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LOEWEN: Does Christy Clark need an intervention?

September 03, 2014 - 7:21 AM

Christy Clark is a high-stakes gambler. It’s breath-taking to witness. It’s time for an intervention, folks. And, frankly, we’d better get on board this interventionist’s couch with Ms. Clark before she ruins her own life along with the future prospects of the families of British Columbia whom she is mandated to serve.

Christy Clark’s gamble is fairly simple to articulate. As the Minister of Education under then-provincial premier Gordon Campbell, Ms. Clark set in motion the actions that would turn school districts into hapless paupers trying to meet their mandate of providing B.C. families with quality public education for their children by gutting their budgets.

She soon thereafter left the political spotlight for a spell as a private radio shock jock and distinguished herself there with her public-sector red-baiting. But then Ms. Clark chose to return to the political arena to eventually take the reins of a counter-intuitively resurgent majority BC Liberal government. It was a jaw-dropping, staggering election achievement, and a lesson to the rest of us that continues to be studied to the present day.

Christy Clark’s “Families First” political campaign motto obviously appealed to a slim majority of the electorate, along with her soccer mom appeal and her telegenic smile. It would seem that such superficial qualities go a long way in this province to pave the way for elements anathema to the overall well-being of a province blessed with obvious human and natural resources, a province founded upon parliamentary democratic principles and a palette of shared Canadian-values.

Now, in certain parts of the province, it’s tough to be counted as a social democrat -- especially in the bucolic and verdant valley called the Okanagan. The Okanagan also happens to be the place where Ms. Clark chose to seek her seat in Victoria after being summarily rejected in her own Vancouver-based riding.

On the surface, the Okanagan looks like a well-heeled, prosperous place with folks happily going about their business of “living the Okanagan lifestyle.” It’s also the spiritual Mecca of Social Credit in this province, and it brought along with it political luminaries like W.A.C. Bennett, Bill Bennett and, for a time, fellow-travelers on the federal scene like Stockwell Day. There must be something in the gentle waters here.

Beneath the glitzy commercial surface of this place, there are regular working folks and their families trying to stay alive, folks attempting to provide their families with a wondrous appreciation for this great province and to instill into their children a sense of inclusion and civic responsibility.

But it’s an expensive province and valley in which to raise a family. Which is why Ms. Clark’s erstwhile campaign motto of “Families First” is utterly disingenuous and a contemptible example of her government’s bafflegab and moral bankruptcy. Part of the provincial government’s mandate is to provide a quality public education to all -- it’s a value that, until recently, I believed was shared by Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

But Christy Clark and her team of B.C. Liberals do not share this value. After being reprimanded not once but twice, and fined for their bad-faith guile, by the B.C. Supreme Court, Christy Clark and her cadre seem hell-bent upon breaking the union of BC Teachers. They are asking them, in fact, to give the government a pass on the ruling of the Court which would restore the right to bargain for conditions that will ultimately enhance the education experience of all students attending our public schools.

Now, I don’t know about you; but I am personally grateful that our courts can hold our elected governments to account. The existence of these courts should give some relief that governments with odious aims cannot simply trump the will of the electorate and its palette of shared democratic values.

But this is precisely the high-stakes gamble that Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are willing to wager. And like any reformed inveterate gambler will sheepishly admit when they look back on the havoc caused by their selfish ways, they were delusional and quixotic in their actions; and they will humbly ask for the forgiveness of those whom they wronged, and make attempts to, in good faith, set things right.

This is Christy Clark’s darkest hour, politically and personally. My advice to Ms. Clark is this: Own up to the B.C. Supreme Court rulings, ask the electorate for forgiveness for playing the high-stakes poker game, and sit down with the teachers’ federation. Of course, it’s probably too late now.

There’s a welcome couch for Christy Clark here in the Okanagan, however, or in the many other anterooms of British Columbia. We need to invite her to settle upon it for awhile and listen to how her game-playing and her government’s gerrymandering affect every one of us. If she is unwilling to take a seat on this couch, perhaps it’s time we un-seat our premier in our house of legislative assembly in Victoria.

—  Having lost his 2,500 volume library in the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, Jeffrey is beginning to fill the void by writing his own. Reach him at jeff.loewen(at)

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