RECALL: Fight was emotional, annoying as campaign became ‘personal,’ Chong says

Ida Chong isn't one to count her chickens yet, not at least until she knows she still has a job.

Ida Chong isn’t one to count her chickens yet, not at least until she knows she still has a job.

The Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA spent the last 60 days fighting a recall campaign whose goal appeared to be out of reach heading into the final day for gathering signatures.

On Tuesday, Chong was apprehensive about calling the recall attempt a failure.

“I’m reluctant to let my guard down because you just never know,” she said. “I’m certainly feeling much more comfortable than I was three weeks ago, but I learned a long time ago you should wait until the facts are before you.”

She said it’s been “very emotional” being targeted in a campaign she feels became too personal near its end.

“At the beginning I knew they had to choose a target … and over the course of 60 days they’ve made it more personal so people would sign,” she said. “I’ve been very frustrated, I’ve been annoyed and a little mad, to be quite honest.”

Earlier this week Chris Delaney, organizer of the Fight HST campaign – which is helping spearhead the recall – all but admitted defeat in Chong’s riding. The latest numbers provided, from last week, showed canvassers had collected only 55 per cent of the required 15,368 signatures necessary to oust Chong.

If recall isn’t achieved and campaigns in other ridings continue, Chong says she believes people will start looking at the provincial Recall and Initiative Act as a futile democratic process.

“It’ll soon be a tool that people think is ineffective or should be scrapped. That’s the danger when people aren’t careful when they use a powerful tool like recall,” she said.

Liberal MLAs Don McRae (Comox Valley) and Terry Lake (Kamloops-North Thompson) currently face recall campaigns, which are being fueled by the public outcry against the HST.

Chong says her next focus is choosing which candidate to back in her party’s upcoming leadership convention. She says her decision likely won’t be public until after Feb. 12.

She says she’s been “blown away” by support received from constituents during the last two months.

“They said ‘Don’t give up. Keep your chin up,'” Chong said. “They might not necessarily have voted for me, but they don’t believe recall was used in the right way. ‘Yes we might disagree with her policies, we might not agree with the HST, but we get our chance at the referendum.’ They may be angry, but they understand recall isn’t going to get rid of the HST.”

The recall campaign ends today at 4:30 p.m. when organizers must submit their signed petitions to Elections B.C.

kslavin@saanichnews.com