A crack in the crystal ball

gerald“Dogs know what to do with polls.” John Diefenbaker being punny.

The only groups feeling worse than the NDP in the wake of the surprising Liberal election win must be all the pundits and pollsters. All their indicators and surveys showed there was to be a major change in the electoral makeup here in B.C. When the major upsets of 2013 are rounded up, this result will rank up there with the Boston Bruins’ improbable come from behind to beat Toronto in the NHL playoffs.

As Yogi Berra once remarked, “That’s the trouble with the future. It’s so hard to predict.” Along with Churchill’s, “Lies, more lies and damn statistics” regarding his troubles with a fickle electorate back in the day, one must feel a sense of schadenfreude whenever some top dog gets taken out.

In the late ‘80s when the Berlin Wall was coming down, the East German secret police, the Stasi as they were known, were caught completely flat-footed by the fast turning events partly because they had so many people keeping tabs on so many others that the information, rather than being useful, became an avalanche that effectively buried any chance of action. It might be a stretch to compare politics in B.C. with the fall of the Soviet Empire but they meet common ground when having too much information clouds decision making.

“Not seeing the forest for all the trees” is another old cliché that’s ringing true post-election. Had anyone predicted 10 years ago that on any street in Canada people wouldn’t be walking and talking with each other, but rather twiddling their thumbs on some kind of device, they would’ve been viewed as some kind of nut rather than a far-seer.

While losing her own seat must be the fly in the ointment for Christy Clark, she knows that she can parachute into a safe riding in the next by-election and continue being the Queen Bee in B.C. for four more years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that in the rest of Canada, and indeed the world, we’re governed by some of the “least worst” politicians. Most people in our province are fortunate enough to be doing reasonably well. Rocking the boat was not the electorate’s mission this time. With winning comes a natural sense of entitlement; a feeling of, “We know best what is good for you,” and the inevitable arrogance will fill column inches for the next four years while the governing party copes with keeping the ship of state on a relatively even keel.

The ugly part of the campaign — the attack ads worked. While the NDP were commending themselves on a clean, well-mannered approach, they were lulled by their own pacifism into thinking that politics is fair. Like life, it often isn’t. The bigger implication for the party is that the B.C. election was supposed to auger in a sea of change for them nationally while planning to defeat the fumbling Harper regime. It’s back to the drawing board.

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