For a glimpse of how manipulative and detached from reality many B.C. Liberals have become, one needs to look no further than a three-page memo written by party insiders that deals with the future of Burnaby General Hospital.
Entitled "A NEW Burnaby Hospital," the memo purports to lay out a strategy for winning three Burnaby ridings and boost the party's chances in two Vancouver ridings. If it didn't reveal such a crass and phony scheme to whip up public opinion over the hospital's future, it would be laughable.
And much of it is laughable. My personal favourite is its emphasis, in bold type, of the fact that Premier Christy Clark was born in this very hospital!
Talk about a game changer. I'm sure public opinion in Burnaby will instantly swing the premier's way once everyone realizes which maternity ward she was born in!
The memo was written back in December 2011, and reveals in fine detail how utterly politically partisan a committee created to plan the hospital's future really is and how it was created to save the hides of B.C. Liberal MLAs and nothing else.
The memo's authors are B.C. Liberal party insiders, including a former president of a Burnaby riding association for the party. They make the argument that rebuilding the hospital - you know, the one where the premier was born - is the ticket to winning seats in the municipality.
They suggested creating a committee chaired by one Pamela Gardner, a doctor who was - get this! - born in the hospital as well! Oh, and by the way: Gardner is the former B.C. Liberal riding president and a co-author of the memo. They also suggested putting two B.C. Liberal Burnaby MLAs - arguably two of the weakest MLAs in the entire B.C. Liberal caucus: Harry Bloy and Richard Lee - as well as two other potential B.C. Liberal party candidates on the committee.
The committee has since submitted a report to Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, but its credibility now appears to be completely shot.
The memo also reveals the B.C. Liberals seem petrified by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and his wife Kathy, who of course is the NDP MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake. They were extremely worried that Kathy Corrigan was going to launch a "save Burnaby Hospital campaign" and thus take ownership of the issue and dooming the B.C. Liberals' electoral chances, presumably forever.
The authors suggest they introduce "a second generation Chinese doctor candidate" for Burnaby-Deer Lake, in order "to champion the issue, it would help seal the deal."
Seal the deal?
Talk about delusional. Corrigan won a close race in her riding in 2009 (she won by a little more than 500 votes), but she was facing a B.C. Liberal incumbent then and now she holds the incumbent's advantage. That and the fact her party has a double digit lead over the B.C. Liberals in the polls suggest it will take far, far more than a promise of a new hospital to defeat her next spring. Corrigan could probably go on a Hawaiian vacation during the entire election campaign and still be able to hang onto her seat.
I'm sure Corrigan is no doubt pleased at the rank amateurism of her opponents here. Not only is their off-the-mark scheme to unseat her a study in fantasy politics, but the fact they put all this in writing shows a special brand of stupidity that must warm her heart.
Derek Corrigan is no doubt laughing about all this as well. He is firmly ensconced in the mayor's office and has emerged as one of the most influential and powerful figures in municipal politics. If this kind of scheming is an example of his political opposition, he won't be leaving that mayor's office anytime soon.
Another telling aspect of this sad tale is that the memo was leaked to the New Democrats, who gleefully shared it with the media. It's a political truism that when a government is truly in trouble, its inner secrets start getting shared with the Opposition and that's what's happening here.
The great irony, of course, is rather than using the hospital to win three seats in Burnaby, this whole episode has more likely cost the B.C. Liberals all the seats there.
Or, in the words of the memo's authors, they've "sealed the deal."
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC Keith.Baldrey@globalnews.ca
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Email your thoughts on this issue to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail-mail a letter to Suite 201-7889 132nd Street, Surrey, B.C., V3W 4N2. Include full name, address and phone number for verification purposes.