Sometimes the checks and balances in the democratic process work.
This past week the recall campaign to oust Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard T. Lee fizzled out.
Organizers blamed the short time span required to collect signatures – 60 days, and “voter apathy.” Granted, the requirements to get a recall action moving are not easy. Canvassers must get 40 per cent of registered voters to say yes to the recall within the two-month span, which would be about 16,500 signatures in Lee’s riding.
But that is as it should be.
This recall movement directed at Lee was nakedly partisan. Lee’s failures, in the organizers minds, were really the failures of Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals. Lee, if he’s guilty of anything, is of being a “good soldier” in her army. Around Burnaby he’s known as an MLA who is approachable and pretty much at every shindig and awards ceremony he’s invited to in the city. Contrast that with some previous Liberal MLAs – Harry Bloy comes to mind – and you get the picture.
Now, some might say that the whole recall campaign was just a way of gathering voter data as a precursor to the next election. In fact, the organizers said they were not releasing the number of signatures they gathered for “strategic purposes” and to avoid tipping off the Liberal camp.
Frankly, if that was the purpose, organizers will have to share the blame for “voter apathy.” Such deceptive tactics only fuel voter apathy and cynicism. Most voters aren’t stupid and they don’t like unfairness or hitting below the belt. Targeting Lee with recall action based on provincial Liberal policies might even gain Lee some new support.
What organizers did find out – and reveal – not surprisingly, was that voters were concerned about Burnaby Hospital. The lack of funding and concrete future plans for the hospital should concern all of us. And Lee bears responsibility for not being a champion for this hospital and for participating in past sham political sideshows on upgrading the hospital.
Does that merit recall? We don’t think so. But it should make voters pause and consider exactly why they would vote for him in the next election.