It was standing room only at Wednesday night’s recall campaign rally aimed at unseating Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake.
Not because of a big crowd; because there were no chairs.
The chairs, and a phone line, were scheduled to arrive at the recall headquarters on Tranquille Road next day. Meanwhile, three dozen people, including a couple of reporters and the guest of honour — former premier Bill Vander Zalm — stood around in the bare-bones room and talked about the hated HST.
The small group was definitely scaled toward an older demographic, reflecting, perhaps, that seniors are most offended by the tax.
Lake himself was scarcely mentioned by name, an odd thing considering he’s the focus of this soon-to-be launched recall campaign. Well, maybe not so odd, since this is all about the HST — Lake’s solitary sin being that he supports the tax.
And, Lake himself wasn’t there, but nobody expected him to be. In fact, he won’t even be anywhere near the country for part of the recall effort, instead jetting off to an overseas vacation.
Some people think that’s foolish, given that his political career is on the line. Others figure it’s a cool way to thumb his nose at the whole thing.
No matter. They were there for Vander Zalm and the cause. “Rally” seems a bit of an over-statement, given the small numbers, the venue and the largely subdued demeanor of the group.
But one shouldn’t under-estimate either their determination nor their capability of achieving success. Assurances were offered that more would have showed had it not been for poor weather and the Blazers.
Organizer Chad Moats was hoping for a hundred, and he’ll need 300 to canvass neighbourhoods, work phone banks and take walk-in petition signatures.
He remains confident he’ll get them.
Vander Zalm gave the troops reason to be optimistic, sounding very much as he did in the old days when he was premier, his accented voice resonating in the room, offering assurances that the fight against the HST will change the way we’re governed.
He and fellow anti-HST petition organizer Chris Delaney, who braved yesterday’s Coquihalla snow storm with Vander Zalm to get here for the event, drew a line between corporate British Columbia and what they called “the average shopper.”
It’s a strategy of division, really, but it’s a fair and simple representation of where the battle lines are drawn in this fight. The HST is good for business, but bad for consumers. That’s the message that will be carried into the recall campaign.
One of those listening in agreement with their message was Denise Powers, a retired business owner and former president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.
I asked her later if she saw an anomaly between her business experience and her involvement in the anti-HST movement.
No, she said, not at all. “It’s the lies” that have been told by the B.C. Liberals about the tax that motivate her.
And that effectively sums up the other reason the HST is so loathed — distrust of politicians, especially politicians belonging to the Liberal party.
And Terry Lake happens to be one of them. And that’s why he faces the distressing prospect of being the first MLA in B.C. ever to be fired by voters between elections.
IT’S A PARTY, or should be, according to one man at the town hall, who asked a semi-rhetorical question to Vander Zalm. Isn’t there some new party we could all trust, he asked. To which Vander Zalm turned to Delaney and asked if it was okay to mention B.C. First, the upstart party headed up by Delaney himself. To his credit, Delaney passed on the opportunity to give the new party a plug, choosing to stick to the HST/recall agenda of the meeting.