By Alistair Waters
When B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced she planned to run for the Westside-Kelowna seat in the B.C. Legislature, she said she looked forward to being here a great deal during the byelection campaign, getting out, knocking on doors and meeting the voters.
But so far, it seems she has left the door-knocking to others in favour of photo opportunities and meetings and has treated the byelection campaign as more of a weekend project. She has been here the last two weekends – including opening her campaign office on June 22 – and in between has been elsewhere doing what premiers do.
If her personal focus is winning the Westside-Kelowna seat by connecting with voters, it sure doesn’t show. While Westside-Kelowna is considered a “safe” seat for the Liberals given the ease with which the man who stepped aside for Clark, former MLA Ben Stewart, won the riding in the last two B.C. general elections, there may be a sense of complacency in the Clark camp.
Or maybe it’s just smart strategy for the party to use Stewart – who took 58 per cent of the vote in the May 14 general election – to act as the voice of the campaign given it’s clear Clark is a parachute candidate looking for a safe place to land.
But it does leave Clark open to criticism about her commitment to the riding.
A recorded telephone solicitation currently being used to drum up support for Clark features only Stewart’s voice asking voters to support the premier in her byelection bid. Clark’s name is mentioned but she is not heard asking voters to support her.
Her weekend stops in the riding since she called the byelection have been filled with meetings, business tours and events that don’t drop her on the door steps she said she looked forward to standing on.
A blast from the past also campaigning for Clark is former controversial Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal-turned Progressive Alliance MLA Judi Tyabji.
As a provincial premier, Clark has a job to do that obviously stops her from spending the entire 28 days of the campaign here.
But, in the first few weeks, it appears that without a camera around, Clark is happy to have others get her elected.
Alistair Waters is assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News, a Black Press newspaper.