of 26,000 in our city and another 20,000 from neighbouring communities that use our facilities. That leaves 20,000+ people without a family doctor. Our cost of living is 4X higher than our southern cities, the cost of housing is many time higher as well. We can’t attract health care professionals because of these reasons and nobody can blame them for not wanting to live up here given our high cost of living with no real return on their investment to relocate here. People here often travel to larger centers in Alberta to receive adequate health care. We are the hub of oil and gas here, the revenue that comes from our region is significant, yet our basic needs as British Columbians are not being met, even though we pay the same premiums as the rest of the province. Our complaints have been systematically ignored.

    The people of this province need to stand up and say enough!! We need to look into recall options for our MLA’s when they fail to help the people in their riding’s. We need to begin to organize protests that will make this latest teachers strike seem like child’s play. Until we stand up for ourselves, collectively, this government is going to take down this province.

    1. If you were referring to the FIPPA when you mentioned trade deals, I and many others, are appalled and frightened by this horrible corporate charter that our scary national leader has signed. Both the undemocratic and secret way it was negotiated, the way it was put through with no debate in parliament, no public consultation, is a clear indication of how bad it is for us. is circulating information about what they, with our help, are doing. I think now we just can’t count on elected officials anymore and need to put our energies with citizens’ groups like the Council of Canadians, Leadnow, and CCPA (currently undergoing a horrendous “audit” for their so-called left wing opinions). And also, really get behind the First Nations and give them all the support we can. That’s my view, anyway.

      1. Its interesting.
        All over the world, political “dynasties” are being replaced with minority govts.
        The electorate is slowly waking up via the “non biased media” internet. The posted bulletins of the electronic age.

        People seem to want honest, responsible, effective, accountable govt.
        Eventually the politicians will “get it” and be dragged kicking and screaming into the daylight of the internet age.

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