Politicians don’t make history, history makes politicians.
And the evacuation of Williams Lake ensured that when John Horgan was sworn in as BC’s new Premier and punching bag he wouldn’t be leaving office in the near future. The Cariboo’s nightmare also torched whatever was left of Christy Clark’s career as Liberal leader.
Horgan took office while the province was in a state of emergency and here’s what does not happen during a state of emergency – no one topples a government to force an election.
If Clark had delivered her throne speech last week, not only wouldn’t the Greens have been able to vote against her, the NDP wouldn’t have dared to call a confidence vote. How do you force voters to go to the polls when a half dozen ridings have been evacuated?
It wouldn’t just look foolish, but ghoulish.
And when the smoke finally clears it will be Premier Horgan flying out to the devastated region – possibly accompanied by the province’s treehugger—in-chief, Andrew Weaver, to promise and delivering disaster relief. It’s Horgan who will look like very much like BC’s Premier and not the interloper — or the over-matched temp – that Clark was planning to paint him as. Meanwhile, Weaver’s warnings about climate change are likely to reach an all-new audience.
Here’s something else that does not happen during a state of emergency. Governments aren’t expected to focus on election promises. Horgan’s top priority now is to focus on the crisis and, in this case, literally put out fires. The longer these fires burn, the less anyone is going to expect him to focus on niche issues, nevermind balance the budget.
Keep in mind – and try not to have nightmares about this – but forest fire season in BC is NEXT MONTH.
Clark is a brilliant fighter, but the fire made it tough for her to fight without looking like she doesn’t care about the people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin – where her party currently hold all the seats. People who are still camped out across BC.
Clark was talking cooperation – until she asked the Lieutenant Governor to call an election – and now she actually had to cooperate. And a cooperative Clark isn’t a campaigning Clark.
Clark obviously thought her best chance to stay in the Premier’s office was to push for a snap election. I suspect that’s in part because when new governments get access to all the files they tend to find plenty of dirt on the old government and in part because there are plenty of people who’d like the job of leading the party who’s only true mandate is “keep the socialists from the gates.”
With no chance of an election in the near future it’s a lot easier for potential Libcred leaders to test the waters and push for a leadership vote. The Falcons were circling.