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(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Mar. 8, 2004)


Liberal MLA’s defection Cross-checks Campbell


By John Pifer


The latest defector from the Gordon Campbell Liberal caucus is mad as hell at Todd Bertuzzi, too.


But unheralded and little-known backbench Liberal MLA Elayne Brenzinger of Surrey is ticked off at the Vancouver Canucks’ power forward for reasons other than his cheap sucker punch from behind on a Colorado player in Monday’s hockey game.


Our Elayne must be livid at being only a one-day media wonder, blown off the front page by the never-ending furore surrounding the suspended hockey star.


After all, the day before Todd-o went whacko, she had cross-checked the Premier into the boards via a news release announcing that she was leaving the caucus to sit as an independent MLA because she had had enough of Da Preem’s control-freak methods. Her blistering comments about Mr. Campbell’s style of leadership included this succinct gem: “(He) has shown a complete and utter disregard for the opinions of caucus and its elected members, instead pressing ahead with his own secretive mandate,” she stated.


Ms. Brenzinger’s follow-up sucker punch to Our Gordo described his administrative style as “chaotic, haphazard and destructive to British Columbia. I cannot continue to participate in this disassembling of B.C.”


No sooner had the Surrey Liberal dropped the gloves and come out swinging against Mr. Campbell than she became the target of attack from her former teammates, who described her as a “high maintenance” and ineffective MLA, who felt she was not getting her fair share of media exposure. And Liberal party whip Kevin Krueger revealed that Ms. Brenzinger had been suspended from caucus for a physical confrontation involving an aide.


Not surprisingly, all Campbell haters emerged to support everything Ms. B said, and added a few epithets of their own, in desperate hope to reap some political benefit from her defection. NDP leader Carole James, who feels she never gets her fair share of media coverage either, rushed to the nearest microphone to congratulate her sister in solidarity, and probably wishing that she had come up with the pithy “chaotic, haphazard and destructive” line.


The Rodney Dangerfield of B.C. politics, who just can’t get no respect, Chris Delaney of the B.C. Unity Party, praised Our Elayne for being courageous, and as someone who was “not prepared to forfeit her integrity as (an) elected representative of the people. Our Chris would love to see two or three other disgruntled Liberals join Ms. Brenzinger and fellow dissident Paul Nettleton to form an official Opposition party called, oh, say … Unity!?


It only does take four, and it is easy to believe that there are a couple of other far-from-gruntled Liberals who have been sitting on the bench since the 2001 election who might just explore the possibility. Finding others who think the policy wonk Premier is a micro-managing dictator who makes Jean Chrétien look magnanimous, should not be too hard to do.


That certainly would defuse the two-member NDP presence in the Legislature even more; and it could end up as a story that returns to the headlines long after Mr. Bertuzzi has been punished, forgiven and returned to the ice.


Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at







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