Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge – June 6th

It sort of reminds me of the line from Alice in Wonderland about, “It gets curiouser and curiouser.”Just when we thought the never ending wondrous world of B.C. politics could not get any more bizarre – the Liberal Government pulls another rabbit out of the proverbial political hat.Kelowna Westside re-elected Liberal MLA Ben Stewart has offered up his hard-earned seat at the Big House in Victoria so that reigning Premier Christy Clark (who did not win her own riding) can run here in the by-election and hopefully secure herself a front-row spot in the legislative assembly.Whoda thunk?A few weeks back I suggested that the possibility existed that political climber and self-absorbed Mayor Dan Ashton would give up his provincial party seat won in the recent election, therefore maintaining his status in Penticton, not ticking off the voters in that community, and earn big points for political favours down the road. But that didn’t happen.I also suggested that perhaps Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick might perform the honourable self-sacrifice and offer up his spot. Apparently he did, along with Kelowna Mission MLA Steve Thompson (a gem of a fellow); however at the end of the day Christy chose Ben’s head for the loping.Hmm?To quote an old Star Trek star, “Is that weird, or what?”Of course, from a straight strategic perspective it makes logical sense that Christy would seek a seat that is pretty much a slam-dunk to win.  The Liberals cannot afford another embarrassment at the polls and so picking a spot in the sunny Socred birthplace such as Kelowna makes sense. I just never considered Ben as the option.I like Ben.I may not be keen on his leader, but Ben is a good man from a good Okanagan family and has served our city well. I have no doubts there is much more to this whole saga then we will ever know and Ben being the calm, cool, and calculated character he is will never let us be the wiser. Rest assured Ben will be taken care of despite his ‘heroic’ sacrifice as Christy referred to.Of course well-known political columnist Alex Tsakumis had this entire scenario nailed a few days ago when he first suggested the ‘Ben for Christy’ ploy was in play. Alex told any reader who checked out his inky thoughts, “You heard it here first. Christy Clark’s negatives are so strong in almost every single last one of the safest BC Liberal ridings in the province, her people have been forced to approach Westside – Kelowna MLA, and all round good guy, Ben Stewart, to step aside for the good of the premier. Clark, I’m told, will run in a by-election in Kelowna and may even have plans to move there…”So here we are. Once again it seems Kelowna is destined to play home and host to a B.C. ‘right wing’ Premier – whether we want to or not. Christy will never gain the adoration of locals such as W.A.C. Bennett did or even that of his son and Premier Bill Bennett. The only question for me is, if Christy wins will she hold an annual garden party in town like Wacky did and will I be invited?Of course there is the absolute long shot that protest voters angered with a by-election will rally enforce and defeat Christy yet again. NDP candidate Carolyn Gordon is apparently running once more and according to Conservative sources they are also planning on parachuting a ‘strong’ candidate into the by-election brawl. (‘Strong’ rules out John Cummins of course).Regardless, the odds are good that when the dust (or whatever that material is blowing during the by-election) settles Christy will have finally ‘earned’ her spot in the Big Chair at the Big House.And that, of course, only means a field day for media headline writers. I can see it now …’K-Town Christy Rides Again’ or ‘Christy Captures K-Town’…Only in B.C. you say?Some things never change.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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