Iain Hunter: Clark’s reign raises a host of questions

If the legislative precinct makes her sick, as she has said it does, why is Christy Clark so keen, apparently, to stay there as premier? Is there such a thing as political bulimia?

I say “apparently,” because it’s not certain as I write this that she’ll stick around for the May 14 election. It would be nice if she did, though: It would give B.C. voters their first chance to say what they think of her since she was picked out of a Liberal hat to govern us on Feb. 26, 2011.

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Bloggers have been nasty about her. Pundits have written her off: The University of Victoria’s Norman Ruff has said her election hopes have been dashed by successive scandals that have been rolling over her Fukushima-like.

He says that she has inherited the B.C. Liberal brand of “distrust and politically unethical behaviour” as if she’s been flaunting it.

How much more of this Ruff stuff can Clark take?

Quite a lot, it seems. And shouldn’t we admire her at least for this? For what has happened to our appointed premier — and probably that alliance of the supercilious centre-right that she’s trying to hold together — isn’t all her fault.

A lot of it has to do with her sex. Political leadership makes hard demands of women. Trying to be more like men throws away the only advantage they have. Floppy grey pant suits don’t suit.

Clark is unabashedly a lady. It’s not her fault that so many equate this with frivolity or shallowness, including those of her sisterhood.

She told Frances Bula of Vancouver Magazine last spring that she returned to politics determined to be her own person. But, as so many have pointed out, she became leader with hardly any caucus support.

It took time to gain that support. It’s taking even less time for her to lose it.

Posing as an “outsider” from the radio world, it was hard for her to rally the troops while disparaging the general who had led them for a decade.

“I want you to be my partners in change in Victoria,” she told party members who had made her premier. “I want you to be my partners in bringing open government.”

Some change. Some openness.

She has done nothing to change the distrust of the government she inherited. She has refused to find the answers to the questions she once asked as a radio host about the B.C. Rail scandal.

She has done nothing to divert the suspicion that politically unethical behaviour is not only condoned, but encouraged by those who sit around the cabinet table.

Clark says she never saw the crass plan to exploit ethnic communities for “quick” political gain. She says she “never directed it.”

Does anyone really believe that finding ways to capture ethnic votes in the coming election wasn’t discussed in cabinet? Does anyone believe that orders weren’t passed down the line to find a way?

And is anyone satisfied that the premier orders an investigation that can’t pass through the caucus door where leaked documents suggest staff were involved? Not Gordon Hogg, the caucus chairman, thankfully.

How much worse than back-dating a document is it to have government officials order the rewriting of a letter to remove any suggestion that ministers of the Crown leaned on a supposedly independent public money trust to make a loan to a Liberal party insider?

What do Clark’s “partners in change” think about being partners in all this skulduggery?

How open do they think a government is that boasts that “no records exist” and whose orders are communicated by devices with an automatic delete button?

This is what happens when premiers and prime ministers are chosen by political parties instead of the electorate. It’s what happened when delegates chose a leader, not for leadership abilities, but because they thought a woman had the best chance of keeping their party in power.

Fixed election dates were never meant to give unelected premiers free reign for two years.

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