Celebrating the best and the best of the worst in B.C.’s Question Period.
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN INSPIRATION
Like thousands of others, I was a fan of the late Jason Botchford, who made Canucks’ postgame coverage something special. His columns – where he handed out Provies and Athletties (fake awards for various things) – were must-read material for fans, and an entire online community sprung up around Botch and his columns. When Botch joined Jeff Paterson to launch the 1040 Patcast, ICBA jumped in as the show’s first sponsor – we wanted to be a little part of something special.
Over the years reading the Provies/Athletties, I had often wondered if a similar format could be applied to B.C. politics. Could you hand out “awards” or superlatives for what happens in our great bloodsport?
When Botch passed away suddenly over the summer, those of us who were fans pondered what we could do to honour him. We gave to his family, we funded a bench, we used his slogans, we stayed subscribed to The Athletic, and we will no doubt do more.
But for many, the best way to honour Jason was to pick up the keyboard and write, or a mic and podcast. To find a way to fill just a little of the huge gap he left behind when we lost his infectious personality, irascible charm, sharp criticism, incredible wit, and unbelievable writing skills.
For me, it was a kick in the pants to try to apply that lens to B.C. politics. It may suck (it will likely suck!), or it may work. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. So here goes.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the QPees.
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN OH-WAIT-THIS-IS-SERIOUS
On Monday (and Tuesday and part of Wednesday), the NDP Government took a beating over the sudden resignation (and police investigation) of Jinny Sims. But operating on the premise that the worst day in government is better than the best day in opposition, Katrina Chen seemed just fine:
It didn’t last. As Premier John Horgan launched his defence of Sims, Chen realized this was actually pretty serious:
So did her neighbours in the Ledge.
Haven’t seen such grim faces since I ran into some young drivers at the local ICBC Autoplan office.
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN THIS-MAY-NOT-AGE-WELL
When a politician is under investigation, it is the Opposition’s role to ask why – and it’s the Government’s tradition to say, “Sorry – we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation… before the courts… yadda yadda.” Horgan and David Eby (scrupulously obeying the Ledge dress code by leaving his hot yoga pants at home) forgot that this week. As Les Leyne wrote:
If the police do find something on this Simmigration Scandal (as the QPees judges panel has determined it should be called) or anything else on Sims, you can bet Horgan’s comments this week will haunt him.
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN THROWBACKARY
On Wednesday, Hulk Horgan made a rare re-appearance, as the premier spent much of QP yelling at the Opposition. Horganworld has worked oh-so-hard to cultivate the Happy Horgan persona with the media – so hard they sometimes forget what a wicked temper the Premier has.
But there’s just something about Andrew Wilkinson that grates on Happy Horgan. And by Wednesday, he was Hulking up.
Vaughn Palmer noted Hulk Horgan’s return:
You can bet Horganworld is trying everything to calm the boss back down. They know the formula: Angry John = Highhanded Horgan = NDP back in their natural habitat of Opposition.
On Thursday, Horgan tried a different tack. After bellowing over all the heckles all week, he just meekly sat down at the first catcalls over a forestry question. It seems he’ll fight through the noise to defend Simmigration and Meggs, but not so much forestry. Speaker Plecas let him take a powder, reinforcing his own ridiculous record of rigged refereeing:
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN BUBBLELAND
Took the BC Liberals long enough. Two-plus days on Simmigration. Half a day on the Mighty Meggs Magical Shrederator. Another half-day on FOI. Yes, these are important issues when it comes to chipping away at Horgan’s credibility. And some BC Liberal punches landed, while others missed. That’s life in QP.
And that’s life in the Victoria bubble. Out here in Suburbia, all the talk is ICBC. Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, they’re worried about ICBC rate hikes. Some people have already renewed—and are telling everyone how much more they paid. Others are asking—wondering what’s coming. How do we go four full days without an ICBC question from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition?
The Liberals did get around to both forestry and Port Moody’s accused mayor in the last half of Thursday’s QP. But Horgan landed a punch asking what took them so long. Mike de Jong (who seems to have morphed into the Gandalf-like veteran wizard in Lib-land) had the correct heckle back: quit having so many scandals that we don’t have time to talk about everything else, but it was a little late…
If you’re looking to rip a QP from the headlines, how about pushing the Premier on Vaughn Palmer’s Teal Jones story? Especially given its layoffs in the almighty Surrey swing ridings? Or needling the government on the gathering economic storm and downgraded growth?
There are 16 QPs left in this session; the Liberals need to push in on the things that matter beyond the bubble (The Press Gallery is more than capable of handling the bubble issues just fine).
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN IRONY
Can the QPees win a QPee? Yes.
A column dedicated to B.C. Legislature Question Period, which will mainly be read by people in the Leg bubble, complaining about said bubble? It’s like raaaaaaaaain on your wedding day, a freeeeeeee ride when you’ve already paid, it’s some good advice you just can’t take, and who would have thought? It figures…
Ironing: what The Good Doctor Andrew Weaver needs to do to his Hawaiian shirts.
Irony: The QPees
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN EXAGGERATION
David Eby downward-dogging debate by comparing questions in the Legislature about Simmigration to Pizzagate. Namaste away from that kind of nonsense, Dave. It gives me the #EbyJeebies.
THE QPEE FOR EXCELLENCE IN LOCALVORE-ISM
While the Liberals hammered away at the NDP for two-and-a-half days on Simmigration and then a half-day on Geoff Meggs’ shredding habits, the Greens had an opportunity to grab a broad public issue like ICBC rate hikes and make it their own. They made a half-hearted attempt on Monday, with some teachers watching from the gallery, to annoy Education Minister Rob Fleming on the BCTF negotiations, even landing a punch:
“My colleagues and I have been hearing from teachers every day that negotiating with this government is feeling a lot like negotiating with the previous government.”
Condemnin’ Fleming by lumping him in with the last guy to negotiate with the BCTF, Peter Fassbender? That’s a real shot to the Flemingos, especially from the tiny caucus that keeps him in government.
But instead of doubling down on that line of questioning (which might have, Heaven forbid, moved some teacher votes to their cause) on Tuesday and Wednesday, potential Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau instead went uber-local (sorry, no Uber allowed there – I meant hyper-local), asking about her signature-but-not-applicable-anywhere-else issue: environmental concerns around Shawnigan Lake. Important to her constituents, sure, but worthy of fully half the Greens’ question time this week?
It lends credibility to the theory that what makes Furstenau nauseous these days is her re-election chances. South Island folks say she’s in very tough to win a second term, so she’s pushing her most local of local issues.
When you’re the third party, and all you’ve managed to use your clout for is a single passed bill in two-plus years, it makes for mighty thin re-election brochures. It’s also tough to lead a party when the faithful thinks you’re in tough to win your own riding.
Jordan Bateman has a long history of public policy work, championing small business and fiscal responsibility. Currently the Vice President, Communications & Marketing for the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA), Jordan also served six years as the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and was a two-term Langley Township Councillor.