LIBERAL PARTY’S TREATMENT OF MLA SLATER IS SHADY AND SHABBY
Politics is often seen by the public as a sleazy business, and the events surrounding the nomination of a B.C. Liberal candidate in Boundary-Similkameen do nothing to dispel that perception.
MLA John Slater is the incumbent, and in September, after some reflection, he announced that he would run again and he submitted his nomination papers.
Normally, unless an incumbent has performed exceptionally badly, their re-nomination is not an issue.
Sometimes a governing party wishing to clear the way for a star candidate may offer an incumbent an attractive position as an incentive to step aside. This often backfires, however, and feeds public cynicism.
In Slater’s case, the party has simply chosen to leave him in the dark while putting out feelers to former Oliver mayor Linda Larson as a potential candidate. When Slater learned about this in the media and tried to find out what was going on, party officials didn’t return his calls.
It’s understandable that the B.C. Liberals are worried about their chances here in the coming spring provincial election. In 2009, Slater won by a mere 813 votes, and provincially the party faces a huge challenge.
But to go behind Slater’s back, trying to line up a new candidate, while keeping Slater in the dark is shady, shabby and only feeds the public perception of politics as sleazy business.
Slater is too much of a gentleman to whine about this shabby treatment, and when asked his plans, he says he’ll do what’s in the best interests of the party.
Translation: If asked, he may gracefully step aside.
For her part, Larson is also trying to take the high road, praising Slater, underlining their friendship, and saying she’ll wait for Slater to announce his intentions. Through its messy handling of the situation, however, the party hasn’t done her any favours.
In his one term as MLA, Slater has by most accounts been effective and has not given his party any reason to push him aside. Drawing on his years of municipal experience, he has sought to provide strong representation for the interests of the entire region.
His candid initial musings about whether or not he planned to run again may have been unwise, but shouldn’t have disqualified him from making the decision on his own time.
Currently the party is being tight lipped about developments since Slater filed his nomination papers in September, but they have confirmed there are no plans for a nomination here, even though most other nominations in the province have moved forward.
In the absence of any compelling reason to push Slater aside, he should be allowed to make his own decision.
Most importantly, he deserves better than to have decisions about his future made behind his back.
It’s events like this that feed the public’s cynicism about politics, and may ultimately backfire on the B.C. Liberals.