No knockout punch coming in Kamloops ridings
We’ve passed the halfway mark and this election still isn’t much fun. The barbershop poll has it right — the Liberals are ahead on points in Kamloops, but that’s not saying much.
Unless a candidate confesses at tonight’s Daily News-CBC forum to having run a red light or backdated a memo, tomorrow’s news will be that there was “no knockout punch.”
We love knockout punches. Who doesn’t remember where they were the night in 1984 when Brian Mulroney smacked John Turner in the ribs with “You had an option, sir”? Or, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” that powerhouse uppercut delivered to the chin of the hapless Dan Quayle by Senator Lloyd Bentsen in the 1988 vice-presidential debate?
How could we ever forget Liberal leader Gordon Wilson’s deft jab in the 1991 B.C. campaign: “Here’s a classic example of why nothing ever gets done in the province of British Columbia” as his NDP and Social Credit rivals scrapped beside him like schoolyard bullies?
For a local knockout to be scored, a local issue would have to be defined. Ajax could have been one but, with the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP stuck in various degrees of neutral, and no Green candidates, it never had a chance.
The closest thing to a stumble has been Kamloops South NDP candidate Tom Friedman’s back-peddle on the Royal Inland Hospital expansion.
Liberal candidate Todd Stone scored some major points on a radio forum when he pushed Friedman into sounding equivocal on the NDP’s support for the master plan. A couple of days later, as if to make sure the point was made, the trees started coming down in front of the hospital.
Friedman picked himself up and got back in the ring with an assurance that he actually did support the expansion but if Stone doesn’t use tonight’s forum to get Friedman back in a corner I’ll be surprised.
The other misstep for the NDP came from party leader Adrian Dix when he chose Kamloops, on earth Day, to announce his newfound reservations about the Kinder-Morgan pipeline.
The pipeline is very much a local issue, since it snakes through Kamloops via the North Thompson Valley and its expansion would have a major impact on the community. Dix’s change of heart, couched as a concern about Vancouver becoming an oil-exporting port, is popular with environmentalists and Liberals, too.
The reason environmentalists like it is obvious. Christy Clark likes it even more because it’s given her an opportunity to paint the NDP leader as an anti-growth flip-flopper. Changing your mind on an issue as it develops isn’t such a bad thing, but you’ve got to be straight forward about it. Dix tried way too hard to avoid admitting a turn-about.
Which leaves education. Tough to debate education when the Liberal candidates refuse to show up. So if you count their refusal to attend the teachers’ forum as a mistake, and Kinder Morgan as a local issue, the Liberals are still ahead 2-1 as we finish the half-time break.
A knockout punch would be exciting, but we tend to over-rate them anyway. Bentsen was beaten by Quale, Mulroney left the arena when his own party was out on its feet, and Wilson never won another round.
Even Joe Louis lost his crown to Rocky Marciano.
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