Amrik Virk, the only South Asian Liberal MLA, should be in cabinet
NDP’s Harry Lali and Jagrup Brar lose, Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan re-elected
BY RATTAN MALL
THE Liberals once again managed to scare enough British Columbians to win a fourth majority government in a row and blow away pollsters and political analysts by a stunning victory.
Christy Clark hugs her son Hamish after delivering her victory speech on Tuesday night. All photos (except those of Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan) by Chandra Bodalia
Indeed, Premier Christy Clark proved to be the ‘comeback boss’ as one Liberal put it on Tuesday night, although she lost her own seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to NDP candidate David Eby by 785 votes (10,162 to 9,377).
Clark will have to ask one of her MLAs to give up their seat so that she can run from that riding in a byelection.
A jubilant Christy Clark at B.C. Liberal Party headquarters.
The Liberals won 50 seats (with 44.4 per cent of the total vote) – five more than what they had before the election – while the NDP bagged only 33 seats (with 39.5 per cent) – a loss of three seats. The Green Party made history by winning its first ever seat (Andrew Weaver in Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island) and won eight per cent of the total vote in B.C. Independent Vicki Huntingdon was re-elected from Delta South. The B.C. Conservatives drew a blank with 4.8 per cent of the total vote in the province.
Interestingly, Mario Canseco, vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, told the Globe and Mail newspaper that a major factor in the NDP’s loss may have been that party’s failure in getting out their supporters in the 18-34 age group, among which they had a two-to-one lead over the Liberals, to vote. On the other hand, the Liberals polled much better in the ‘55 years of age and over’ group that had a much higher turnout and was susceptible to the Liberals’ focus on the economy and jobs, he told the newspaper.
And SFU Psychology adjunct professor Joti Samra said a psychology phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility may offer some answers. She noted that media coverage showing the NDP with a large lead in the polls could have affected the result. Samra said maybe voters gave up and felt they didn’t need to cast their ballot because they thought the outcome was already decided.
In any case, I sure didn’t like the way that Clark resorted to negative politics, stooping even lower than her predecessor Gordon Campbell, and I slammed her quite rightly for it.
But I hope that the ORIGINAL Clark – the one who boldly raised minimum wage and introduced the Family Day holiday for which I praised her time and time again – will be the REAL Clark once again.
To be fair, she was driven into a corner by mean-spirited Conservatives in her party such as Kevin Falcon, who quit like rats deserting a sinking ship and must now be kicking themselves even as Clark has the last laugh.
As I wrote in this newspaper last August: “Falcon has exposed himself to British Columbians as a pathetic chicken who just couldn’t take the heat of a challenging political situation and decided not to run in the provincial election in May.
“Here was a man who taunted Christy Clark, demanding a commitment from her that she would not go back to her radio station CKNW job if she lost the Liberal leadership race and declaring that whether he won or lost, he would for sure be a candidate for the party.”
[Incidentally, sources in Ottawa tell Asian Journal that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to appoint Kevin Falcon a senator.
I had repeatedly warned the NDP in this newspaper that the Liberals would resort to scaring British Columbians about the economy, BUT with the huge lead the NDP enjoyed at the beginning of the campaign, I believed British Columbians had got over their insecurity.
But man, was I wrong!
I also consistently warned the NDP about not taking their lead in the polls for granted. For example, last November I wrote: “If the economy shows improvement by 2013 or even earlier, all that Premier Christy Clark has to do is ask British Columbians if they would endanger the economy by voting in the NDP and throw in some promises about lowering some taxes – and guess what the result will be?”
Well, on May 10, the news that the total number of jobs in B.C. rose by 9,500 and the unemployment rate fell to 6.4 per cent from 7 per cent in April obviously made British Columbians get cold feet about an NDP government.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong took full advantage of this to scare voters as he noted: “We’ve seen this movie from the NDP before – it features high deficits, high unemployment and people having to leave for work elsewhere. The change the NDP is offering, weak economic leadership, is not something we can afford.”
I only hope that British Columbians won’t end up regretting it like they did after 2001, 2005 and 2009 even as B.C.’s debt has kept increasing under the Liberals and the middle class continues to suffer while the rich keep getting richer.
And I sure hope Clark does not end by being hated like Campbell who needed increased RCMP security.
So let’s see how she performs now.
Meanwhile, those who were planning to replace her in the party must be really messing their pants now.
Clark told the media on Wednesday that she thought the turning point was the leaders’ TV debate.
She said she thought that her clear program on what her government would do helped her because people could disagree with it, but at least they knew where she stood as compared to Dix who would not state where he stood on various issues. She noted: “We won on the economy; we really did.”
She also noted that with “25 returning MLAs and 25 brand-new MLAs fresh to the legislature” it was a “fantastic balance of fresh eyes and renewal and wisdom and experience.”
When asked if she expected Dix to remain the Opposition Leader, Clark pointed out that leading a party is “a huge, huge responsibility” and that it’s “personally very, very difficult.” She added that Dix “needs the time and deserves the time to be able to make a decision” about that.
But she also noted that Dix was “a tough competitor” and that he is “an incredibly hard worker” and “so if he decides to stay or he decides to leave, the decision is his.” She added: “I have to say, coming out of this campaign, he earned my respect.”
And B.C. too has earned the respect of the rest of Canada as we now have the highest percentage of women MLAs in Canada: 29 of the 85 MLAs – 34 per cent. Thirty-nine per cent of the NDP caucus will be female compared to 30 per cent for the Liberals.
DIX’S MONUMENTAL BLUNDER
IN an article last February, I warned: “Adrian Dix and NDP Must Counter Liberals’ Negative Campaign by Hitting Back Hard!”
I wrote: “Dix should stop fooling himself and face the reality of the Liberals’ vicious attack ads against him by fighting fire with fire.
“Or else he may end up frittering away the comfortable lead he still has over the Liberals.
“No sane person will blame him for slamming the Liberals, who are shamelessly resorting to negative tactics, thus showing British Columbians that they have little positive stuff to offer.
“… Dix is being pretty naive if he really thinks he can afford to remain positive with the pro-Liberal group headed by Jim Shepard, Concerned Citizens for B.C.’s, highlighting every negative thing from his past.
“Let’s not forget how the Liberals under Gordon Campbell held on to power all these years by lying through their teeth again and again.
“ … Now the Liberals are resorting to the same old dirty tricks!
“Dix, wake up, buddy!”
But Dix didn’t wake up and NDPers are now blaming him for the loss. That he could blow away a 20-point lead is mind-boggling. They are really pissed off at his monumental blunder in running a so-called positive campaign and not facing the reality of negative right-wing politics.
Of course, BC NDP President Moe Sihota and the other party bigwigs will have no choice but to support Dix for now because they apparently fully backed Dix’s failed strategy.
But once the NDP MLAs’ frustrations boil over, they will have no choice but to allow a leadership contest.
AMRIK VIRK SHOULD BE IN CABINET
AMRIK Virk, an RCMP inspector who won from Surrey-Tynehead, should be in cabinet not only because he’s the only South Asian Liberal MLA, but he has calibre and has a respectable standing in both South Asian and mainstream communities.
Virk (8,425 votes) defeated NDP candidate Avtar Bains (6,925 votes).
Back in December, Asian Journal was the first to report that the Liberals were bending over backwards to persuade Virk to be their candidate from Surrey-Tynehead, Dave Hayer’s riding. And in February we were the first to report that he had agreed to run.
In fact, the official announcement came as a welcome relief after the disastrous nomination of former MP Sukh Dhaliwal in Surrey-Panorama riding. Dhaliwal was forced to step down by the party after the Vancouver Sun revealed that he was facing tax evasion charges, something that he had kept hidden from the party.
Dhaliwal must be feeling really frustrated, because if it hadn’t been for his income tax problems, he would in all probability been elected an MLA from Surrey-Panorama and would have for sure been in cabinet.
Some South Asian Liberal supporters told Asian Journal that they were partly angry and partly amused at how some South Asian businessmen who had supported the NDP and even urged their employees to vote NDP, suddenly ran to Liberal victory rallies to congratulate the successful Liberal candidates when they heard the stunning news that the NDP were losing badly.
According to one Liberal supporter, one businessman was heard sucking up to NDP MLA Harry Bains, telling him that Dix had better make him transportation minister, and then the same person ran to Virk’s victory celebration and lifted him up on his shoulders!
Virk, who first joined the RCMP in 1987, was commissioned to the rank of inspector in 2001, and had been active in youth and gang violence prevention throughout the Lower Mainland throughout his career.
Virk also spent six years on the Board of Directors of the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, and is the Vice Chairman of the Board at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
He was born in India and arrived in Williams Lake, B.C., at the age of five years. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in economics and history, at Simon Fraser University he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1987. Upon completion of training, he was posted to a number of cities and towns in Alberta where he performed a variety of policing duties with a substantial portion of his experience coming from the work he did with various First Nations communities.
In 2001 he was commissioned to the rank of inspector and posted to Surrey. Between 2001 and 2006 he was responsible for providing executive leadership to a wide variety of policing units. Virk has been active in the issue of youth and gang violence in communities throughout the Lower Mainland and worked extensively with community leaders to help create the British Columbia Integrated Gang Task Force.
Virk is a well-known community volunteer and in the six years he spent on the Board of Directors of the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, provided hands-on guidance in raising millions of dollars for enhancing health care for Surrey residents. He assisted Simon Fraser University Surrey campus in the “Community Engagement Board’’ and has served for the last five years on the Board of Governors of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He is currently the Chair of the Human Resources Committee and the Vice Chairperson of the Board.
Virk has a black belt in karate. He has lived in Surrey for the last 11 years with his wife Jatinder and their three daughters.
BRAR & LALI OUT, BAINS & CHOUHAN RE-ELECTED
FOR the past few weeks, a Liberal supporter, who’s been giving me very reliable tips, kept telling me that Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Jagrup Brar would lose as he had upset many South Asians because of a certain group of unpopular people he has been hanging around with.
I thought it was just wishful thinking, but he proved to be right!
Langley Mayor Peter Fassbinder defeated Brar by 265 votes: Fassbinder – 8,201, Brar – 7,936.
In any case, Brar never really impressed me as a politician.
The same source also predicted victories for Amrik Virk and Surrey Councillor Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Panorama) and said that Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton) would face tough opposition from Liberal candidate Sukhminder Virk.
One of the biggest surprises was the defeat of Harry Lali in Fraser-Nicola where the Liberal’s Jackie Tegart was elected.
Incidentally, Asian Journal had lashed out against Lali and NDP MLA Jenny Kwan for leading a senseless revolt against then-NDP leader Carole James in December 2010. That led to a lot of bitterness in the party.
Many NDPers actually believe that the NDP would have done better under James and I am sure quite a few of them are cursing both Lali and Kwan!
But South Asians are happy and relieved that Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan (Burnaby-Edmonds) were re-elected by comfortable margins. Both of them would definitely have been in cabinet if the NDP had won and they will continue to play an important role in the Opposition.
South Asian supporters of the B.C. Liberal Party celebrate on Tuesday. (More photos of celebration in ‘Community and News in Photos’ Section)
One of the NDP losers was none other than GABRIEL YIU who was defeated in Vancouver-Fraserview by the Liberals’ Suzanne Anton by more than 500 votes (9,127 to 8,581). He’s the one who didn’t miss an opportunity to say or write some nonsense or the other against former solicitor general Kash Heed who defeated him in the 2009 election. He was even paid by the NDP on taxpayers’ money for so-called outreach to the South Asian community and wrote numerous articles in some South Asian newspapers.