Appeared in the North Shore News – June 5, 2015
Christy Clark is becoming nasty, vengeful and self-pardoning in her old age.
Such a nice lady, too. On camera, anyway. Beaming smile. Can’t imagine her using the f-adjective describing the federal cabinet, as Green Party leader Elizabeth May — another big smiler, gleaming like a 1952 Cadillac grille — did at what she curiously thought was just a genial, after-work private gathering. Private? Completely surrounded by the Ottawa press corps?
But back to Da Preema. Chivalry aside — and the undersigned proudly, nay, defiantly, belongs to the last age of chivalry (before they blunted our lances) — the premier’s dark side emerged soon after her May 2013 election victory.
Local angle: As the election approached, Clark shrewdly created a new cabinet post — minister of seniors — and plucked from her back bench a bona-fide senior to fill it: Ralph Sultan, legislative member for West Vancouver-Capilano.
A bold stroke. Sultan has more academic credentials than Rachel Notley’s fresh Alberta cabinet — in front of which, I place no f-adjective. (Never mind, didn’t W.A.C. Bennett’s first
Social Credit cabinet boast only one university graduate? And look what it did.)
Sultan’s credentials would fill this page. Highlights: Harvard grad and professor. Years as chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada. Hands-on real business experience. No wonder
Gordon Campbell didn’t make him — obvious choice — finance minister. Let a man like that at the books, and you never know what mischief might follow.
Clark’s brilliant stroke was a magnet for the old people’s vote. Nor did Sultan treat the job like a sinecure for loyal service. He campaigned hard.
The rest is history. The Liberals won. Clark lost. In her own riding. So she felt around for an MLA who would take one for the team. Make way for her in a byelection. Step down from a safe seat. And none safer than Sultan’s, heartland of comfy adherents of capitalism who adore socialist benefits. (Like all of Middle Canada.)
Sultan politely declined. One can imagine the smile fading from the premier’s dainty mouth. She canned Sultan, even scrapped his ministry. Politics. Cynical.
But that was then. Clark evidently was just warming up. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Rustad tipped George Abbott for leader of the B.C. Treaty Commission six months before the job came open, on April 1. Seemed a done deal. People tend to make plans. On March 18 Rustad informed Abbott it was no go.
Abbott had been a respected Liberal minister. He’d run against Clark for party leader. This, he told columnist Vaughn Palmer, left “deep memories of real or perceived hurts.” West Van’s Sultan had supported Abbott’s leadership bid. Coincidence?
Richard Bullock was chairman of the Agricultural Land Commission — a profoundly important body. (Embarrassed confession: The undersigned stupidly railed against its creation by Dave Barrett’s New Democrats 42 years ago.) Bullock vigorously protected his turf, so to speak. Annoyed the Liberals, and shall we guess their friends? Bullock was dropped with just five months left in his mandate. Petty.
There’s more. That funny, low-ball sale of public lands just before the 2013 election, yielding the arithmetic that balanced the budget, the buyer a great and good Liberal friend. The terrible, unjustified firing of eight health ministry researchers on false accusations, for which Clark publicly if belatedly apologized.
Fair enough. Government is vast. Honest mistakes happen. Dishonest ones, too. Somehow Clark has come smilin’ through.
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Praise for smart merchandising where it’s due: Jimmy Pattison’s Overwaitea, operator of the Save-on-Foods supermarket chain, is promoting its 100th anniversary with tin containers with embossed, olde-style lettering. They’re eye-catching, and everybody loves a tin that can subsequently be used to store rubber bands, pens that don’t work any more, licences for departed family dogs, and other such treasures.
What snatched our family dollars was the tea tin, boasting 520, not the usual 500, grams of tea. Of course you know that Overwaitea’s competitive pitch and source of its name was to offer “overweight” tea. Works out to 162 tea bags, price $8.49. We are swilling this fine beverage, alternating with excellent Ceylon black tea from Nancy, the Iranian store in North Vancouver. (If we drink any more morning tea, my wife and I will be obliged to join Tea-drinkers Anonymous.)
That’s good retailing by West Vancouver’s multi-billionaire entrepreneur, who has interests all over North America — yet who made the amazing admission recently that the only business he really knows is selling cars.
Believe It Or Not! Which, if you visit Niagara Falls, you should know is one of the many pieces of the Pattison empire.
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A little late to say so, but what a great tribute to their national character is Holland’s perennial warm gratitude — like no other nation’s — for the role of Canadian armed forces in liberating their country in the Second World War.
© Trevor Lautens, 2015