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A colourful cult of characters

It’s often said there is a touch of madness inherent in B.C. politics.

It’s often said there is a touch of madness inherent in B.C. politics.

It goes all the way back to Amor de Cosmos, who was elected the second premier of British Columbia 138 years ago, and was eventually declared mad.

It’s not every jurisdiction that has a wing nut for a founding father, but by all accounts de Cosmos qualified. He was given to public outbursts of tears, feared electricity and, in 1895, was declared insane.

His real name was Bill Smith, but Lover of the Cosmos is just that much wing-nuttier.

Bill/Amor set the tone for B.C. politics, and ever since we’ve been guided or misguided by a cult of characters, from Flying Phil Gaglardi, the highways minister with a penchant for speeding tickets, to our current Bill, Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm joined the Friends of Amor de Cosmos when he floated an ersatz castle down the Fraser River and set it up near Highway 99 as the centrepiece for Fantasy Gardens. And as with Amor de Cosmos, his term as premier ended in disgrace.

But it doesn’t seem to matter. Bill is back, harassing Liberals as if he never left. Singlehandedly, he has forced Gordon Campbell to call a referendum on the HST, something Campbell never wanted to do. Maybe he was hoping he could break an election promise, impose the HST, and have four years to put the sheep back to sleep before he had to go to the polls again.

But nope. Wild Bill rode in from the tulip patch and rode that varmint Campbell down. A completely rational individual would now sweep off his Stetson, take a bow and ride into the sunset, tattered reputation restored.

It looks, however, as if Wild Bill has a touch of the B.C. barking disease. Now he’s planning on mobilizing his posse to run down and recall 19 B.C. MLAs for the great crime of trying to support their leader’s stupid tax tricks.

Bill’s timing (at least) is a bit off. Everyone is focused on the HST referendum, which will happen a year from now, or sooner. No one wants to watch Vander Zalm lynch poor defenceless backbenchers. It’s pointless, almost unseemly.

Let’s give the old warrior this: It’s hard to give up the spotlight once you’ve got it back.

But how long before the posse gets saddle sores and heads for the saloon? All that recallin’s just plumb hard work. So Bill, maybe you should just get up on that old hobby horse and ride on.

Alone.

 
 
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