EDITORIAL: Public misjudged by recall group

With less than two weeks to go in what has been a tough battle for them, campaigners for the recall Ida Chong campaign remain publicly optimistic, stating in essence, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Having failed to accomplish their 2,000 signatures a week goal to date – last week they reached the 8,000 mark, well short of the 15,368 signatures needed by the Feb. 4 deadline – it’s clear voters in Oak Bay-Gordon Head have little appetite for participating in democracy in this way.

Yes, we acknowledge the Fight HST campaign to oust a hard-working, forthright MLA and cabinet minister is, under B.C.’s current legislation, a democratic protest action. And that a number of people in the riding are indeed angry with Chong, the Liberals, the HST or any combination of those.

We remain strongly opposed to using the Recall and Initiative Act to target individual MLAs as a way of getting back at the government. But we’ve certainly been interested to watch democracy in action.

We’ve heard canvassers are working as hard as they can to get to as many doors as possible. The assumption there is if they could just broaden their reach, they’d get more signatures and thus gain critical momentum.

Such logic is as flawed as the use of the act for this reason. If people who haven’t yet been contacted by now felt strongly enough about signing, we believe they’d be smart enough to find a way to get their name on the list.

If the recall campaign ultimately fails to secure enough signatures to force a byelection in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, will it be the result of Fight HST supporters grossly misjudging the mood of voters – even in a riding where Chong barely beat her NDP rival in 2009 and where Liberal popularity is low? Or that the campaign was too poorly organized or supported to succeed?

Both are likely correct, if not resoundingly, then partially. As many of the residents canvassed have likely stated, we’re patient enough to wait until this fall’s referendum to cast a directly meaningful vote on the HST.