- BC Games
Optimism hard to discount
There was little gloating, but it was hard for Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman to wipe the smile from his face, as he contrasted the BC Liberals’ fortunes last September with where the party sits now.
Coleman was speaking at his annual appreciation barbecue for friends and supporters, held at Dixie and Roy Jacobson’s farm on Sunday.
He reminded the audience that the party was 26 points behind the NDP one year ago (according to opinion polls), and even many of his supporters doubted his prediction that the BC Liberals would win the May election.
“It is a reminder to me of how important it is to believe in something,” he said. “If you never waver, people will come along with you.”
His optimism led Premier Christy Clark to name Coleman as campaign chair, and he did a masterful job, aided and abetted by Clark herself, who ran a spirited and focused campaign, and never wavered either.
Much of an election campaign in the television age is centred on leaders. Clark ran circles around NDP leader Adrian Dix, whose campaign was far from focused. At the same time, as noted here before, his mid-campaign about-face on the Kinder Morgan twinning project sent a clear message to working people that the NDP would sacrifice their jobs, if necessary, to keep environmental zealots in Vancouver happy.
That was a critical mistake and it helped many BC Liberal campaigns, including the two in Langley, and in many interior ridings.
I was speaking to a BC Liberal campaign manager in the Cariboo North seat over the weekend, and she told me that her campaign was helped immeasurably by Dix’s performance on the campaign trail. Her candidate Coralee Oakes won a seat that the NDP’s Bob Simpson won in 2009. Simpson left the party and ran as an independent, but came second to Oakes. The NDP got 21.5 per cent of the vote in that riding.
The NDP will have to sort out the mess and has now set up a committee to examine the devastating loss. There are rumblings of a grassroots revolt brewing against Dix, party president Moe Sihota and provincial secretary Jan O’Brien.
Coleman spent much of his speech outlining his job as minister of natural gas development. He has been in a series of meetings with top officials from major energy companies, and will be travelling to several Asian countries next month.
He said there are 10 companies interested in shipping liquefied natural gas to Asia, and even though no plant is under construction yet, an enormous amount of money is already being spent.
Chevron is spending $500 million in Kitimat to get ready for plant construction, even though the company had not made a final decision if it will build the plant. Shell is committing $1 billion to preparation works.
“We actually believe we can have the province debt-free with these LNG developments,” Coleman said. “I believe they are going to come here.”
No one will work harder to get them here than Coleman. After May’s election results, it’s hard to discount his optimism.