I have just completed reading Brian Harding’s “Not Even a God Can Save Us Now”, his latest analysis on the modern implications of Machiavellian thought. What I learned about the author of “The Prince” and “The Discourses” in this read confirms my belief that politics, the art of acquiring and retaining power, is not a blood sport for the faint of heart. Machiavelli was a firm believer that a certain level of violence might be necessary to curtail the threat of civil disorder and, ultimately, anarchy. While these two possibilities are extreme and not likely in many western nations today, Machiavelli knew all too well about them in war-torn 15th century Italy. He saw the security and survivability of the state resting in the virtue or goodness of its leader to maintain law and order, regardless of the consequences. Playing by the rules of engagement quite often means using what is available to lend dignity and prestige to its institutions and practices at the expense of one’s opponents. Ever the pragmatist that he was, Machiavelli brought to the task of statecraft in medieval Italy a skill set bar none. He could write, soldier, negotiate, was well up in the classics, and had a strong sense of self-preservation and expediency. One of those qualities included knowing which side of the fray to be on when it came to gaining the upper hand. ┬áRight without might was nothing more than an airy-fairy platonic theory that resulted in useless contentions about natural law versus ecclesiastical law. Man is empowered to rule only as long as he knows how to wield power for the good of the state. Like Hobbes who came a century later, Machiavelli had every reason to believe that such a grand scenario was only possible if the prince or leader was tough enough to stand up to those intent on wresting power away from him. Let’s move forward a few centuries to late June, 2017, in the province of British Columbia, often referred to as the Wild West of Canadian politics. Here we are in a tenuous situation where the governing minority Liberals of sixteen years look like they are ready to fall to a non-confidence motion next week by a recently formed Socialist-Green coalition. While the math might show imminent defeat for the Clark government, there are several unknowns that could happen that might predicate a different outcome. Clark has delivered a new throne speech that indicates that her government is more than willing to soften its stance on social programs, and the John Horgan led coalition needs the support of the speaker, traditionally an independent role, to pass any legislation if it forms government. Added to which, if the Liberals are defeated in the legislature next week, the Liberal speaker will then resign, leaving the coalition to select one of their own for the position. This would make for a very unstable situation where votes could end in a draw. Herein lies the Machiavellian twist or element of surprise. In a letter sent out to all party members, including myself, Clark mentions that while she doesn’t want a summer election – a recent Angus Reid poll rules against it – she is, nevertheless, readying us for that prospect. I believe that if she is defeated in the House next Thursday, she will go to the Lieutenant-Governor to ask for a dissolution of the legislation and a new election. Her reasoning will be, of course, that the slim numbers and the fact that Horgan plans to radically rewrite the rules of the legislature make it so governance could be seriously jeopardized if the coalition were invited to take over. If she succeeds, she then has a new platform to run on, and I will be there, like Machiavelli of old, to help the party win, such is the stuff dreams are made of.