‘I am done with pub­lic life’ says for­mer B.C. premier Christy Clark

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

For­mer Bri­tish Columbia premier Christy Clark says a dis­ap­point­ing fin­ish on elec­tion night had her feel­ing like she should leave pol­i­tics, but her head didn’t catch up with her heart un­til shortly be­fore she told her cau­cus of her de­ci­sion.

Clark, 51, looked re­laxed and re­lieved as she gave her last news con­fer­ence Mon­day with her teenage son Hamish at her side, call­ing her 6-1/2 years as premier “an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney.’’ She an­nounced Fri­day that she would be re­sign­ing as leader of the Lib­eral party.

“I took a long walk along the lakeshore on Fri­day morn­ing and I knew it was time to leave,’’ she said of the de­ci­sion that had been per­co­lat­ing since the May 9 elec­tion, when the Lib­eral party fin­ished one seat shy of a ma­jor­ity.

“I didn’t want to leave in the midst of chaos so I stuck around,’’ Clark said, ad­ding thoughts about re­sign­ing grew last month when Lt.-Gov. Ju­dith Gui­chon asked NDP Leader John Hor­gan to gov­ern.

Clark said she had the full sup­port of “ev­ery sin­gle per­son’’ in her cau­cus the day be­fore she made her an­nounce­ment, but felt her de­par­ture would give the Lib­eral party a chance to re­new it­self and pre­pare for the Op­po­si­tion benches af­ter 16 years in power.

She said the tim­ing of her exit is good for both her and the party be­cause she doesn’t be­lieve there will be an elec­tion in the fall.

She will also be giv­ing up her seat in the leg­is­la­ture, trig­ger­ing a by­elec­tion in Kelowna West within six months.

“I am done with pub­lic life,’’ Clark said. “There is noth­ing worse than a politi­cian hang­ing on be­cause they think they’re ir­re­place­able.’’

Clark said she’s proud of her party’s ac­com­plish­ments, in­clud­ing five con­sec­u­tive bal­anced bud­gets and the cre­ation of the Great Bear Rain­for­est.

How­ever, she was widely crit­i­cized last month for aban­don­ing long-time Lib­eral ideals with a throne speech that adapted prom­ises from the NDP and Greens, in­clud­ing a com­mit­ment to a pover­tyre­duc­tion plan and ad­ding $1 bil­lion over four years for child care and early child­hood devel­op­ment.

Her party was ul­ti­mately de­feated in a non-con­fi­dence vote fol­low­ing an NDP-Green deal. That al­liance will have a two-seat ma­jor­ity when Clark va­cates her seat.

Clark said she has no im­me­di­ate ca­reer plans but will do some gar­den­ing and “get Hamish to do his home­work be­cause Grade 11’s a busy year.’’

Mom and son said they’re look­ing for­ward to go­ing to the the­atre and Clark said she’ll likely be a “stage mom’’ to Hamish, who she said is a tal­ented ac­tor.

Clark was elected to the B.C. leg­is­la­ture in 1996 but left pol­i­tics in 2004 to spend time with her son. She made a failed bid for mayor of Van­cou­ver the fol­low­ing year be­fore launch­ing a suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship bid for the Lib­er­als in 2011.

Hamish Telford, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of the Fraser Val­ley, said Clark could still make a po­lit­i­cal come­back if the Lib­eral party drafts her back into the fold, es­pe­cially if the po­ten­tially frag­ile New Democrats fall in the com­ing months.

He said that in 1979, for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau left pol­i­tics when the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives had a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment un­der Joe Clark.

“Then the Clark gov­ern­ment fell be­fore the Lib­er­als had a new leader. Cau­cus asked Trudeau to come back and he did and his great­est ac­com­plish­ment in pol­i­tics came af­ter that with the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms in 1982,’’ Telford said.

How­ever, the for­mer premier dis­missed a re­turn to pol­i­tics, even say­ing she won’t be get­ting in­volved in any lead­er­ship cam­paigns for can­di­dates vy­ing for her job.

“I’m not plan­ning on go­ing back, that’s for sure. Pol­i­tics isn’t a happy job. It’s not a fun job. It’s a ful­fill­ing job.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.