The B.C. Liberals left their troubles far behind at their convention this weekend, and whipped up enthusiasm for their chances in the next election.
Premier Christy Clark closed the two-day meeting Saturday by contrasting B.C.'s relatively strong economic performance with inconsistent NDP policies on such things as natural-gas development and pipelines.
She accused the Opposition of hiding its plan, but warned that what's leaking out - repeal of the balanced-budget law, higher corporate taxes - will cost jobs. Her party has been slumping in the polls for a year, but was buoyed recently by B.C. Conservatives' troubles. Enthusiasm through the weekend inspired further confidence among the 900 delegates.
Clark roused supporters by pitching an ambitious Liberal vision to make the province the economic engine of Canada, compared to the NDP's mild, low-key approach to the next election.
"We have a big vision, a bold vision for our province - not a modest agenda, a bold one."
On the Enbridge pipeline issue, she said she has felt "lonely" at times while fighting to see B.C.'s conditions observed.
"But I am going to fight fiercely for my province on the national stage. I will stand up for B.C. ... and I will not let you down."
Prior to her speech, the party tried to hold a secret strategy session with two campaigners. It turned into an hour of deeply serious absurdity.
Political turnaround specialists Stephen Carter from Alberta and Don Guy from Ontario delivered a top-secret briefing in a closed room. Meanwhile, reporters ejected from the room lounged about in the hall reading tweets from avid party members who'd been encouraged earlier to become "digital influencers" and were eager to share the wisdom.
The message, as filtered through the doors and the dozens of tweets, is this:
? The electorate is volatile - many won't commit until a week before the May 14 vote.
? There are lots of examples of comebacks and surprise wins - see the B.C. Lions last year, Alison Redford and others.
? Pollsters, pundits and political scientists are the holy trinity of political incompetence.
? People respond to authenticity and commitment, but negative ads still work.
Earlier, delegates goaded the labour movement with two controversial resolutions.
They passed a call for a law barring public-sector unions from "using union money for any political purposes."
An advocate said dues are being used for activities members may not agree with, but others cautioned against the idea, which passed despite the caution.
They also passed a call for new financial-disclosure laws for public-sector unions, to bring their lobbying and NDP donations into public view. The goal is to "increase transparency and accountability" within unions.
The NDP's central office collected more than $800,000 from unions last year, a healthy share of its $4.4-million fundraising total.
A third resolution called for allowing teachers to opt out of the BCTF, but it failed.
Clark last week announced an ambitious plan to start working on a 10-year labour pact with teachers. The plan has a slim chance of proceeding, but passage of the resolution could have wiped out even the faintest hope for success.
Clark stressed that project again Saturday, saying she's determined to sign a durable deal with the union, without giving away the store.
Liberals passed similar motions in 2006, but nothing came of them.
Also Saturday, delegates voted down a motion to ditch the carbon tax, despite complaints about its impact and the fact no other jurisdictions followed suit.
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