Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is the Liberal campaign about to go off the rails?

In politics timing is everything, and for Gordon Campbell and his merry band of Liberals seeking elected office in this May’s election the timing on any number of fronts is starting to stink.

There’s the economy which continues to decline in British Columbia, caught up in the onslaught of the current world wide financial travails, not entirely the fault of the provincial government, but something that the opposition could make some hay over. After all this is the government that in the past has made much of its financial prudence, taking credit for the years of growth, so it’s not unexpected that they will take some blame for the downward direction.

Mr. Campbell has watched more than a few cabinet ministers decide to move on in their lives over the last few years, none more telling that the departure of his finance minister Carole Taylor. Mrs. Taylor had the good fortune of timing her exit to stage right just before the financial forecasts turned direction and painted a less financially prosperous future.
She was never really given a lot of credit during her time in the Campbell cabinet, however by leaving when she did she will forever be identified as the guardian of the financial purse during the expansive growth era, with his frequent micro management of all departments, the Premier now must wear the declining fortunes as his own, last one on the bridge and all of that.

The frequent revelations over at BC Ferries also will reflect on the Liberal government, which through its quasi privatization plans seems to have inherited all of the bad news as its own, showing a lack of responsibility and accountability over a vital transportation link. Every sailing now seems to be a reminder that with its hands off policy of late, the government has provided the Ferry corporation with the green light to do as it wishes with the service, a move that sometimes seems to be less inclined towards the direction of service and more towards those of a fiscal direction.
Every time an issue bobs up on those waters whether it be safety, matters of the Board of Directors or just changes to routes with proper consultation, it seems to float back towards the government, hands off or not.

We’ll give the government a mulligan on the Olympics, hell even the fiercest critic of the Liberals has to admit that the Olympics always seem to take on a life of their own when it comes to spending money. The Libs if things get too hot can even fall back on that traditional defence that they inherited the thing from the NDP, as it was Glen Clark who first got the Olympic circus ball rolling back in the day, a one time only special that may help to deflect any pain on election day.
There may be a payoff come February of 2010 in the spirit of collective good times and one or two gold medals, but the Olympics come well after the election this year, the costs, the inconveniences and such they happen now, something that voters tend to think of first not of the party to come.

But heading into that May election, the Liberals may soon find that it will be the hue and cry over a long done deal over the railways which could provide for more than enough scandal to derail their re-election plans.

The sale of BC Rail is once again back on the headlines and making for the best of television news coverage, what with that repetitive file video of police officers entering the legislature some five years ago.

Just in time for the May vote comes revelation after revelation of some of the concerns over that much trumpeted sale of BC Rail to CN Rail, a move that the Liberal’s hailed as a great day for the province.

Since those smiling photo ops, the rather unseemly nature of corporate machinations has taken the spotlight, questions of conflict of interests have dogged the Premier’s office with much discussion over the work of Patrick Kinsella, a former aide to the Premier and currently the key ingredient in the ongoing trial .

The Globe and Mail today has offered up the suggestion that the time for the Premier to break his vow of silence on the issue is at hand, regardless of the current "before the court" status of the trial.
For the Premier, continuing to appear to be ducking behind the facade of it's before the courts isn't insulating him very much anymore, if anything it is beginning to raise far more questions than it provides for answers.

The opposition and the media are beginning to see some blood in that political water, it will be well worth watching to see if it continues to flow right up until Election Day and if the issue becomes a key part of the upcoming campaign.
As the revelations continue you have to wonder if perhaps the saga of BC Rail, heralded as a turning point for the BC economy, may yet prove to be the derailing of the Campbell era.

Vancouver Province-- B.C. Rail paid Liberal insider

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