The backbench isn't far enough back for Harry Bloy. The B.C. legislature - and all of British Columbia - would be better served by his absence from provincial politics.
The MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed made scurrilous accusations against NDP leader Adrian Dix Monday, calling him a cheat and a liar, and implying Dix had proposed to his wife with a stolen engagement ring. No one is likely to take Bloy seriously, but that does not negate the ugliness of his conduct.
Bloy was the only member of the Liberal caucus to support Premier Christy Clark's leadership bid last year, and was rewarded with the social development portfolio. He proved inept in that post and was demoted last fall to minister of state for multiculturalism. He resigned from cabinet altogether in March after admitting he leaked a Vancouver Province email to a company the newspaper was writing about. It was not a crime, but a serious lapse of ethics.
Monday's outburst, completely irrelevant in a debate on regulating smart meters, is evidence Bloy has not learned from his mistakes, and it makes us wonder (with a mixture of dread and morbid curiosity) what he will do or say next.
B.C. Liberals should be assertively and vocally distancing themselves from Bloy's remarks and attitudes. Silence implies endorsement.
Although Clark has said Bloy's remarks were "totally inappropriate" and that he has apologized, she should clearly show her disapproval by booting him from caucus and from the party.
Withdrawing remarks and issuing a perfunctory apology works when there's a slip of the tongue or a momentary lapse in judgment, but Bloy's vitriolic flow calls for stronger measures.
What's the worst thing that could happen? Bloy crossing the floor and joining newly minted Conservative MLA John van Dongen? In the Liberals' dreams!
Before his elevation to cabinet, Bloy was known as the MLA who occasionally wore his Boy Scout uniform in the legislature. He should perhaps brush up on the Scout Law: "A Scout is helpful and trustworthy, kind and cheerful, considerate and clean, and wise in the use of all resources." We shudder to think of the example he sets for youth.
Jibes and jabs have long been part of parliamentary debate, but usually within certain limits of civility and propriety.
Those limits are often pushed as politicians put scoring points against their opponents ahead of trying to advance the discussion, but Bloy's misbehaviour goes beyond the limits and well into the political Twilight Zone. His remarks, while insulting to Dix, will cause not one whit of harm to the NDP, but have the potential of inflicting considerable damage to the Liberals.
Bloy was elected to represent the interests of his constituents and to help govern the province. His boorish outbursts do neither. He betrays the trust placed in him when he was elected.
He has said he will not run in the May 2013 election, probably an unnecessary declaration at this point - what thinking, rational party leader would approve his nomination?
The sooner he is out of the legislature, the better.
© Copyright 2013