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Five thoughts on Van Dongen's leap

First, I don't buy the criticism John Van Dongen is just trying to keep a job in politics and thinks he would lose as a Liberal in his riding. My experience had been that he is an ethical person and I accept his explanation for sitting as a Conservative at face value. (That doesn't mean that he's right, of course.)
Second, the Liberal strategists' decision to have Rich Coleman stop just short of suggesting Van Dongen is emotionally and mentally unstable and hint at dark things to come out in the months ahead was sleazy and destructive. Criticize him for not staying to seek change in the party, or accuse him of betraying the people who elected a Liberal MLA. But don't launch a personal attack on someone you worked beside for 16 years. I can't imagine other Liberals were happy with the lack of decency.
In the same way, attacking Van Dongen for living with - and setting the pay - of his constituency assistant looked bad. The Liberals, apparently, considered it fine as long as he was with them, but a potential scandal once he wasn't. It smells of hypocrisy. (Van Dongen was anticipating the attack and had legal opinions saying he had done nothing wrong.)
Third, in the same vein, how can it have seemed a wise idea to keep Christy Clark unavailable for 24 hours? She's the premier, a senior MLA quits and challenges her government's integrity and she can't be found.
Fourth, I'd like to know more about Liberal constituency assistants, the hiring practices, rates of pay and who sets them. Van Dongen's assistant and partner is paid $78,000, a lot of money. The appearance of conflict of interest in setting the pay, at taxpayer's expense, for the person you live with, is obvious. So is the conflict in managing job performance.
What are other Liberal CAs paid? Who sets the amount, and what are the hiring practices to ensure the best candidates are in the jobs? (The NDP CAs are covered by a collective agreement; the last time I checked the top pay was about $47,000.)
It's time to lift the secrecy around MLA spending.
And fifth, Kevin Falcon's comments in The Tyee were a noteworthy contrast to Coleman's over-the-top attack.
"I can't say it's a total surprise to be honest," said Falcon. "John's been indicating he's been upset about a few issues for a long time."
"I like John, I respected John, I still do," Falcon said. "That's obviously a decision he's made after some thought and he'll have to live with the consequences good or bad."
Those sound like the comments of a person who might see a leadership change, and rebuilding job, in the near future for the Liberals.

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