So B.C. Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger is packing it in (well, eventually) and is taking his boombox voice out of the legislature for good come the next election. And just days ago, fellow Liberal Kash Heed announced he is doing the same.
But they won't be the only high-profile MLAs to call it quits by then, and announce they won't be running in the next election.
As the re-election prospects for the B.C. Liberal government look increasingly dim, expect a number of others to opt out of running for what may likely be a seat in Opposition. I suspect any veterans of a provincial government cabinet would dread the idea of sitting in Opposition, of going from wielding genuine political power to having none.
The ministers on most observers' most-likely-to-go lists include Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, Education Minister George Abbott and Energy Minister Rich Coleman. All are veterans, all have been in cabinet a long time, and they surely must dread the idea of sitting across from a government, rather than being part of it.
Falcon also has a very young family, which must be a huge factor as he weighs his political future.
Rumors abound that Coleman is fishing for a seat in the federal Senate, and Abbott will have served more than 15 years as an MLA by the time the next election rolls around.
Many have speculated that Falcon may leave politics for a few years, only to return down the road to lead a new free-enterprise coalition party that emerges from the rubble that may be the B.C. Liberal party after the May 2013 election.
If people like Falcon, Abbott and Coleman do indeed throw in the towel, it will present an interesting challenge for Premier Christy Clark. Traditionally, a premier will remove from cabinet any minister who isn't seeking re-election.
However, I don't think she can afford to lose ministers of this stature. Falcon will most assuredly remain as finance minister, to allow him to bring in the important pre-election budget.
Coleman has a lot of responsibilities (including being house leader), and it's hard to see anyone from the backbench filling his shoes, while Abbott's steady hand is needed in cabinet.
Other B.C. Liberals who may be rethinking their political futures likely include current Children and Families Minister Mary McNeil, former cabinet ministers Colin Hansen, Randy Hawes, Moira Stilwell, Bill Barisoff and Murray Coell (MLA Harry Bloy has already announced he won't be seeking re-election).
If departures of this scale do indeed occur, it may allow Clark to argue her party has changed significantly from the Gordon Campbell era, but I suspect it will be difficult for her to attract a lot of high quality replacement candidates (again, who wants to sit in Opposition?)
The pending departures on the NDP side are a smaller group: Michael Sather, Dawn Black and perhaps Gary Coons and Diane Thorne.
When we get an official count of those not seeking re-election, it will likely be reflective of the directions the two parties seem to be heading. One looks like it's headed for government, the other for electoral disaster. If the polls are accurate and don't change much, the number of B.C. Liberals leaving should be about three times that of New Democrats not seeking re-election.
A number of observers have wondered if the tentative agreement between the B.C. Teachers' Federation and their employer could have been reached well before now. Remember, for months the BCTF had been looking for a 15-per-cent wage increase, and the employer was seeking a fair number of concessions from the teachers at the negotiating table.
Here's what I wrote in this space last December, more than half a year ago, as I suggested how a deal could be struck: "Now, there is absolutely no hope of the BCTF achieving anything even remotely similar to what it is demanding when it comes to financial compensation - but what if the BCTF dropped its wage demands and said, in return, get rid of the concessions?"
Well, that's precisely what happened, and what it took to get a deal in the end. The BCTF agreed to a zero-per-cent wage hike, and the employer dropped the concessions.
I hate to say I told you so, but -
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global B.C.
© Copyright 2013