Gordon Wilson: The Next Leader of British Columbia's NDP?
by Jeremy Baillie
ver a few weeks ago now Gordon Wilson of the Progressive Democratic Alliance jumped out of his one man ship to what observers are calling the sinking ship of the NDP. Why did he do it?
He wants to be Premier of B.C. pure and simple and the NDP were his best chances for becoming just that. Wilson's own party, the Progressive Democratic Alliance had only one seat, his own, in the British Columbia Legislature and no where in the province did the PDA look likely to unseat any NDP, Reform, or Liberal MLAs.
So where did that leave Wilson? A return to the Liberals was completely out of the question. Why not jump to the Reform party? First, they don't mesh with Wilson's ideals and secondly, who could compete with both Bill Vander zalm's ego and shadow. Most observers are just waiting for the old wacky Bill Vander Zalm to return anyway, so if you're Gordon Wilson why be around when he shows up?
This meant only the NDP was left as a possible new home for Wilson. Most observers think Wilson's jumped onto a sinking ship. Ironically, he was made the minister responsible for B.C. Ferries.
This still leaves the burning question of why not stay with the PDA for the time being and wait until the Liberals have their shot at forming a government in the next British Columbia election?
Wilson's PDA seat was not assured and at least by jumping to a proven party he stands a better chance of holding onto his seat in the legislature in the next election.
So what about this sinking ship known as the NDP? Well, most poles show the Liberals in the lead, but the key is that most people are only thinking of voting for the liberals because they don't want the NDP do be able to do any more damage to B.C. If the people had a viable alternative to voting for the Liberals they would.
British Columbians are fearful of what a Liberal Government with the Fraser Institute as its policy maker would do to things like education, welfare and education.
So in comes Gordon Wilson. How does this change things. Well, remember back about 5 years ago? Pundits thought then too that the NDP was finished. The NDP had just endured the Bingo Gate scandal that caused Bill Harcourt to resign as both leader of the NDP and British Columbia's premiere.
What happened next is the key. In came straight-shooting, Glen Clark. He had a glib answer, and a smile for everything and every camera. He said, look folks, I'm a new face. I wasn't apart of the mistakes of the past. I represent a new start.
The next election is a few years away. Let us suppose the NDP as a party is smart and dumps Clark or Clark, himself, puts the party ahead of himself by stepping down. Who instantly becomes the frontrunners in a leadership race? The two front runners would undoubtedly be Gordon Wilson and Ujal Dosanjh.
The NDP in B.C. is a smart political machine. They survived in the political wilderness while Bill Sr., Bill Bennett Jr. and the Social Credit ran the province.
The NDP has learned a valuable key to politics today: keep re-inventing yourself. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gordon Wilson become NDP leader and follow Clark's example by saying he is a new face on the party, a fresh start.
What if that does not work? What if Clark stays and tries to win the next election? Well, barring some unforeseen event (which is always a possibility in politics), the Liberals will probably win the next election. Even if the Liberals win the next election, Wilson is still in a good position. Undoubtedly after a Liberal victory, there would be a push to dump Clark and elect a new opposition leader.
So whether in the near future or further down the road, Gordon Wilson will be getting his shot at becoming Premier of British Columbia.
Jeremy Baillie is a 1st Year Elementary Education major and an aspiring writer with the rejection slips to prove it.