When Christy Clark said she was leaving, as MLA and leader of the B.C. Liberal party, Marc Dalton was both surprised, and not so much.
“Yes and no,” Dalton said following Clark’s announcement last week.
“I thought that she may stay on a while,” Dalton, former Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, said Monday.
Dalton said Clark had strong support from the caucus, but was thinking of the welfare of the party by stepping down. Her resignation as both leader and MLA takes effect this week, which means a byelection will have to be called within six months.
Dalton said Clark left B.C. in good shape.
However, he added, a fresh face would improve party chances going into the next election, whenever that’s called.
He said Clark’s Throne Speech was based on a healthier-than-expected financial surplus of $2.8 billion surplus.
A new leader will re-examine priorities and the party’s focus is on having a strong economy, he added.
Clark resigning her seat does make it easier for the NDP, by creating a two-seat margin, Dalton acknowledged.
But he thinks the Liberals should win the Kelowna seat whenever a byelection is held.
Dalton said Clark always responded to his local issues.
“She just wasn’t on her own agenda. She was a team player.”
Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson, who once hosted a barbecue for Clark and considers her a friend, said he expected Clark’s resignation.
He said she may have thought about resigning on election night May 9, when the Liberals won 43 seats to the combined 44 seats for the NDP and Greens, then asked herself what she was accomplishing by staying.
And maybe the public sentiment is to let the NDP-Green some time to govern B.C., “to see if this thing works.”
Robson said: “I think once it became evident that the government was going to change hands, I don’t think she’s credible to stay on as leader. And I think she felt that.”
And should the Liberals do poorly next election, Clark could be blamed, he said.
“So, I think it’s best that she do it now.”
He said the province has “survived” NDP governments before.
“Hopefully, it’s a short inoculation period.”
Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, though, said Clark was a divisive figure in B.C. politics, but anyone who puts their life on hold serve in office deserves respect.
“I’m happy she’s gone.”
He said the Liberals didn’t know to deal with a positive, bouyant economy and didn’t spend that money in communities.
He’d also like the B.C. Liberal party to change its name.
“[B.C.] Liberals aren’t Liberals, they’re Conservatives. They’ve got to be who they are. It’s a fake. It’s a lie,” he said of the party’s name.
Ex-Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing said Clark helped Maple Ridge get another ambulance when it was missed during the first expansion of ambulance services last year.
Bing also cited the new MRI machine at Ridge Meadows Hospital the long-awaited announcement of Albion elementary.
It’s understandable that Clark wouldn’t hint that she was leaving because then people would be after her job.
He expects the Liberals to vote in a new leader within a year, but would like to see somone in place by February to get ready for the spring sitting of the legislature.
And that does give the NDP opportunity to government until that time.
He said Andrew Wilkinson or Todd Stone could be potential party leaders.
“To me, experience matters. I think there are people who are sitting MLAs who I think are good leaders.”