Is Bond only halfway through? A fifth term will give longevity
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that Shirley Bond announced last month she is going to seek a fifth consecutive term as MLA. Many were wondering in 2013 whether she was going to run again. Her partner in crime, Pat Bell, had announced he wasn’t going to run and Bond’s husband Bill was having some health issues. Bond, then looked tired and many of us pundits wondered whether she was going to run. She did. And won with sizable majority. Seeing Bond now, she seems invigorated, up to the challenge, and ready for the fight. Bill’s health issues are under control and she’s definitely a part of Christy Clark’s inner circle. She heads up an important portfolio for the Liberals – jobs, and will be tough to beat heading into 2017, if not impossible. Bond has held almost every major portfolio there is, except for finance and premier. She probably doesn’t want finance and Clark isn’t going anywhere, so one might wonder why she wants to run again. Everyone knows she loves being a grandma and spending time with the grandkids. But she also loves the tussle of politics. Bond is almost two different people. Prince George residents mostly see the grandma. Victoria sees a veteran, seasoned politician who won’t be trifled with. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a Shirley Bond tongue- lashing. But, having done it all, why run again. I’m sure she will say there’s work still to be done and she’s the person to do it. I suspect history may have a part to play in her decision as well. She could have retired after serving three terms and gone down in history as a pretty good politician. She’s now got four under her belt and history will remember her is a darn good politician. Win five terms and she moves into some pretty elite territory among British Columbia politicians, especially women. Linda Reid, Mike de Jong, and Rich Coleman are the only other MLAs left from the rookie class of 2001. Clark was there as well, but she opted out for a few
years. I don’t know if Reid, de Jong, and Coleman are running again, but the field of five-timers will be thin. A fifth win would also secure Bond’s place in the provincial history books. Grace McCarthy, the grand dame of the old Social Credit Party served from 1966 to 1988. Bond, if she wins in May and serves out her entire term, would clock in at 20 years in Victoria. W.A.C. Bennett, the revered premier that all current Social Credit/Liberal premiers want to emulate, served just over 20 years in Victoria. Bond would indeed be in august company. However, she’ll have to win a sixth term, and more, to enter the history books on longevity alone. Alex Fraser represented the Cariboo for 20 years (1969-89), Jim Chabot represented the Columbia area for 23 years (1963-86). However, some of the longest serving MLAs, perhaps surprisingly, weren’t Socreds or modern Liberals. Leo Nimsick, who represented the CCF and then the NDP, served the Cranbrook area for 26 years (1949-75). But the grand-daddy of them all was Thomas Uphill (to whom I’m kind of related). He held the Fernie riding for 40 years (1920-60). He was elected as a member of the Federated Labour Party and later the Canadian Labour Party. He also played a key role in the ascendency of W.A.C. Bennett in 1952. When the dust settled on the election, the Socreds had one more seat than the CCF, who wooed Uphill in hopes of creating a tie, even though they had run a candidate against him. Bennett, however, had foreseen the possibility of a tight vote and secured an agreement from Uphill to support the Socreds. The rest is history. Bond has a way to go to catch up to Uphill. Nonetheless, five terms will put her in league with some of the province’s greats. BTW – Thomas Uphill’s son, Vernon, married my father’s cousin. Not a close relationship and while I never knew the senior Uphill, his son was always Uncle Vern to me.