Presence of Gwyn Morgan and Patrick Kinsella on Christy Clark’s campaign team signaled the right wing business coalition would remain influential if BC Liberals rejected their first choice. Now, with Kevin Falcon installed as Deputy Premier and Finance Minister, the already sanctioned replacement is ready to take over if (when?) Clark gets run over by a freight train. Even without more BC Rail heat, kinetic friction will throw sparks when Christy’s federal Liberal pals jostle for places at the public trough. Given her past failures, there is little reason to believe that Clark can successfully manage the conflicting interests facing her.
People who imagined that Liberal Christy Clark was also liberal Christy Clark got no sign of it from the selection of her executive council. In addition to the very plugged in Finance Minister, ersatz capitalists have the grandiloquent Rich Coleman, a Falcon leadership backer, taking over at Energy and Mines, a ministry with capacity to deal out huge rewards with little scrutiny.
Shifting Mary Polak to Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation merely demonstrates small regard for that portfolio. Polak has shown no skills at reconciliation throughout her political career. She prefers to be at the centre of confrontation and disruption and learns nothing from being proven wrong. Her dealings with Ms. Turpel-Lafond demonstrate she should be sitting in the back row, beside Colin Hansen.
Appointment of Mary McNeil as Children and Family Development Minister indicates hollowness of Clark’s promise to put families first. McNeil, first elected in 2009, is a political neophyte whose time in the Legislative Chamber is almost non-existent. Her fundraising background with the BC Cancer Foundation qualified her for schmoozing VIPs during the Olympics but not for the gut wrenching difficulties of her new ministry. Her predecessor was so weak that McNeil might be an improvement but that is faint praise.
I like the move to re-consolidate Advanced Education but Naomi Yamamoto is little prepared. She too was first elected in 2009 so has almost no legislative experience. Before that she worked in a small graphic design business and served with the North Van Chamber of Commerce. She did spend six years on the board of Capilano College so has some understanding of her ministry’s issues.
One name that disappeared from the list of Deputy Ministers was that of Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s former minder who was parked at Tourism. We are left to wonder if he has gone on medical leave, a possibility because he suffered severe memory loss in the past year, one that will continue at least until there is no longer any chance of a BC Rail inquiry.
It remains to be seen if Clark and her handlers will maintain a tight grip on power or allow ministries to manage with minimal interference and if MLAs will be allowed any roles beyond delivering government talking points. Given past experiences, the likelihood of significant change is low but Ms. Clark might surprise us all.