COLUMN: Hogg has tough job ahead

Surrey-White Rock MLA named caucus chair

S

urrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg is the new chair of the BC Liberal caucus, a position that some may liken to that of an officer on the ill-fated Titanic.

The times are not good for the BC Liberals. There is a great deal of unhappiness with the governing party, which is definitely showing its age. It is now in its 11th year of power.

Hogg reportedly won the caucus chair position with the support of about two-thirds of the caucus members, and it has been reported that he won against the wishes of Premier Christy Clark, who wanted Vancouver MLA Margaret MacDiarmid in the position.

Hogg has been a longtime MLA, first going to Victoria after winning a byelection in 1997, when Liberal MLA Wilf Hurd stepped down to run federally. At one time, he was Gordon Campbell’s roommate, and was an early member of his cabinet. He resigned in 2004 as minister of children and families, when an independent audit was called into a branch of his ministry. As such, he did so on a matter of principle, and no one who knows him doubts that he is a principled individual.

He was later reappointed to cabinet as minister in charge of ActNow BC and minister of state for mining, but has not served in cabinet since 2009.

While he has mostly kept his opinions on the state of BC Liberal affairs out of the public realm, it is no secret that he has not been happy with some of the government’s moves since it won the 2009 election. The BC Liberals went from projecting an aura of managerial competence to a bumbling, half-baked response to the introduction of the HST. The government announced that the HST was a fait accompli in July 2009, two months after an election in which the subject barely came up.

BC Liberal caucus members were told that the tax was going ahead, after cabinet decided to go in that direction. The result has been two years of political turmoil and upheaval which cost Campbell his job, and also took down NDP leader Carole James. She resigned after some members of her party felt she was not capitalizing on the Liberal woes.

Hogg, who served 20 years on White Rock council with 10 of those years as mayor, has the ability to ease tensions among individuals, a strength he showed repeatedly as mayor. This may be needed in the caucus room, particularly if the HST referendum results in a defeat of the tax.

If that happens, the BC Liberals do not appear to have a Plan B. Thus far, Premier Clark has not shown the ability to pull the Liberals out of the political quicksand.

They do have one advantage. There are many people who are not ready to vote NDP, given the party’s dismal handling of many aspects of the economy in the 1990s. New NDP leader Adrian Dix was at former premier Glen Clark’s side during much of that time, and that won’t make it easy for the NDP to campaign on economic issues.

However, the BC Conservatives are more lively than they have been in decades. Even if the Conservatives pick up just five per cent of the vote, and don’t elect any candidates, there is a very good chance the NDP will win as a result of vote splitting.

Clark, Hogg and others on the bridge know that – and so does Dix, who has the margins of victory in each B.C. riding in 2009 memorized.

Hogg will have plenty of work to do to keep caucus members ready to unreservedly back the government. Thus far, one of the BC Liberals’ greatest strengths has been the backing from caucus, despite all the missteps the cabinet has taken. Even the two caucus members who left in the turmoil over the HST and Campbell’s leadership, Blair Lekstrom and Bill Bennett, are back in the fold.

If Hogg can assist Clark in keeping caucus united, and if a united caucus is able to show B.C. residents that the BC Liberals remain a viable option, he will have more than met the expectations of those who voted for him as caucus chair – and many of those who have backed him in four straight elections in Surrey-White Rock.

Frank Bucholtz writes Fridays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

White Rock Rotary Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula (front right) with other club and community volunteers at the launch of the free hot lunch program at the city parking lot at Russell Avenue and Johnston Road on May 21. (File photo)
Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Recipients ‘are very good people… going through some tough times’

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Police called to Surrey home for report of weapon, man taken into custody

Surrey RCMP say people evacuated from house, one found in a bedroom ‘hiding from police’

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read