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Victoria needs to raise its party game

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So you want to throw a party to properly mark the B.C. Liberals' miraculous comeback win and introduce the new cabinet at the start of the glorious fourth term?
And you're wondering if it should be at Government House in Victoria, as nearly every cabinet swearing-in has been for the last 150 years?
No way. No how.
You try inviting 1,800 B.C. Liberal guests to a bash in a city where the nearest Liberal MLA is 150 kilometres away. They just wouldn't feel comfortable. It would be like San Francisco fans trying to enjoy the playoff game in Seattle this weekend.
And Premier Christy Clark was already on record expressing distaste for the "sick culture" in the capital's political hub, which she feels better avoiding.
So, 1,800 people at Government House? Forget about it.
You'd have to bus everyone to Royal Athletic Park. And people would complain about the buses. (That's what we do here.)
Standing around a pokey old ballpark eating hotdogs and lining up for beer is no way to celebrate.
Which brings us to the $2,948 worth of Pan-Seared Spicy Prawns Crostini served up at the cabinet-naming ceremony in Vancouver last June.
And the $3,300 worth of Maple-Smoked Sablefish Skewers. And the $4,950 worth of Fresh Maki Sushi ("served on Lacquered Trays").
The itemized bills were posted on a government website last week in response to a request from unidentified media. (Good on them for asking.)
And a perusal of all the bills is an uncomfortable lesson for sleepy little Victoria in how to throw a party.
Can Victoria chefs turn out $2,814 worth of Prosciutto and Asparagus with White Truffle Oil?
Maybe. But they probably tasted a lot better in Vancouver, where it wasn't raining - for a change - and where the political ambience was more conducive to partying. The cheese plate alone would have been worth attending. "Aged cheddars, Emmethaler, Brie, Okanagan Chèvre and Québécois Artisanal Cheeses served with Walnut Baguette," for $6,600.
Before taxpayers blow a gasket, it should be stressed that corporate donations covered the entire bill, except for staff costs.
The government produced a list earlier in response to a request from Vancouver reporter Bob Mackin of 20 individuals, groups and businesses that contributed between $2,500 and $25,000, to a total of $120,000.
They pretty much had to, given the welcome message the premier wrote on the first page of the program handed out to guests. "Our focus will be to … keep life affordable for families by controlling spending."
It's the first time a cabinet event of that sort was sponsored. Leaving aside the awkward appearance ("This government brought to you by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers"), it's obviously the way to go. With that kind of bankroll, you can throw a party that leaves the usual Government House gathering of a few hundred invitees far behind.
The new cabinet ministers were announced at the Vancouver bash and showed up at Government House a few days later to be formally sworn in. But it was a pale imitation.
There were no Bocconcini and Cherry Tomato Caprese Skewers ($2,680) that I could find.
I went to an after-party following that rather humdrum affair and the menu consisted of a six-inch meatball sub and a can of pop, which I paid for myself, since I was the only person at the party.
The message is clear: The capital has to raise its game.
Les Leyne covers the legislature for the Victoria Times Colonist.
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