Did you ever just wake up one day and know deep down that something important was going to happen to you? That was the way I felt last month at the turn of the New Year. Something deep down told me the first year, of the second decade, of the third millennium, was going to be a pivotal year.
How we, and our political leaders, choose to answer the questions below will shape the kind of world our children will grow up in.
Which BC party will get a new leader after the Olympics?
Neither leader is popular within their parties, but neither has an obvious heir apparent.
The BC Liberals have a big problem. Their leader is less popular then the party, but all the potential successors have baggage. Gordon Campbell hasn’t gotten sufficient credit for holding together what is essentially a coalition party for almost nine years. Keeping the former Socred, Reform and Liberal factions within the party from eating their own is a significant achievement, even if the opposition and progressives have done a dismal job of laying land mines around issues that would fissure Liberal unity. However, there is no obvious successor on the horizon that could likely maintain this difficult unity. This all changes if Carol Taylor is persuaded to throw her hat in the ring.
So unless Gordon Campbell wants to move on, or Carol Taylor commits, the BC Liberals would be taking a big chance trying to force their unpopular leader out. Perhaps a successful Olympics, with a large Canadian medal haul, will temper the HST backlash and Campbell’s sliding popularity, but my prediction is Campbell stays at least until 2011. But if Campbell decides to go, it will likely be in June.
Carole James is vulnerable. The NDP has no money and NDP insiders were already lining up as successors before the last election. The lukewarm response to Ms. James’ recent convention speech illustrates the lack of enthusiasm for her leadership. Everyone agrees the NDP needs revitalization, but there is big disagreement about which direction the party should go in. In addition, there is no obvious successor, and every candidate mentioned to date has issues. My guess is Ms. James will survive the year. But pressure for her to step down will begin to heat up in 2010 and will become intense when Ms. James becomes eligible for a pension after six years of service. Of course, she could step down as leader sooner and continue in the awkward situation of a former leader becoming just another member of caucus. Possible, but I doubt it.
There is no indication Green Party leader Jane Sterk is leaving any time soon. However, at some point the BC Green Party must translate their support into an electoral victory. Unless the party quickly begins to prioritize (and fund) the hard methodic organizing work that is needed between elections, this will never happen.