Wilkinson gives NDP ‘yachts’ of ammo in class warfare optics

VICTORIA — When NDP activists first saw the headline this week, they couldn’t believe their good fortune.

“Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson pans speculation tax at West Vancouver yacht club chat,” reported the North Shore News Thursday atop a report on his speech to the local chamber of commerce.

An Opposition leader who the populist-led New Democrats have framed as an elitist. Who played into the stereotype with a comment on the “wacky fun” of renting, which he later had to repudiate.

Now he chooses to deliver a speech on the admittedly half-baked speculation tax at the yacht club in West Vancouver of all places?

“Surprisingly, this isn’t satire written by me,” wrote Jeffrey Ferrier, a self-styled “progressive” and one of several who posted the story on Twitter.

“Wow,” returned Global TV correspondent Keith Baldrey, himself a columnist in the North Shore News. “Does no one do advance work for the Libs any more? A yacht club — especially the West Van one — is the last place a politician with an elitist image problem should go anywhere near.”

Stung, members of the Opposition caucus rode to Wilkinson’s defence.

“But this was a local chamber of commerce event,” protested former cabinet minister Rich Coleman. “When my chamber invites me I don’t tell them where to hold it. It is important to respect local volunteer groups, it is their decision.”

“Come on, Keith,” tweeted Michelle Stilwell, another former cabinet minister. “Why not focus on the issue of a half-baked speculation tax that doesn’t actually target speculators but makes 1.4 million British Columbians prove themselves otherwise?”

Picking up on the what-about-ism theme was former minister Shirley Bond: “How about when John Horgan calls (Liberal MLA) Jackie Tegart a ‘whiner’ for representing constituents and a bill introduced by (Liberal) Stephanie Cadieux is a ‘political stunt’? No comment???”

But as experienced politicians know — or should know — telling a reporter that he/she should be writing about something other than what he/she is writing about is not a proven media management strategy.

“The physical location/backdrop of a political leader’s appearance during an election campaign is chosen with deliberate, strategic care,” wrote Baldrey by way of reply to several Liberals. “That’s because they matter when it comes to shaping messages and image.”

Yet from this case and others, it would appear the Liberals can’t be bothered with optics, making it easier for opponents to define Wilkinson.

Before long, the exchange veered into ridicule.

When I wrote of the Liberals that …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics

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