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(Published in the Abbotsford News week of May 16, 2005)

Election winners and losers

John Pifer

Tuesday’s provincial election was a mixed bag of winners and losers – often with more than one person wearing both those labels.

Gordon Campbell was a moderate loser, despite being a winner as the first Premier since Bill Bennett in 1983 to gain re-election. The Liberals knew they would be losing about 20 to 25 seats after the decimation of the New Democratic Party to just two seats in 2001. But to lose 30 seats and half-a-dozen Cabinet ministers, and narrowly to squeak out from losing more, should be the blow that makes this Mr. Campbell’s last election.

I cannot imagine him still being at the helm come the 2009 vote, less than a year before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler/Vancouver. By that date, he will have been Liberal leader for 16 years, and will be far past his due date. British Columbians will not accept him again, period; and you may rest assured that the party movers and shakers know that, and will take steps to have a fresh face (and a much more television-friendly one) leading the party into that contest.

It may be a bit early to handicap the leading contenders, but here goes: Carole Taylor, Colin Hansen and Rich Coleman will all be high profile in the new Cabinet and ripe to lead, with charismatic former Cabinet member Christy Clark being an “outsider” who takes the prize, a la Brian Mulroney or Bill Vander Zalm.

As for Carole James, the NDP leader was a big winner on the night, whilst also being a bit of a loser, because of whom some of her caucus colleagues will be – the old guard from the Glen Clark era. Seeing the likes of nice guys Mike Farnworth and Corky Evans back in the BC Legislature is welcome; having the likes of Harry Lali, Leonard Krog and Sue Hammel return is not. Throw in the old-guard union-driven leftists such as David Chudnovsky, Adrian Dix and Bruce Ralston, and Ms. James biggest Victoria fights may well be within her own ranks.

Another winner/loser was Adriane Carr, the Green Party leader, who again failed to win a seat in Victoria, placing third on the left-leaning hippie enclave known as the Sunshine Coast. The fact that the Greens ran candidates in each of the 79 ridings was an historic, first-ever achievement; and Ms. Carr more than acquitted herself in the campaign and the tv debate, and in retaining nine or 10% of the province-wide vote. She may well have lost in the riding because her higher provincial profile kept her away from the area throughout the campaign.

Some other quick thoughts from the night:

*       BC is a poorer place, politically, with the losses suffered by longtime MLAs and Liberal Cabinet ministers Graham Bruce and Stan Hagen on the Island. In fact, anyone who voted Liberal may need a passport in the future to ride BC Ferries to the NDP-dominated Island!
*       Talk about winners – one has to marvel at how Kamloops voters do it – once again electing MLAs from the overall winning party, veteran Liberals Claude Richmond and Kevin Krueger. This truly is the province’s key bellwether riding.
*       At time of writing, the final numbers were not yet tallied on the STV (single transferable vote), but it appeared unlikely to pass. Some version of parliamentary reform will surely continue to be pursued.

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


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