EDITORIAL: Have the Liberals ‘lost the room?’

A muted response to the Liberal budget has some wondering if anyone cares what Premier Clark and team have to say.

There is a deadly moment in sports that occurs when someone is said to have “lost the room.”

A coach will be trying to fire up a team to win with a locker-room speech, only to realize the players are tuning him out.

They simply don’t care.

Losing the room, experts say, is a consequence of losing trust.

People stop believing what the coach or manager is saying.

Then, they stop believing in the person.

And finally, they stop listening.

When that happens, there isn’t much a leader can do to win their audience back.

But premier Christy Clark is giving it a shot.

Halving inherited a troubled, controversy-racked party that is down in the polls, she needs to fire up supporters if she’s going to win the next election.

That means finding a way to rally Liberal backers, and what better way to wind up the troops than a restraint-minded provincial budget?

Unfortunately for the Liberals, even their most die-hard supporters seem unable to muster more than a tepid message of support.

Locally, Gary Hollick, the president of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce said local businesses were not especially enthusiastic supporters of the budget.

Hollick used the word “lackluster” to describe it, and though he added that was preferable to a “flamboyant” approach that would boost government spending and debt at a potential risk to the province’s credit rating, the lack of enthusiasm was apparent.

Ditto for chamber executive director Cliff Annable, who made the budget – including the Liberal decision to keep the 2.5 per cent small business tax they had promised to eliminate – sound like a bitter-tasting medicine.

While chamber members were not happy about it, local business people understand the situation the government is in, he noted.

“Someone’s got to pay the bills,” Annable said.

Not quite a yay-team moment.

Even worse from a Liberal standpoint, there has been a decided lack of heat from the usual critics, with the opposition NDP’s Bruce Ralston adopting more of a scoffing, eyes-rolled-to-the-ceiling tone in his comments than the indignant outrage usually reserved for such moments.

When both your supporters and your opponents are barely paying you attention, you’re in a lot of trouble.

Coaches and managers in that position usually end up fired.