The resignation of Blair Lekstrom, MLA South Peace, came as a surprise and shock to Premier Campbell and he has reason to be concerned.
The reason Mr. Lekstrom gave for his action in leaving cabinet and the Liberal caucus was the unpopularity of the HST in his constituency. I take him at his word but suggest that he also had in mind the strong opposition in his riding to Site “C”. He also knows that the South Peace constituency isn’t the slam dunk for the right wing alternative it once was and he cannot run in the next election without dealing not only with Site “C” but the so-called Clean Energy Act which was his act when Energy Minister.
In the early days following his resignation Mr. Lekstrom will be pressed to renounce the Clean Energy Act, Site “C” and private power. It will be speculated that he will join with Vicki Huntington to start a new political party.
I resigned from the Bill Bennett cabinet in January 1981 though the only principle at play was the enormous amount of money I was offered to become a talk show host. It was a pressurized time and my wild and I holed up in the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver for a few days emerging only when the only telephone message was from my Mom asking me to give her a call, I advise Mr. Lekstrom to take some time off and go to London or somewhere you won’t be pestered and let the issue be overtaken by other events.
I believe there is indeed more to this than meets the eye. Mr. Lekstrom can see the wheels coming off the Liberal machine. I suspect he has talked to other Liberal MLAs about this. I also suspect that had his constituents been in favour of Site “C” he would still be in cabinet.
If Mr. Lekstrom runs in the 2013 election he knows he must deal with what will be the “energy” issue and that he can’t win by standing for Site “C” or Campbell’s idiotic energy plan. He has, by his move, bought himself time to look at the political lay of the land. If I were forming a third party it would be hard to contain myself from putting the big rush on Mr. Lekstrom. That would be a mistake if only because the timing, which is everything in politics, is terrible.
I believe that the notion of a new party will grow in popularity especially if someone like Carole Taylor were to lead it. I also believe that Mr. Lekstrom will be ready to consider this alternative once he spends time canvassing all the options with the public.
The best advice I would give to whoever is working on a new party is to approach Mr. Lekstrom, privately, and do no more than say “here’s how I can by reached if you wish to talk about it”.
Clearly, Mr. Lekstrom has options to consider or he wouldn’t have resigned from the Liberal caucus. I believe that once he has evaluated his options as a lonely man in a political wilderness he will know that he needs colleagues.
If, after he considers his position, he is ready to talk about a break in the political scene that sees the Liberal Party unable to save itself and a New Democrat party unable to establish itself as the govern-in-waiting, we could see the biggest political upheaval since W.A.C. Bennett left the Conservative caucus (after failing to be declared their leader and sat as an Independent and the rest is history.
Politics in this province is always interesting!