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Les Leyne: Premier's comments make things clear

Sep 20 2012

As a long-time bed-blocker in the legislature asylum, I've pretty much given up on waiting for the stupid doctors to figure out what's wrong with me.

The nurses on the ward are really nice. The orderlies are always joking around. I get along well with most of the other patients. So it's a matter of just enjoying the stay, while they decide which drug to try next.

But Premier Christy Clark has just destroyed my treatment plan. She came up with a diagnosis that turns my whole experience upside down.

It's not me that's sick. It's the culture!

This is the kind of miraculous cure I've been waiting through nine premiers to hear.

Her paradigm-shifting declaration came in complicated circumstances. But all the great medical breakthroughs happen like that.

She gave a 40-minute interview to the National Post's Brian Hutchinson last May as the legislature was nearing adjournment.

As they were concluding the interview session, she delivered the following observation.

"When the house rises - you're never going to find me in Victoria. I'm going to be travelling the province for the next year. I try never to go over there. Because it's sick. It's a sick culture. All they can think about is government and there are no real people in Victoria, and you get captured by this inside-the-beltway debate, and it's really unhealthy."

It didn't get published until last month and was referred to again in print this week, when it really took off. Some people think she just Romneyed the next election as far the capital is concerned. (To "Romney" is to speak from the heart during an unguarded moment and say something so fantastically stupid that it winds up destroying your campaign.)

But I'm just happy to hear it's not me with the problem. It's this "sick culture" they committed me to when they made me sign the admission form. Imagine a legislature where all they can think about is government! That's disgusting. No wonder I'm first in line when they hand out the meds each morning.

And the idea that "there are no real people in Victoria" came as a revelation to me. All that time spent talking to people I now find out were imaginary. I can't wait to tell Vaughn Palmer - if he really exists.

All premiers peddle the line at some point that it's time to get out of the bubble and meet the real people. And the idea always dawns after they get sick and tired of losing arguments in the legislature.

Clark made the diagnosis in May, but it became public in September, just after she opted not to have a fall sitting. So many suspect her of thinking that the most unhealthy part of this sick culture is the idea of being publicly accountable once in a while.

Politically, it may look like a remarkably clumsy way to deliver a trite cliché, particularly for a politician who's been talking for years about how much she loves the cut and thrust of legislative debate.

But medically, this revelation is a breakthrough. I can't wait to share it in group.

Just So You Know: On the topic of mental health, B.C. Conservatives will hold their own group encounter session this weekend in Langley. It's shaping up to be a very complicated affair.

The Friends of John Cummins appear to be holding sway. But a counter-movement called Friends of the B.C. Conservative Party is mounting a campaign for control of the executive.

It's not clear if you can be a "friend" of both Cummins and the party, but the sniping between the two sides makes it look unlikely.

One particularly confusing point is the role their only MLA - John van Dongen - is playing. He and Cummins stopped getting along earlier this summer. So at this point, if you go through the agenda and try to find the spot where he will address the party, you will search in vain. Cummins will speak Saturday and the "special guest speaker" on Friday is from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Just about any party in the free world that has just one elected representative would invite him to speak at its convention.

But the B.C. Conservatives - as they've made clear time and again - do things differently.

lleyne@timescolonist.com

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