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Newspaper columnist Allan Fotheringham once observed:
In the Maritimes, politics is a disease, in Québec
a religion, in Ontario a
business, on the Prairies a protest and in British Columbia entertainment.
~ Allan Fotheringham(1932-08-31 age:85)
The province of BC is the Canadian equivalent of California perched on the
west coast, sometimes called Lotus land because of the mild climate and laid back
This essay will describe a little recent political provincial history.
The Fall of Glen Clark
Glen Clark was leader of the
NDP (New Democratic Party) (New Democratic
Party) and Premier of the province of BC. It was alleged a neighbour contractor friend,
Dimitrios Pilarinos, did some repair work on his back porch for
that should have cost
at full union rates. BC TV, night after night, for months played the footage of the
police entering the premier’s modest house by the back door. The repetition paid
off and the voters got the unconscious impression he was a convicted criminal in the
same league as low-lifes appearing on Cops. He was disgraced and his party was decimated
down to two seats. The BC supreme court later vindicated him, but the damage was already
Rise of Gordon Campbell
The BC Liberal party in opposition made great hay of the
scandal, (which seems laughable compared with the scale of American Enron and funeralgate
scandals.) The Liberals portrayed themselves as pro-business centrists and won an
astounding majority — all seats but two.
Once in office they proceeded to rule like George Bush Republicans. For example:
The first thing they did once in office was offer a massive tax cut to the
They privatised the hospitals.
They threw thousands of people off disability pensions.
They created forms so complex for the mentally disabled people to fill, many
committed suicide in despair.
They threw people off welfare into the streets. The number of homeless people
They fired half the Ministry of the environment, our provincial analog of the
environmental protection agency.
The economy went from boom to bust. BC was one of the richest provinces and went to
He doubled tuition fees to post secondary education and cut funding.
They sold off the crown assets including a railway, the electric utility and the
ferry system to private interests. One of the benefactors of this was Accenture,
née Arthur Anderson, a company embroiled in the Enron scandal.
They sold off a pair of experimental fast ferries for far below market value mainly
to discredit the previous government that had promoted them.
The Liberal premier Gordon Campbell is a practising alcoholic. It seems to be a
bit of a fad. Alberta’s premier Ralph Klein too is a lush. Shortly after taking
office, Campbell was convicted of drunk driving while on vacation in Hawaii. He had a
blood alcohol level of .149, over twice the legal limit, though he claimed he did not
know he was even in the slightest impaired. He was utterly plastered. His mug shot
taken by the Hawaiian police above shows him grinning goofily. He got off with
They tore up collective bargaining agreements, fired huge numbers of government
workers and gave them pay cuts.
They abolished the ombudsman and the human rights commission.
They made a successful bid for the Olympics in 2010 and
committed the province to some massive expenditures building new roads for access to
the ski areas and new Olympic facilities.
They gave government lottery proceeds to a privately owned, profitable hockey
The police made a routine practice of confiscating the belongings of any homeless
person without court order of any kind.
BC has had some tough economic problems mainly because of Americans illegally
slapping tariff on BC softwood imports. However, Mr. Campbell seems to have taken an
almost sadistic glee in slashing budgets for services for those already suffering most
while handing out lollipops to his well-to-do supporters. This earned him the nickname
Strangely, the Liberals are still fairly high in the polls, mainly because there is no
organised opposition. There supporters forgive them the cuts imagining they had no other
choices: e.g. partly claw back the stupendous tax cut to the wealthy, target tax cuts in
a way to stimulate specific industries and regions rather than just blindly blanket, stop
selling the crown forests at such low fees which is partly what triggered the dispute
with the Americans, get involved in the softwood lumber dispute, The opposition includes
the remnants of the NDP, the Green Party and the Marijuana party, which tend to
split the left and youth vote. Marijuana is big business in BC. Marijuana legalisation is gradually happening in
How important is marijuana export to the British Columbia economy? The marijuana
sector’s workers make up 5% of the provincial workforce
and outnumber the province’s massive logging, mining and oil and gas industries
In 2003, the only two opposition
MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) s, Joy McPhail and Jenny Kwan seemed burned out and
said they would not run.
disgraced in a scandal when one of his ministers, Dave Stupich, funneled lottery funds to
his private account. Harcourt then had a near fatal fall from his Pender Island cottage
deck onto some rocks along the shoreline. Doctors once said he would likely be confined
to a wheelchair after four months in hospital recuperating. He was out of the running.
over after Clark resigned. He was a mild mannered apologetic man. He lost the election so
badly, that even he personally lost his seat and the opposition was reduced to two
seats. After this disgrace, I can’t see him seeking another another chance.
has repeatedly said he was not running. He hosted a popular TV show (my
personal favourite TV show) called Viland Voices. I emailed him nearly every day about
some issue and about half the time he read my email on the air. We are on a first name
basis when I showed up for the live Talk TV show tapings. He and I agree on almost every
issue right down the line. I have repeatedly pushed him to run, as have others, but he
has refused. He had a great pulpit at The New VI TV station, probably better than any
politician, to sell left-of-center ideas. He is a wonderful human being. He has strong
opinions, but when he so often says I want to know what you
think. you can tell he deeply means it.
is running for
NDP leader. He was a
left wing firebrand who is obviously itching to put the Liberal feet to the fire.
However, his accent is so thick you miss a quarter of what he says.
reminds me a bit of
Sheila Copps who ran against Paul Martin for leader of the federal
Liberal party. She talks a bit too loud and a bit too fast. She was considered the front
runner because of endorsement from one of the big government employee unions. Everything
she says sounds like a rehearsed speech, which detracts from her humanity. She clearly
cares passionately about the issues. She is no phony. She is a stump-style politician who
will do best addressing large crowds. She won the leadership race.
is a crown
prosecutor. He exudes authority. He reminds me a bit of actor Kevin McCarthy. He hammers
his message of stability and sticking to the middle of the road. I think strategically he
would be the NDP ’s best bet. The NDP
are often accused
of being sentimental and impractical. He exudes the opposite, but as a result has less
appeal for the typical leftish NDP
voter. I relish seeing him competently prosecute the Liberals for their multitude of
crimes and incompetencies.
looks the part of a competent executive. However, his speaking style is too
bland for a party leader. He hunches his shoulders which makes him appear weak. He is
quite articulate, but seems to be talking to himself or the air, rather than to his
audience. He keeps looking down.
is clearly a
working class guy. He dresses like a blue collar union worker whose interests he
represents. He has a slightly cynical depressed aura about him. Politicians need to exude
optimism. His appeal is his direct speech. He does not sound in the least like a weaselly
politician. However, I can’t see the public trusting him to run the entire
province. He gives no indication he would be even interested in the administrative
has dropped out of the race. He was perhaps a bit too young to be taken
seriously as premier.
found the most personally appealing of the candidates. He had a warm voice and a subtle
sense of humour and joy. He talked a vision of BC with new green industries with great
passion and did it in a way that it did not sound like an empty pipe dream. He is
perhaps a little too self-deprecating for a politician and might be perceived by voters
as not strong enough to lead a province. He has a beard which will frighten off some. He
is not a stump politician, but should do very well in the cool medium of TV. He comes
across as extremely likeable. I think he is probably the most intelligent of the
candidates. That perception could be a liability. He is also a lawyer, which gives him
competence in debate and drafting legislation, but dampens his general appeal. He has the
endorsement of Dave Barrett, a popular ex-premier. Ironically what did him in was some
incident where he lost his temper.
All the candidates came across as caring and polite with each
other. That bodes well that they could eventually work as a team. The delegates chose
Carole James as the new provincial NDP
leader at the
2003-11-21 to 24 convention. I encountered all the
declared candidates when Moe Sihota invited them to a live TV show with a studio
audience. They are all easily approachable people. I did not sense that nauseating
phoniness you usually get from politicians. It felt as if I were talking to personal
And The Winner Is…
Carol James won the NDP
The Liberals drastically dropped in support over scandals involving the
RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)
raiding the legislature in allegations of organised crime, drugs and leaking confidential
information in the BC Rail sale, not to mention their many fights with union workers and
health care workers. The Liberals made great hay of a last-minute turn-around in a
disasastrous economy. In the election on 2005-05-18, THe
was unable to unseat the Liberals but it was able to regain 30 seats.