May I help you with some of that baggage?

Travis writes, “When the political landscape changes, it changes fast.”

When the political landscape changes, it changes fast.

On July 27, the B.C. Liberal party was one case of a bad flu away from trying to regain power.

But in less than 24 hours, former Premier Christy Clark was gone, both as leader and as MLA.

Within five weeks the race was on to find a successor, but there was one more tectonic shift to come.

Less than two weeks later Darryl Plecas – Liberal MLA for Abbotsford South – became Speaker of the B.C. Legislature.

The B.C. NDP had secured the legislative equivalent of a flu vaccine.

The Liberals, however, may have missed seeing the gift horse in the mouth.

A race only two weeks old – without a single, official candidate – could have easily been postponed to give the party a chance to take stock and would-be candidates an opportunity to reflect on their chances.

Instead, Plecas became the target of the Liberal’s wrath.

It’s left party members with a field of six candidates where they’ll have to factor in which comes with the least carry-on baggage.

Former Vancouver mayor and Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan has baggage aplenty from his one-term at city hall, but perceived by observers as being at the back of the pack he gets to be this contest’s ideas man.

Former Advanced Education minister, Andrew Wilkinson, may be the only one of Clark’s ministers to have been publicly taken to the woodshed by auditor general Carol Bellringer for his claim that she had signed-off on the B.C. government’s $20.5 million pre-election advertising blitz.

Less well known, however, is his constituency office ad spending. Wilkinson “topped the list of all 85 MLAs in advertising expenses for 2016/17: $58,692 out of a constituency office budget of $120,482,” as Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin reported in August.

You can get a sense of the chances a candidate has by the tasks they take on. Wilkinson is the pack’s principal attack dog on possible front runner Dianne Watts.

The only one of the six without a seat in the legislature, Watts’ carry-on baggage centres around a reputation for enjoying the entitlements that come with public office: business class airfares, “office supplies” made out of quartz, and what came to be known as the Watts Mahal, Surrey’s new $150 million city hall that ended up mired in cost overruns and lawsuits.

Then there’s Mike de Jong, leadership aspirant for the second time round.

In 2010, as solicitor general Mike de Jong – who as finance minister always appeared in a well-laundered shirt and tie – claimed to have been troubled over links between organized crime and casinos in the province, stating: “If some of these early reports are true, yes, it’s troubling.”

So troubled in fact he did little about it – either as solicitor general or later as finance minister – as the Vancouver Sun’s Sam Cooper has well documented in recent weeks.

Former transportation minister Todd Stone is trying to juggle three pieces of carry-on baggage: the MV Nimpkish affair, the triple delete scandal and the fiasco at the Insurance Corporation of B.C.

To be fair to Stone, he’s not alone in responsibility for the mess at ICBC, despite the best efforts of two of his former cabinet colleagues – Wilkinson and de Jong – to try and hang it on him.

Stone may have been the skipper at the time ICBC went aground, but they were his first mates.

His day may yet come, but Stone may want to hope that it’s not next month.

Nearly forgot one candidate, Michael Lee.

Maybe that’s because he’s the only one without any baggage from the last 16 years, notwithstanding a few miscues in his campaign, such as choosing to respond to a questionnaire from anti-abortion group Right Now.

Or was it strategic messaging?

With key political strategist Mark Marissen in his corner it may not have been a miscue.

The answer to that and other B.C. Liberal leadership questions on February 3 during their pre-show to the Super Bowl pre-game.

The next election will answer the bigger question, though.

When Plecas became Speaker should the Liberals have put off till tomorrow what they chose to do today?

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca

Just Posted

Itty bitty art

VISAC Gallery is located in the basement of the Selkirk College building in downtown Trail

Free Family Day fun for Greater Trail

Public skating in Rossland and Trail are a few of the free offerings for families this weekend

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

Tell the Times

Web Poll: Do you stay in town or leave for holidays like Family Day?

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Most Read