THE BLOG

The B.C. Election: The Pitfalls of Flip-Flopping

06/11/2013 02:31 EDT | Updated 08/08/2013 05:12 EDT

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark will join her Liberal colleagues in the legislature through a by-election in Westside-Kelowna after Cabinet minister Ben Stewart agreed to step aside for the Premier.

Having lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP's David Eby in the May 14 election, the Liberals deemed Westside-Kelowna a safe bet for the Premier given Stewart's 58% of the vote.

Numerous pollsters predicted Adrian Dix leading the BC NDP into government last May. New Democrats clutched to false polls hoping that a win in B.C would show the country that they can be trusted to govern. However, in 2012, pollsters also predicted a Parti Quebecois majority and total eradication of the Progressive Conservatives' 40 year rule in Alberta by the Wildrose Alliance.

Turns out that British Columbians weren't quite up to trusting Dix with government, electing 50 Liberals to the NDP's 33 and true to form for current pollsters, created a trifecta of failed majority polling predictions.

The BC NDP, having ruled out going negative before the election even started, hoped that running a positive campaign would better appeal to British Columbians. The NDP is of the same mind of those who state that negative advertising has no effect on their opinions or how they vote.

Here Warren Kinsella's oft-repeated maxim rings true.

In Kinsella's latest book he states that what is true of car crashes is true of political life. When polled, voters will insist they hate negative ads. But when they thinking no one is looking they will slow down, take a look, and remember what they see.

Voters saw a lot with Adrian Dix.

Dix changed his stance on the Kinder Morgan pipeline that would carry crude oil from Alberta to the Lower Mainland for export to Asia.

Dix stated he would wait until Kinder Morgan submitted a formal proposal before making a decision on the pipeline then changed his position in the first week of the election, opposing the pipeline expansion.

Witness the hydroplaning NDP.

This was more than enough material for the BC Liberals. In the last days of the election the Liberals released an ad featuring the NDP leader's head spinning on a weathervane.

Cloudy background, storm a-brewing, ominously creaky weathervane, the ad provides a simple visual for the viewer. Without a word being spoken the message is clear. You do not know where Dix stands.

The ad closes with the text "Adrian Dix? Weak Leadership. Weak Economy." Dix's flip-flopping on Kinder Morgan made this ad possible and any political party pledging to not "go negative" should take heed.

If you're explaining, you're losing. But Dix didn't even bother to respond, rendering himself an uncertainty to British Columbians.

And no one votes for uncertainty.