The first week of the spring legislative sitting was a week from hell for the Liberals, and if this continues, the rumours bubbling beneath the surface will soon boil over publicly.
Some of the whispers seem wild, others quite plausible. When a government is in as much trouble as this one, anything is possible.
To recap, the first week began with the premier opting to read a 10-minute address on CKNW's Bill Good Show and then take questions from the host and listeners for almost 90 minutes.
Her radio stint was quickly forgotten in any event, as other issues rose to the fore. First among them was the puzzling increase in stays of proceedings in our justice system. Even though the crime rate is down and the number of cases going to court is also dropping, the number of stays has increased dramatically.
This gave the NDP the perfect hammer in question period, and it used it to beat the government over the head over two cases. One involved a suspected sexual predator who went free after a 27-month delay, and the other was a suspected drunk driver who had his charge stayed after more than 48 months of delays.
Now, it's not entirely clear what's behind these cases. In the first one, an RCMP investigation of the suspect's home computer took 14 months to complete, which is hardly the government's fault.
In the other, there were a lengthy series of adjournments for no obvious reason. Nothing has surfaced in either case that suggests a lack of government funding or a shortage of judges is the main reasons for the delays.
But in the current political climate, reason doesn't really matter. After being in government for more than 10 years, the Liberals are on the defensive on pretty well every issue and simply don't get the benefit of the doubt.
Next up was a 400-page report by the provincial ombudsman criticizing the government over its handling of seniors care.
The government responded to the 400-page report with a 10-page brochure of its own, filled with vague generalities and a promise to create a seniors' advocate with as-yet undefined powers and duties.
Then the provincial auditor general waded in with a report of his own, this one harshly critical of the government's lack of planning and foresight when it comes to the state of our important tracts of forested land.
The next day, the B.C. Utilities Commission slapped the government again, ruling its phony "deferral" accounting at BC Hydro had to be covered in part by even higher rates.
All of which brings us to the whispered scenarios, rumours and intrigue. It seems only a matter of time before someone organizes a betting pool on who will be the first to bolt the party and sit as an independent.
And if one goes, how many will follow? Keep an eye on Liberal-held ridings that used to fertile turf for the old federal Reform party.
The MLAs from those areas are the most vulnerable to a serious surge in support for the Conservatives, since much of that surge will be felt in their backyards. They are the most likely to bolt the party as the next election draws nearer.
My favourite story making the rounds sees a rump group of Liberals bolting to the Conservatives and turning that party into the so-called free enterprise coalition, abandoning the sinking Liberal ship in the process.
As I said, some of this is plausible, while some seems wild. But we saw governments in this province completely fall apart twice before after a lengthy time in government: the Socreds in 1991 and the NDP in 2001. It could certainly happen again - especially if the week from hell becomes commonplace.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.
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