Nixon: B.C. Liberals without soul

North Shore News

By Bill Bell

Being the leader of a centre-right coalition party in British Columbia is akin to herding cats, and the best cat herder of them all surely had to have been former Social Credit premier W.A.C. Bennett.

More recently, Premier Gordon Campbell appeared to be on course, surpassing Bennett’s record of keeping the “socialist hordes” from the reins of power in Victoria with three straight majority government victories under the political name “Liberals.”

The B.C. Liberals of course are anything but liberals. Still if you are a free enterprise person with small “L” political beliefs, Campbell’s team was far better to support than the “union controlled,” “anti-business” NDP, even if it meant holding your nose at the polls. Campbell has been masterful at this game of leading the coalition until the recent downturn of the economy which has forced him to show his true conservative colours.

For the first time since taking over the Liberal Party from Gordon Wilson in the ’90s, cracks are starting to show in the coalition. Perhaps it was the announcement of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), but more likely it is has to do with the budgeting priorities of a government that is operating under severe financial stress. It now appears the government was completely unprepared and more importantly unwilling to recognize the impact of the worldwide economic downturn. Now faced with a massive budget deficit, budget decisions are being made that are placing a severe strain on Gordon Campbell’s coalition.

Many Liberal supporters are starting to show their disappointment and District of North Vancouver Coun. Alan Nixon has come forward with a long list of why his support for Campbell has waned over the past few months. Nixon has been a longtime Liberal supporter, starting in the ’60s.

“My association with the Liberal Party of Canada goes back to 1968 and Trudeaumania. As a teenager I helped with the campaign of Jack Davis and saw him elected as a Trudeau MP,” Nixon said.

In 1989, after moving to Coquitlam, Nixon gradually became more and more involved in the provincial political scene, ultimately becoming the vice-president of the B.C. Liberal Coquitlam Constituency Association. “Lo and behold, a rather unlikely character by the name of Gordon Wilson became the leader of this ragtag group of Liberals who had tired of the ever more right-leaning Social Credit party and its self-destructive tendencies of the (Bill) Vander Zalm era,” Nixon said.

According to Nixon, the provincial Liberals are becoming more conservative.

“I have watched this B.C. Liberal Government since its majority win in 2001 become more and more conservative in its thinking and in its actions. I have seen it turn its back on the most vulnerable in our society by constantly playing to its natural constituencies of large and medium-sized business. I have seen it tinker ineffectively with the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority (TransLink); I have seen it impose large-scale “transit” solutions such as the Canada Line and the Gateway Project on the Metro region without one whit of meaningful consultation or dialogue, and then, having saddled TransLink with the responsibility to operate these grandiose schemes, deny it the means by which to fund itself for the present and future. I have seen it reinforce the existence of these huge, monolithic health regions that have become the antithesis of efficient, cost-effective organizations.

Nixon doesn’t stop there and his list of what he believes to be betrayals is long and is growing on a daily basis. The HST, cuts to library grants, and the fact that Campbell has failed to recognize North Vancouver Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan with a cabinet post all have Nixon steaming mad.

“I have watched the premier appoint an admittedly well-qualified rookie MLA to a sub-cabinet post and refuse to appoint Ralph Sultan, an eight-year veteran MLA, to a cabinet post because I suspect he doesn’t take too kindly to getting advice from one of the most intelligent members of his caucus,” Nixon said.

Nixon sums up his frustration with some very strong language that should give Campbell concern. “In a nutshell, this is a party that has lost its soul and cynically initiates all of these draconian measures in the first few months of its new four-year mandate. All this in the hope that we, the “stupid,” will have forgotten all about it in May 2013. I, for one, am not prepared to let that happen.”

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