Prime Time Crime



(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Sept. 7, 2004)


Political Infighting BC Style


John Pifer


Some interesting fallout continues to land over last weeks announcement by the BC Unity Party and (parts of) the BC Conservative Party about uniting to form an option for provincial voters who are fed up with Gordon Campbell and the Liberals, but who shudder at the thought of a return to power by the New Democratic Party.


Liberals have jumped to the radio talk-show phone lines to diss the idea, saying any success for a BC conservative group would split the right-wing vote and let the dreaded socialists back into office. Meanwhile, a handful of capital-C Conservative party members and officials say Unity leader Chris Delaney jumped the gun, and that the party is being hijacked, yada, yada, yada.


The news media has given much more play to those two angles than they have to the support showing up for the concept itself  support from sitting Conservative Party of Canada Members of Parliament, and from a number of municipal mayors around the province.


This latest effort to offer an alternative to Mr. Campbell, who is the biggest political liability the Liberals have, may well go nowhere fast if the hype about splitting the vote or dissension in the ranks chases away potential candidates and supporters. British Columbians will get a better handle on all of this very quickly, as the handful of current BC Conservatives hold their convention in mid-month, and the Unity/Conservative convention is set for late September at Coquitlam.


Mr. Campbell and the Liberal damage-control team must be working overtime to put out potential fires around this issue, what with disgruntled Liberal MLAs  three of whom sit now as independents  consider their positions. One, Tony Bhullar of Surrey, has publicly mused at participating in a Conservative putsch, and surely Paul Nettleton of Prince George and Elayne Brenzinger of Surrey have to be taking a long, hard look at their future prospects.


Throw into the mix a by-election that is likely to be held in October in Surrey-Delta, and the looming provincial election just seven months later, and we have the makings of a situation that could range between a dead loss and a startling political development in a province famous for the unexpected.


It also has been interesting to see who else has emerged from the woodwork to puff themselves up into some imagined level of credibility or relevance. Case in point is the moribund BC Reform Party, no longer led by founder Ron Gamble, as stated here last week.


This corner received a lengthy, lecturing e-mail this week from one Erle Martz, vice-president of Reform. His missive alternated between trashing Mr. Delaney and Unity, to touting the strong base of support for Reform, based on one polling company that throws its name into any political poll for reasons no-one understands, and even fewer care.


Mr. Martz says Unitys numbers for its membership are bogus and overstated, that Mr. Delaney is being deceitful, carries a cartload of baggage, vis--vis gay marriage and abortion, and that Reform is the only true center-line party.


So with all this sniping, backbiting and accusations as autumn approaches, sit back and enjoy what is certain to get even more entertaining in BC politics as all of this shakes out.


Ah, BC, there is nowhere like it!



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






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