Taken at face value, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon’s bemusement over the Legislature press gallery’s reaction to his noncommittal comments about next year’s general election is well-timed – and amusing – damage control.
The Surrey-Cloverdale MLA’s remarks came in response to questions stemming from the defection of Abbotsford MLA John van Dongen from the BC Liberals to the Conservatives.
Reporters asked last week if Falcon would run in the May 14, 2013 fixed-date election. His response: family priorities might take precedence over any political aspirations.
“As minister of finance, there are very, very long hours, there is travel, these are issues that you also have to factor into the final decision…”
Not unexpectedly, one would think, this kicked off speculation on what it meant to the party’s – and specifically Premier Christy Clark’s – future.
“They ran with scissors on this,” Falcon told Peace Arch News the next day, noting he goes through the same process before every election.
After all, shouldn’t family – as Clark often suggests – come first? Besides, what incumbent commits to running 14 months prior to voting day?
Many, it turns out. With good reason.
When we cast our ballots for political representation, we are investing in our future. At all levels, we seek visionaries with both long- and short-term goals to better serve us.
There are exceptions; soon-to-retire legislators are returned to office to finish the job, and the occasional first-timer gets in at an advanced age, when a single term is all that’s likely.
And, of course, there are no guarantees our fellow voters will see things our way. Or party leaders, for that matter.
But then, these are factors ultimately beyond the individual politician’s control. Personal commitment to the job is not.
The minister of finance, it must be noted, is the architect of the annual budget, projecting our economic needs well into the future. If Falcon can’t commit, Clark must find someone who will.
Indeed, did Falcon not factor in that the premier’s job – which he campaigned for last year – also comes with long hours? During that divisive campaign, Falcon repeatedly stated he would be running in the next election, win or lose.
What has changed?
Unlike a ministerial position or the premiership, there are many job opportunities in Falcon’s constituency that require little, if any, long-term commitment; most, however, offer nowhere near the influence and wages, as voters can attest.
Wonder which of these aforementioned positions Falcon is eyeing next.