B.C. Craft Beer and Right Wing Politics: A Bitter Mix

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Source: BC Government Flickr

This past Friday evening (February 3, 2017), Richard Zussman, provincial affairs reporter for the CBC, tweeted out that Premier Christy Clark was to attend a “no media” event in Port Moody with two of the Premier’s personal photographers in tow.  It was immediately apparent from the tweet that some type of event was occurring at Yellow Dog Brewery in Port Moody, part of the wildly successful Brewer’s Row in Port Moody.  Subsequent to that tweet, Yellow Dog Brewery acknowledged that they, along with representatives of Moody Ales, Twin Sails Brewery, Parkside Brewery, and the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild had had a discussion with the “BC Government” concerning the “beer industry and issues”.  Later that evening the photos started appearing on the BC Government Flickr page.  What they show is the local Port Moody incumbent BC Liberals MLA Linda Reimer and Premier Christy Clark participating in what amounts to a partisan political photo-op with Ken Beattie, Executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild and local brewers from Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row being present.  Here are the photos from the event.

Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr

Now these types of purely political photo-ops are of course par for the course for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals and they unfortunately straddle that fine line between campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime and doing the work of government.  Doing the work of government IMHO would have included having ministers/ministerial staff responsible being present at the event (people who handle the actual files) and having media present at the event that could ask questions but neither of those appears to have taken place.  Maybe that’s just me though.  The pictures tell the story though as this clearly appears to have been a political photo-op in an attempt to raise the profile of the local BC Liberals MLA running in a tight race for re-election in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam and Christy Clark amongst younger craft beer-loving voters.  I guess we should get used to these purely political photo-ops over the next few months especially locally.  Unfortunately, there is not enough time now to submit a FOI request to see whether or not any public money was spent on this event so I will have to assume that the BC Liberals party covered all expenses associated with this photo-op.

The photos taken will of course undoubtedly be used and reused ad nauseam in future government/BC Liberal party promotional materials (yes I do consider them one and the same and I defy you to prove any differentiation/distinction otherwise).  You gotta feel for the guys from the four local breweries though as sadly, what the pictures amount to unfortunately is a de facto endorsement of the BC Liberals, local incumbent BC Liberal MLA Linda Reimer, and Premier Christy Clark by local brewers and the BC Craft Brewers Guild via their representation/presence at this photo-op event.  Poor breweries guys as they likely didn’t even have a clue that they were going to be used by the Premier and the local BC Liberals MLA Linda Reimer for their own personal political purposes, their own political gain, and to further their political agenda.  Probably didn’t even see it coming.  The BC Liberals got exactly what they wanted though.  Something that they could use to try and sell a tragically unhip older candidate and a largely unpopular Premier to a younger 20-something craft beer loving audience.  Thankfully the brewers likely won’t have to worry about seeing the Premier and MLA Linda Reimer for a while now.  That is unless they want something else from them again.

I can only assume that the recent CATI polling that was conducted in Port Moody on behalf of the BC Liberal party and/or their supporters (I was called BTW) showed that Linda Reimer was polling very badly (particularly amongst millennials within the riding) and what better way to try to reach that demographic than to associate yourself with one of the passions of locals and particularly local millennials: Craft Beer.  I do have to wonder if those present at the event honestly did think that the meeting was only to support local businesses and their industry with no ulterior motives at all?  Maybe that is how the event was sold to them?  Who knows?  You gotta wonder though why did Christy Clark and Linda Reimer choose to visit this particular area at this particular time to discuss these particular issues?  To be sure, if this meeting/event had occurred a year ago, no one would have even blinked an eye.  Not even for a second.  However, it is in the context of the upcoming election that all actions of the Premier and her party must now be perceived and interpreted.

Unfortunately, by agreeing (being duped?) into taking part in an obviously politically motivated event so close to an election (that being only ~3 months away), the craft brewery folks present unfortunately (whether they knew what was going on or not and whether intentionally or not) were involved/engaged in a political event/activity (likely under false pretenses as I say).  Ultimately the brewery folks are likely the victims in all this as they will now be in the unenviable position of forever being associated with the party of Quick Wins, Health Firings, Triple Delete, fake balanced budgets, massive budget overruns, fake news, Kinder Morgan, education underfunding, alternative facts, failed LNG promises, baseless allegations of illegal wrongdoing, etc., (one would think/hope) likely not at their own volition.  I would be pretty upset too if I was them.  One wonders how the whole thing was sold to them originally when they were originally contacted by the representatives of the Premier/local MLA (presumably) and whether or not that it actually lived up to that billing.  One would hope that if they knew how they were going to be used that they would have passed on the whole event.  I wonder what they would do in hindsight?  I would imagine that they would probably not be wanting to have their products and brands associated with one particular political party with an election on the immediate horizon that’s for sure.  No doubt about that.

Red Truck Brewery and #BoyCottRedTruck

You may remember that this is not the first time that right wing politics/right wing politicians, and craft beer have become intertwined in B.C. and have been the source of a bit of controversy.  Keen political observers will remember that Red Truck Brewery was the target of the #BoycottRedTruck movement back in 2015 after Stephen Harper and entourage, et al. breezed into town and hosted an exclusive (no media) invitation-only event at the Red Truck Brewery in East Vancouver (sound familiar?).

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The appearance caused some to suggest that by the brewery hosting the event during the run up to the election that this was a de facto endorsement of Stephen Harper and Conservative Party by Red Truck Brewery and this caused a social media backlash.

Red Truck claimed at the time that they only were renting out the space to any and all takers and that the use of their facility was not an endorsement of right wing politics or any right wing politicians in any way.  Then interestingly, the BC Liberals also chose to use the same location and utilized Red Truck for the Richmond-Steveston BC Liberals’ June 26, 2016 fundraiser on behalf of John “Quick Wins” Yap, Minister of Selfies, and Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy to the Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch.

I guess it was all a big misunderstanding as the Brewery suggested.  In the same way, I have to presume that their $2,000 donation to the BC Liberals in 2016 in the name of the brewery was also a big mistake and misunderstanding and not an endorsement of the BC Liberal party as were the many contributions of the owner of Red Truck to the BC Liberals.  Cough.

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The Other Infamous Port Moody Photo-op

The whole recent episode at Yellow Dog Brewery may also be seem somewhat familiar to local Tri-Cities political observers as it is also somewhat reminiscent of another time in the recent past when another political leader seeking re-election, breezed into town for an exclusive photo-op similarly far from the prying eyes of the pesky media to do a photo-op promoting a rather lacklustre candidate who only appeared in the background hoping that some charisma would rub off of them (sound and familiar again?)

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As such, it seems that the BC Liberals appear to be taking a page directly out of the last Conservative campaign book by staging exclusive politically motivated photo-ops on the taxpayers dime away far from the prying eyes of the media.

It should be noted that the breweries of Brewery Row themselves for the most part appear to have been largely mum on the whole event that took place at Yellow Dog.  No mention of the event to date has been made on the Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook accounts of the three breweries involved with only Yellow Dog mentioning the event at all.  One has to wonder why?  If this was such an important discussion and an important event, why no mention of it/pictures of it?  Given the above I would have to think that they are all pretty steamed about the whole thing and it is totally understandable why they would not want to dwell on such a series of unfortunate events.

So was it all worth it? Yellow Dog in response to a query on Facebook made the following statement:

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So to sum up: Nothing concrete came of it, they will continue to talk, and the BC Liberals leave with the photos from the photo-op as they originally wanted/intended.

To be fair, as noted previously, I can not emphasize enough how much I have to acknowledge that the local brewers of Brewer’s Row and Ken Beattie of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild may have been totally and completely unaware as to the extent that they were going to be used by Christy Clark, their local MLA Linda Reimer, and the BC Liberals for a photo-op for purely political purposes.  As such, I really do think that it would be incumbent on everyone involved to also invite local candidates and the leaders from other political parties to also sit down and discuss the “beer industry and issues” in the same manner as they did with Christy Clark so as to indeed demonstrate that they are/were completely non-partisan and that they didn’t intentionally wish to effectively endorse/be associated exclusively with the BC Liberals in the upcoming election.  If they choose not to, then I guess that you can pretty much put them in the same category as Red Truck Brewery.  That’s OK if you like to have right wing politics with your beer.  That’s your prerogative.  But for others, that may leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

Edit: I recently came across the standard consent and release from the Provincial Government regarding the use of images.  I do wonder if all of the local craft beer folk that were used for propaganda purposes indeed all signed the waiver.  If not, they would have every right to have the images removed if any one person in any of the images objected to the use of their image.

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Edit: And exactly as predicted, a photo from the Port Moody brewery photo-op is now part of the BC Liberals Campaign Platform materials published on April 11, 2017 (see below).  The BC Liberals are nothing if not predictable.

 

 

 

 

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What is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals?

Forestry Priority #1
Christy Clark at the Council of Forest Industries’ Annual Convention in Kelowna, stating that achieving a softwood lumber agreement was her #1 Priority.  Or is it?
On April 8, 2016 at the recent Council of Forest Industries’ Annual Convention in Kelowna, Premier Christy Clark suggested that achieving a softwood lumber agreement was her #1 Priority.  She subsequently repeated this claim several times on social media.  For those following the Premier and her recent speeches and public appearances this statement was (and is) somewhat perplexing and may have inspired more than a few people out there to pause for thought as just over a month ago (in March 2016) when speaking to reporters after her speech at the GLOBE Clean-Tech Conference Christy Clark said that securing federal cash to upgrade the hydro grid between BC and Alberta was the #1 priority of her government.

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Also perplexing is the fact that a month prior in February, 2016, Clark said that BC’s two priorities are LNG and new softwood lumber accord with the U.S. with the softwood lumber accord being the top priority.  And prior to that, in the BC Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Update published on October 26, 2015, Christy Clark is noted as having said that “the top priority remains the development of LNG in BC”.  This same claim (that LNG was priority #1) was stated by Christy Clark on December 10, 2014 in an interview with two Bloomberg writers in New York.  Also, previously one may remember that during the confrontation with the BCTF in 2014 that she tweeted out (on August 31, 2014) that class composition in BC Schools is Priority #1 because “students’ needs come first”.Clark Priorty 1 2014

In 2014 while addressing the Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce she was quoted as saying that her top priority was the economy.  In 2013, during the election campaign Christy Clark was noted as having stated that fixing schools (doing seismic upgrades) was her top priority with her stating that “absolutely, nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe”.  In 2012 Premier Clark was also noted as having said that job growth was her number one priority.  Also in 2012, the then Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Pat Bell was quoted in a BC Liberal Caucus News Release as stating that “Job creation is our government’s number one priority“.  And in a survey response to the B.C. Trucking Association, the BC Liberal Party stated that the “Number one priority for Today’s BC Liberals is growing the economy to get to a debt-free BC“.

This apparent #1 Priority confusion is not exactly new for Christy Clark too.  On July 30, 2012 at a Women-only gathering hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, Christy Clark is quoted as saying her “My #1 Priority is Liquefied Natural Gas.”  Showing this confusion in the same speech at the same event (no less) she is noted as having said that families must be considered Priority #1 by Victoria.

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Christy Clark at July 31, 2012 Women-Only gathering hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce
Wait a second.  What gives?  What exactly is going on here?  How could all these things be Priority #1?  Is that even possible?  One would think perhaps that a wet behind the ears BC Liberal staffer in short pants could be responsible for at least some of these inconsistencies but more often than not, the Priority #1 claims are coming directly from the mouth of Christy Clark herself.  And what about that the “Families First” mantra repeated ad nauseam by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals during the last Provincial election?  You may remember that after being elected in 2013 Christy Clark was quoted as saying “My top priority will be to put families first” even though the “Families First” mantra quite clearly hasn’t exactly been either followed or is an appropriate slogan for this government.  Where exactly does “Families First” fit it in amongst all these #1 Priorities?   If families are first, aren’t they Priority #1?Families First

It has become a truism in politics that actions speak louder than words and you would be forgiven for thinking that over the past few years that LNG, Site C, running a secretive government (as exemplified by the Triple Delete Scandal), protecting corporate donations to the Liberal Party (as evinced by their recent vote to protect their corporate donations and not ban corporate and union donations), the Massey Bridge fiasco (the publicly funded opening and commercialization of the Lower Fraser River at taxpayer expense in order to facilitate deep sea oil and LNG tankers), underfunding education so that the money could be on pet projects such as LNG and Site C could at various times be considered the #1 Priority for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.  Where exactly are families in that last?  Not first and they certainly are not Priority #1 that’s for sure.

So what can you say about all this apparent Priority #1 confusion?

Well, it appears in most cases that what is stated as being Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals depends on the audience and the situation in which it is being stated.  In practice though it really depending on the perceived political bonus points that could be scored with the audience to which the Priority #1 message is being conveyed.  An evaluation of whether or not saying it could be considered a “quick win” if you will.  A “tell them what they want to hear and hope that nobody notices” kind of strategy.  Could the more recent confusion and shifting of Priority #1 status signify a change in direction policywise and a tacit admission and realization that with the failing fortunes of LNG and no hope in that regard on the immediate horizon that the BC Liberals need to prioritize and rejig their message and downplay the importance of LNG to have any hope of being re-elected?  Not really sure.  Possibly though.

Then what really is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals?  Quite clearly, Priority #1 is to get re-elected at any and all costs.  It is a do anything and say anything free-for-all in that regards where the ends justify the means (as we have seen in the Triple Delete scandal).  Want to ignore WCB regulations to get a photo-op in?

Former Coquitlam-Burke Mountain BC Liberal Candidate Joan Isaacs and BC Liberal MLAs Linda Reimer (Port Moody-Coquitlam), Peter Fastbender (Minister Responsible for Translink), and Richard Lee (Burnaby North) ignoring WCB regulations to get yet another photo-op in.
Sure, no problem.  Want to set up an exclusive photo op/meeting with the Minister of Education, and local BC Liberal friendly school superintendent, and local school trustees and have a photo taken during working hours in your campaign office in front of a campaign sign?  Sure, no problem.

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From left to right: SD43 Superintendent Patricia Gartland, BC Liberal Candidate Joan Isaacs (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain), Minister of Education Mike Bernier, SD43 Chair Judy Shirra, SD43 Trustee Barb Hobson, taken during the recent by-election in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.
Want to blur the lines between party advertisements and government advertising?  Sure no problem.  Want to delete anything to do with the business case for the Massey Bridge?  Sure, no problem.  Want to use government resources and campaign on the public’s dime?  Sure.  Want to use public money for political ads?  Absolutely.  At least if Christy Clark and the BC Liberals came out and admitted that getting re-elected is Priority #1 I would at least appreciate their honesty and would actually believe what they are saying.  You know, like when then BC Liberal Candidate Dan Ashton MLA for Penticton stated in 2012 after winning the BC Liberal nomination that “Our No. 1 priority is that we have to see the NDP doesn’t get elected…“.  The actions of the BC Liberals and their supporters over the next year leading up to the next Provincial election will quite clearly reveal what indeed is Priority #1 is for this Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.  Just wait for it.  And don’t be fooled by the last minute money that will be thrown at Education, raises in welfare rates, raises in minimum wage, etc. in an effort to garner votes and favour.  It is all part of what we all know is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals:  Getting to Yes to re-electing the BC Liberals.  And what about families?  They are “first”, right after all the #1 Priorities.

Edit: I happened to come across a letter written by Rich Coleman to the Major of Fort St. John which continues the storied tradition of the BC Liberals in telling the audience what they want to hear.  In the letter, Mr. Coleman states that “LNG remains the highest priority of the Province” (see below).  Old habits die hard. And the Trumpian “BCFirst” mantra unveiled while instigating a new tax on foreign investors.  Please.  Just more of the same old, same old.

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