Exactly 2,300 days since she was sworn-in, Christy Clark is now the ex-Premier of British Columbia.
She was first female to lead a B.C. party to election victory in 2013 and the first female to be forced out of office in B.C. in a no-confidence vote, just over four years later. In the end, the strong campaigner and weak governor was denied her wish to run just one more campaign.
It happened on the 5,869th day of BC Liberal rule.
Clark arrived at Government House at 5:53 p.m. on June 29, after the BC Liberal government lost the throne speech confidence vote 44-42 at 5:26 p.m.
She emerged at 7:23 p.m. and took no questions from the reporters outside Government House. She said very little, except that Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon had “retired to make her decision.”
Clark arrived on her own, after leaving the Legislature through a gauntlet of clapping and cheering well-wishers. Those included Sebastien Togneri, an aide to Deputy Premier Rich Coleman and disgraced former federal Conservative aide who was caught interfering with access to information documents sought by reporters. Also among the well-wishers was caucus communications head Nick Koolsbergen, a former issues management director for ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Dyed-in-the-wool federal Liberal Clark’s experiment to recruit federal Conservatives for key backroom positions was a flop in the end. More so after she took a sharp turn to the left on June 22.
Clark is known for being fast and loose with the facts and that happened right after her meeting at Government House. Guichon did not actually “retire,” as Clark claimed. Instead Clark resigned and Guichon called NDP leader John Horgan and asked him to form the Green-supported NDP minority government.
Clark later told reporters that she had asked Guichon to dissolve the Legislature and call a snap election, something that Clark had previously said she wouldn’t ask.
This, after a bizarre week of twists and turns in the B.C. Legislature that included the Liberal throne speech that plagiarized heavily from the NDP and Green platforms that Clark had opposed on the way to May 9.
Horgan and Weaver insist they can make their minority government work the full four years. That, of course, remains to be seen. They will need to look inside government files — those that have not already been deleted or destroyed by BC Liberals desperate to cover their tracks — and come up with a budget by September. They also face a busy summer of hiring and firing key executive and board positions.
Brad Bennett and Jessica McDonald’s days as BC Hydro chair and CEO are numbered, for example. Same for Athana Mentzelopoulos, the deputy finance minister and longtime Clark confidante. The board of B.C. Pavilion Corporation added adman Jatinder Rai and Clark’s former deputy minister John Dyble last year. They will no doubt be subtracted. It would be a shocker if the NDP kept Doug Eastwood, a civil litigation lawyer in the attorney general’s ministry, around. Eastwood co-chaired Clark’s 2011 leadership campaign with Patrick Kinsella and remained heavily involved in the party afterward.
There will be a natural tendency for the NDP to reward their loyalists for key positions, but Horgan will be under scrutiny to base most hirings on merit. Otherwise, it will be easy fodder for not only journalists, but a BC Liberal opposition that will pull no punches in Question Period.
The wheels are already in motion to replace Clark as leader. Expect a BC Liberal leadership convention before the next election.
Stay tuned for more developments in theBreaker.