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Les Leyne: Liberal comeback slips off course

Somewhere at B.C. Liberal party headquarters there’s a recovery plan that charts a 15-point comeback in the polls en route to a victory in the May election. You have to wonder if the master plan makes room for the kind of week that just ended.

Somewhere at B.C. Liberal party headquarters there’s a recovery plan that charts a 15-point comeback in the polls en route to a victory in the May election.

You have to wonder if the master plan makes room for the kind of week that just ended.

Monday — Boundary-Similkameen Liberal MLA John Slater brought a troubled, confused story to an end with news he won’t run again, either as an independent or a Liberal.

The party had earlier referenced personal problems in the rocky relationship that had developed.

So Slater bowed out with a blast at “smear and fear-based politics,” and the “brutal” experience that prompted him to say “enough.”

The only plus for the Liberals in this is that, oddly enough, the NDP candidate dropped out the same day.

Tuesday — NDP leader Adrian Dix unveiled a plan that would ban the kind of self-promoting saturation ad campaign that the Liberal government has been running for months at taxpayer expense.

It’s a good idea in itself. And the plan keeps some focus on the outlandish cost and prevalence of the campaign.

Also Tuesday, Surrey’s rejection of a casino favoured by the minister responsible for gambling, Rich Coleman, prompted intriguing fallout.

Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg publicly rapped his colleague for intervening during the public hearings and complaining about the decision. “Surprised and disappointed,” he told the Peace Arch News. He’s not the only person surprised. Coleman is a powerhouse in Premier Christy Clark’s government and not one whom colleagues would take on lightly.

There was a time when the Liberals hung together.

Clark also announced an $11-million commitment to an Indian media conglomerate that will stage a televised Bollywood awards ceremony in Vancouver this spring. The idea is to promote B.C. as a destination to the Indian middle class.

Based on government numbers, the show will have to pull 7,000 Indian tourists for this to pay off.

Wednesday — Trouble broke out in another Liberal-held riding. The fracturing of friendships and long-term relationships became obvious in Abbotsford. Longtime Liberal supporter Moe Gill, whose plans to run were quashed when the party hand-picked criminologist Darryl Plecas, announced he’ll run independently.

He’ll go up against cabinet minister Mike de Jong — his distinctly “former” friend — in Abbotsford South. He made the announcement citing the “great disrespect” with which he was treated by the party.

It’s the team-building that gets you.

Meanwhile, the Liberals formally abandoned the clumsy campaign to oust auditor general John Doyle, offering him a two-year extension. It was greeted with ominous silence.

Thursday — Doyle slept on the offer, then responded. He not only rejected it, he eviscerated the Liberals who made it. He said the re-appointment process is “Mickey Mouse.” He said the Liberal MLAs in charge of it don’t know what they’re doing. And he said the MLA in charge — Eric Foster — should be removed because of unspecified remarks he made during an interview that suggested bias. He suggested the next government should make the decision, and he plans to take his own sweet time examining his options.

One thing that’s become clear over the years is that when governments take on independent special officers of the legislature, it doesn’t usually end well.

Clark’s ambitious plan for a 10-year deal with teachers was also floated Thursday. The teachers’ union dismissed it completely, as expected. Demonstrating how obstinate the B.C. Teachers Federation is might have been part of the roll-out plan. But it was odd to see an idea that has some merit driven right into a wall that everyone could see was there.

Friday — A quiet day. Not much to do but ponder an outfit in which a departing MLA decries his own team’s smears, another MLA raps a cabinet minister for meddling, a key organizer turns independent to run against his former friend and the premier finds $11 million to throw a party for an industry based 11,000 kilometres away.

It wasn’t all bad news. They’ve found a way to stop the new Port Mann bridge from dropping ice bombs on toll-paying drivers. And they found $113 million to move Emily Carr University off Granville Island.

But with under three months until campaign kickoff, it wasn’t a week in which the Liberals used the word “momentum.”