THE re-branding of the B.C. Liberal party into the "B.C. Christy" party has officially begun, but one has to wonder whether this is a case of too little, too late.
The party now has a new logo that features, in large highlighted letters, "B.C. Christy" and, in smaller type, "Liberals" and "Clark."
The party has obviously decided that its chief asset - in fact, perhaps its only one - is Premier Christy Clark herself. The name "B.C. Liberals" is, apparently, permanently damaged in the eyes of too many people.
So get ready to hear a lot of "Christy this" and "Christy that" in the months ahead. Her polling numbers are said to be running ahead of those of her party, but it will be difficult for her to maintain those levels as her government grapples with fiscal problems.
The party's website - www.bcliberals.com - is a good indication of the rebranding strategy, which began some time ago but with that new logo has now entered a new level. A YouTube video of Clark talking about families and jobs being the top priorities for her government greets visitors to the site, and they are also asked to follow "Christy" (not "Premier") on Twitter and be a friend or "fan" of her on Facebook.
This emphasis on using a first name as the government's chief symbol and message box is telling.
As much as Gordon Campbell was a controlling leader, he was never a popular leader that people warmed up to. He was seen, at least until the final couple of years in office, as someone who could run government better than the alternative.
Campbell was all business, with a public personality that seemed cold and aloof. He was very much identified as the leader, but there was never any suggestion of turning things into the "Gordo government" or something as personal as that.
Clark, however, is the opposite. She projects a perky, smiling youthful image of a woman who is having fun in the job. There's not as much seriousness here.
Hence the emphasis on "Christy," which the B.C. Liberals now desperately hope overcomes the long list of negatives piled like deadweights around the party's neck.
The new premier needs to show at every turn that the days of Gordon Campbell are long over, and that she's prepared to not only do things differently, but to introduce policy shifts unthinkable under her predecessor. Personality can only take you so far.
The website also provides a glimpse of the other side of the B.C. Liberals' strategy in the months ahead. At the bottom is a harsh photo of an unsmiling Adrian Dix, leader of the NDP.
Actually, according to the B.C. Liberal website (and pretty well every one of the party's news releases), Dix was the "chief architect" of the "disastrous" economic policies of the NDP government of the 1990s. This designation will come as news to those who actually worked in that government - or covered it in the media.
There is no doubt Dix was a key senior adviser to Glen Clark when he was both a cabinet minister and premier, but "chief architect?" I don't think so.
Nevertheless, as the B.C. Liberals try to rebrand themselves as the party of cheerful Christy, it will also try to brand her chief opponent as some kind of menacing economic incompetent.
But will this work?
As I write this column, there has not been a public opinion poll in several months. But my instincts tell me the governing party is in serious trouble and may have even slipped behind the New Democrats.
B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins has been receiving a considerable amount of media attention, and this has likely pushed a significant number of B.C. Liberals into his camp.
So can "Christy" bring them back into the fold, based largely on her sunny personality?
It's a question that will take some time to answer.
But by tying the party's electoral success to a single person, the B.C. Liberals are also taking an enormous risk if that person gradually becomes unpopular herself.
Because if that occurs, there may not be enough time before the next election to go through yet another rebranding exercise.
Keith Baldrey is chief political correspondent for Global BC.
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