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Liberals sorely lacking accountability

Premier Christy Clark and her hand-picked minister Harry Bloy need to shape

The morning after a close call with the electorate in Vancouver-Point Grey, one might have expected Premier Christy Clark to adopt a reflective tone in her first meeting with the legislative press gallery.

Not in the least. "Are you kidding me?" she replied when asked whether the slim margin of victory would give pause to her oft-mentioned plans for an early election. "I'm delighted with the result."

As if eking out a three-percentagepoint, 500-vote win was so much more satisfying than those vulgar exercises in electoral overreaching where you hand your opponent his head on a platter.

The triumphal tone extended to a discussion of possible errors in the campaign. Even when you win, the post-mortem will turn up 10 things you'd do differently next time, she assured reporters.

Could she mention even one in this instance? Nope. She and her staff had not discussed it yet.

Might the do-it-differently-nexttime aspects include her refusal to attend all-candidates' meetings? No, again. If the non-attendance issue was the best the New Democrats could do, well better that than a policy issue, she as much said.

Would she be going negative next time? Negative? the premier returned. The New Democrats had gone around the riding telling seniors she'd get rid of medicare, which was both negative and untrue.

The clear implication was that her party's last-minute attacks on her NDP rival David Eby -a brochure distributed in the closing days accused him of supporting polygamy, pornography and hard drugs -were acceptably true.

And so on through "we held our vote," "we broke the 30-year byelection jinx" and other blithe dismissals of any and all cause for concern.

The cheery tone continued even as she advised reporters that having won a famous victory in Point Grey, she might discard the riding for more promising pickings at the next general election.

On to the next campaign, in other words, which is emerging as a serious problem for the Clark administration. So intent is the premier on securing a four-year mandate of her own, she's not focused her attention on the more serious business of running a government and making public policy more lasting than a spate of campaign stunts. (Waitressing, anyone?) The lack of a firm hand at the top has been on display in the legislature all week, during debate on the spending estimates for Minister of Social Development Harry Bloy.

He got the job, as everyone knows, by being the lone member of caucus to support Clark for the leadership. But in the two months since assuming the post, he's not shown much inclination to prove he belongs at the cabinet table by learning on the job.

His apparent inability to grasp even the basics has been evident during debate on the $2.3-billion budget for the ministry, third largest in government.

Bloy has been forced to consult his staff at length before answering the simplest questions. Often his deputy minister had to write out the answer in longhand so Bloy can repeat it verbatim to the house.

Bloy's serial display of ineptitude reached its nadir on Wednesday afternoon. The New Democrats asked how much it was costing his ministry to meet the demand for services for adults with developmental disabilities, a particular concern because funding has not kept pace with the swelling ranks.