It wasn’t surprising that there was far more interest in hearing Christy Clark’s speech at the third in a series of leadership forums sponsored by Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
She spoke on Monday at lunch. Last Monday, NDP leader Adrian Dix spoke, and Conservative leader John Cummins spoke on Friday, March 15.
More than 200 were registered to attend Clark’s speech, and the conservatory area was full. Cummins attracted about 30 and Dix drew just a few more.
After all, Clark is the premier and the subject of most public and media attention these days. This is partly due to her low standing in the polls, and partly due to controversy that has swirled around the BC Liberals over a series of issues.
The attendance was helped by a notice sent out by the BC Liberals, asking their supporters to show up. It also helps that Langley has two Liberal MLAs, both of whom are in cabinet. The backing the Liberals have from most members of both local councils may also be a factor.
Only one local elected official, Langley City Councillor Teri James, showed up at the Dix and Cummins speeches.
The NDP made no attempt to get its supporters to the Dix lunch. I asked board of education chair Wendy Johnson, an NDP member, about the lunch later that day, and she told me she didn’t even know about it.
James, unlike most of her counterparts, has a daytime job. She made the effort to hear what Cummins (who is running in the Langley riding) and Dix, who according to opinion polls is likely to succeed Clark as premier, had to say to Langley audiences.
Both Cummins and Dix spoke on a number of local issues, including TransLink funding, the Port Mann Bridge and the squeeze on municipal budgets.
Langley Township councillors are usually present, with one or two exceptions, at every BC Liberal Party fundraiser in Langley. Several members of City council usually attend as well. City Mayor Peter Fassbender is even running for the Liberals in Surrey-Fleetwood.
I wasn’t too surprised the Fassbender wasn’t at the first two lunches, given his candidacy. The absence of Township Mayor Jack Froese and every other member of his council was more surprising. Township councillors such as Grant Ward and Charlie Fox, both retired, show up at many events of all types.
There was plenty of representation from both councils at the Clark lunch.
Council members have every right to back the BC Liberals, and given the party’s dominance in Langley over the years, it’s not surprising that most do so. However, if there is a change of government, Langley may well be out of the loop much more than in the past.
For example, how likely is it that funds for a project like the Events Centre would happen if the NDP or Conservatives formed government, and no one from Township council even bothered to show up when party leaders speak here? Part of a politician’s role is showing up at events — even the tougher ones.