B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s theatrics might explain why female voters don’t like her

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It's no wonder that women are turning away from Christy Clark in droves.

On Tuesday, at the request of Clark, Alberta Premier Alison Redford met with her B.C. counterpart to discuss the Enbridge Gateway pipeline and B.C. conditions for the project moving forward.

According to reports, the meeting ended in about 15 minutes, with both premiers calling their discussions "frosty."

It's clear to anyone who has followed Clark's tumultuous year in office that this was nothing more than political theatre staged by a desperate premier toiling in the polls.

[ Related: Most British Columbians on the fence over Northern Gateway Pipeline ]

Clark called the meeting but offered nothing.

Gary Mason described the Clark's theatrics most eloquently in his column for the Globe and Mail.

"If Ms. Redford is feeling a little used after the pair's 15-minute get-together in Calgary on Monday, few could blame her. After effectively calling for the meeting, Ms. Clark showed up with nothing new to offer. For everything that was accomplished, it could have been handled in a five-minute phone call.

But then, Ms. Clark would not have had the stage that the Calgary meeting presented her...There are some simple politics at play here. The pipeline is not popular in British Columbia; neither is Ms. Clark's government. There is an election in the province in just over seven months' time.

...if she can be seen as a tough negotiator standing up to the petro cowboys next door, this is a good thing."

These are the type of cheap political tactics, however, that are driving B.C. Liberal supporters — especially women — away from the governing party.

Last month, an Ipsos Reid survey concluded that Clark has a gender gap problem: while 40 per cent of men in British Columbia support Clark and the Liberals, only 24 per cent of women do. In other words, more women supported former premier Gordon Campbell than they do Clark.

Vancovuer Sun journalist Vaughn Palmer tried to explain some of  the reasons for the gender gap in his column:

"I've also heard enough to suggest many women have a particular problem with Christy Clark. They don't like her confrontational style, the in-your-face partisanship, especially when it is contrasted to the more conciliatory stance of [NDP opposition leader] Adrian Dix.

Some women see her as a phoney, citing such slogans-without-substance as the families-first agenda. Others see her as arrogant, a me-first politician in a world with too many men who play the game that way."

Certainly, it would be a little disingenuous to assume that a woman would support a female politician just because she is a woman.

[ Related: Christy Clark's chief-of-staff forced to resign over 'inappropriate' incident ]

But as long as Clark continues her antics, like Tuesday's meeting with Redford, she shouldn't be surprised to see women leave her party behind. For that matter, she shouldn't be surprised to be losing her male supporters either.

'Families first?'


For Clark, it seems to be 'Christy-first.'