A po­lit­i­cal tale of two cities

24 Hours Vancouver - - NEWS - BILL TIELEMAN

“It was the spring of hope, it was the win­ter of de­spair.”

— Charles Dick­ens, A

Tale of Two Cities

VIC­TO­RIA — This week­end saw a po­lit­i­cal tale of two cities: B.C. New Democrats cel­e­brat­ing their gov­ern­ment at a con­ven­tion in Vic­to­ria while B.C. Lib­eral lead­er­ship can­di­dates shred­ded each other at a Prince Ge­orge de­bate.

The meet­ings couldn’t have been more dif­fer­ent. Pre­mier John Hor­gan ar­rived to a hero’s wel­come from 770 NDP del­e­gates who were elated af­ter 16 years of be­ing out of of­fice.

The big­gest con­tro­versy? Whether to hold con­ven­tions an­nu­ally or ev­ery two years.

But up north it was like the Star Wars’ cantina scene — lethal weapons, un­paid po­lit­i­cal debts to col­lect and bad blood on the floor.

Dianne Watts, the exCon­ser­va­tive MP and Sur­rey Mayor, came out with guns blaz­ing at ex-B.C. Lib­eral cabi­net min­is­ters, say­ing they failed the party by agree­ing when then-Pre­mier Christy Clark – des­per­ate to hold power – in­tro­duced a June throne speech copied from the NDP elec­tion plat­form.

Vet­eran An­drew Wilkin­son said he was shocked – not men­tion­ing he voted for the throne speech any­way.

“It was a rude sur­prise to us to find that we had adopted a lot of ideas from the NDP and the Greens. It be­came quickly known as the clone speech,” Wilkin­son weakly de­fended. “I do not think we should have gone down that path.”

No kid­ding! And Watts wasn’t done roast­ing the B.C. Lib­er­als, a party she joined af­ter the May elec­tion.

Watts said Clark’s gov­ern­ment failed the north af­ter not fund­ing a new hos­pi­tal in Ter­race and a Prince Ge­orge sur­gi­cal tower.

“If it’s this im­por­tant … it should have been in the last plat­form,” Watts com­plained.

But new MLA and can­di­date Michael Lee re­turned fire, ques­tion­ing Watts’ fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity over Sur­rey’s new City Hall project. It was bud­geted at $97 mil­lion, but ended up cost­ing $138 mil­lion.

And the shots con­tin­ued on Sur­rey’s ris­ing crime rate un­der Watts and Wilkin­son at­tack­ing can­di­date Mike de Jong for promis­ing to re­lo­cate the forests min­istry to Prince Ge­orge when he could have done it 12 years ago as min­is­ter.

So Hor­gan’s NDP have a spring in their step, hop­ing it lasts four years, while B.C. Lib­er­als must de­spair at a po­ten­tially long and clearly di­vi­sive win­ter in op­po­si­tion.

Twit­ter: @Bil­lTiele­man

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