Not a bad position for Wilkinson

The BC Liberal Party has a new leader, one Andrew Wilkinson, who emerged from the crowded field and snatched victory in five ballots last weekend.

If you haven’t been paying attention, word on the street is that this guy is very smart — scary smart. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study law at Oxford, which they don’t generally hand out to those of below average intelligence, so I’m going to agree. He’s probably very smart.

And I’d like to think that intelligence is one of the first attributes one would want in a politician. Just look at what’s happening in the United States, where intelligence of the candidate was very obviously not a consideration to voters. They chose to go for celebrity and bravado and jingoism and ended up with Donald Trump.

Incidentally, this week the Prez accused the Democrats of treason for not clapping for him at his State of the Union address. Oy.

Trump and his team tried to get around it by saying he was joking about the treason. Nobody believed it. Then it came out — or was leaked — that Trump had ordered the Pentagon to prepare a grand military parade through Washington, DC. It would cost millions, and tear up the DC streets, but it would allow Trump to preen and prance, and look like… well the leader of a banana republic.

Anyhow, the point is we need smart leaders.

You know who came off looking not so smart lately? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Here’s the thing. I do believe Trudeau is not an unintelligent man. But sometimes he he really needs to think before doing. Or speaking.

His latest gaffe is an awfully big one.

It occurred at a town hall meeting in Edmonton and Trudeau was asked by a veteran about why the federal government continued a legal fight against a veterans group who are fighting for a return to pre-2006 pensions. Trudeau had previously promised not to fight veterans in court.

Trudeau tried to explain the government’s position, but as has become something of a habit with him, and his team, it rolled off the tongue poorly.

“Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now,” said the PM. Oy, again. I mean I kind of get what he was trying to say, but he gave his opponents a statement, easily made into a meme, that he is never going to be able to shake.

Veterans asking for more than we can give, when we ask them to give everything, including their lives. Oh my. That’s going to stick. And hurt.

Still in Edmonton, Trudeau also corrected someone who said ‘mankind’, gently suggesting that ‘people kind’ was the more correct term. Oy. Oy. Oy. Now he’s pulled a Trump and said it was a joke. I don’t know that people believe him.

Also this week, in response to B.C. Premier Horgan delaying the Kinder Morgan pipeline project by asking for a further review on catastrophic spills, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley cancelled talks about buying BC electricity, and forbade the sale of BC wine in Alberta.

An inter-provincial trade war is brewing, and that’s not funny, especially for this region which sits right on the border. If resentment of BC grows in Alberta, will they turn in another direction to spend their tourism dollars?

It’s especially interesting to watch as we’re talking about two NDP leaders going at each other. One would assume they’d be natural allies.

Trudeau is going to have to wade into this dispute, and it is going to be a move that risks alienating supporters in either province. He’s going to have to navigate this one very carefully.

Meanwhile, Andrew Wilkinson, if he’s smart, and I have been assured by many that he is, can sit back and watch it all play out. He can point out the hurts dealt to the BC wine industry. He can watch Trudeau take all the flack if he decides to force the pipeline. He can watch the precarious agreement between the Green Party and the NDP teeter and perhaps fail, whilst staying above the fray himself.

Not a bad position for the new guy.

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