Langley’s two MLAs are readying for new roles in opposition, in the wake of the NDP-Green government and B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark’s stepping down.
Neither Langley MLA Mary Polak nor Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman will be running for the now-vacant leadership spot.
“I came to the conclusion that it was not a job I ever wanted,” said Polak, a longtime cabinet minister.
Having seen her friends Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark take it on, she said that while it can be fulfilling, the job can also be a thankless one.
Coleman has already said he doesn’t want the job – he turned down the chance to run for the leadership in 2010 – and has been named interim caucus chair. He’ll be the leader of the Liberals in the B.C. Legislature until the party chooses a new leader, sometime in the next year.
Coleman said he knows that Clark wanted to concentrate on her family after the recent election loss, which resulted in the slim NDP and Green victory.
Polak talked about the “tremendous turnaround” the party made under Clark’s leadership.
“She led the party to a polce where we won a victory nobody expected,” Polak said.
Prior to the 2013 election, most polls showed the NDP in the lead, but the Liberals won another majority.
Polak pointed to B.C. strong financial position and job growth as Clark’s legacy from her time in office.
She was shocked and saddened by the news that Clark was stepping down, she said.
Polak said Coleman is taking on a big job.
“We have a very immediate task in front of us,” she said. “That is, we have to be ready to sit in opposition.”
It will be the first time the Liberals have been on the opposition benches in 16 years.
“He [Coleman] is one of the few that has ever been in opposition,” Polak said.
Coleman said he’s already been busy setting up the official opposition, hiring and organizing staff and getting them ready.
He expects that critic roles for various Liberal MLAs will be handed out by as soon as Thursday, and no later than a week to 10 days from now.
Over the summer, there will be a session to help the new critics build up their roles and expertise before the legislative session begins in the fall.
Coleman said it will be a very different group than when he was first in opposition in the late 1990s.
“I think the biggest thing is knowledge,” he said.
In 1996 only a few Liberal MLAs had even been elected before. Now most of the Liberal caucus has served in government for years, and knows very well how the Legislature and ministries operate.
He expects they’ll be up to speed quickly.
Asked if she would like a particular critic role, Polak said “I will leave that to Rich and his wisdom.”