Don McRae and his supporters got a lift when the recall campaign targeting fellow Liberal MLA Ida Chong fell short.
Recall proponent Kathryn Askew is surely urging her Comox Valley troops to try harder to collect 19,348 or more valid signatures before March 22.
Don McRae is not Ida Chong, and the Comox Valley is not Oak Bay-Gordon Head, but recall-minded people here cannot be encouraged by the numbers from Victoria. Recallers gathered only about 40 per cent of what they needed to force a byelection in Chong’s riding.
Assuming the recall movement opened with ridings that give them a good shot of success, this does not bode well for current campaigns here and in Kamloops, nor for subsequent attempts.
While it’s relatively easy to launch a recall campaign against any B.C. MLA for almost any reason, the threshold for success, as it should be, is higher.
Getting the minimum number of signatures from people validly registered to vote in the past provincial election is complicated by the fact some of them have moved out of the ridings in which they lived. Being denied access to multiple-family dwellings is another frustration for petitioners, but that’s the playing field.
The biggest reason for the failure to oust Chong was the simple fact that not enough people — even ones still steaming about the underhanded way the HST was introduced — signed the petition.
Many people in this riding will not sign a petition because McRae is a decent, hard-working, first-time MLA whose sin was to avoid political suicide by not defying his powerful leader.
However, even if recallers fail, they send a message to rookie backbenchers like McRae, cabinet ministers like Chong and especially to leaders replacing Gordon Campbell and Carole James.
Many of us are weary of leaders who concentrate power, freezing out backbenchers and even cabinet members from influencing decisions — and demanding absolute loyalty, or else.