If You Really Love B.C., Gordon, Go NOW!

I know I have had a reputation for asking politicians tough questions, and really appreciated Mike McCardell’s recent kind words,  in his 50 Year Global series,   about my exchange with Bloc Quebecois Leader Lucien Bouchard. (That event actually made it into Lawrence Martin’s biographical book on Bouchard.)

But turns out the most prescient and provocative question I ever asked during my journalistic career may have been the one I posed to Premier Gordon Campbell shortly after he took office … and tore up all those existing contracts with BC’s health care workers.

“Are you going to be a premier or a dictator?,” I asked Campbell as he emerged from a radio appearance, where he had defended his tearing up the legally binding contracts.  (BC later paid the workers $85 million in compensation after the Supreme court ruled the government’s actions were illegal.)

He never really answered  my question …just responded with “Nice question, Harv, nice question,” as he headed away.

I heard from the cameraman I was working with that day that Premier mentioned  that exchange as the cameraman set for a subsequent interview many days later with another reporter.  Apparently he was not amused … and never forgot.

But judging by former cabinet minister Bill Bennett’s remarks Wednesday …. and repeated Thursday …. I was really on to something way back then; maybe the first journalist to really expose the true nature of his leadership style.

The media has  been filled in recent months with all kinds of open criticism of Campbell,  his actions, his style, and his blunders. 

But NOW that  this is all coming from his own “team”,  from Liberals, from his own cabinet colleagues … Campbell has to go ….  NOW.

What can be worse for a Premier than to have his own cabinet overturn an announcement he made three weeks ago????   About a tax cut no less!!!   The taxpayers be damned!

And for this to happen to the once-iron-handed ruler Gordon Campbell shows the game is over for him.

A year ago, or six months ago … no cabinet minister would dare overturn or override or openly criticize an annoucement by the premier … even one affecting his or her own ministry.  Now, however, Campbell looks like a mortally-wounded fallen wretch, reduced to asking his cabinet colleagues if it’s okay for him to say this or annouce that .

Almost no one will now believe anything he says or announces in the next few months: the taxpayers will not be able to count on any of it; businesses will no confidence any announced decussions will stick; and the federal government and other provinces will no doubt discount any commitments he voices …and I’d also bet, any agreements he now signs.

It’s time to go NOW, Gordon, if you really love B.C. as much as you have said you do.   

And on your way out, feel free to admit that was pretty good question I asked you so long ago … one which you have clearly answered loud and clear … not by your words …  but by your actions.

Harv Oberfeld

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23 Responses to If You Really Love B.C., Gordon, Go NOW!

  1. D.G.B. says:

    I hope now MLA’s (MP’s too) realize that party politics will become a dinosaur and that each MLA is working for the people that elected them – NOT the party sport “dictator” – the leader should be a manager – a collegue. I for one would love to see more and more independant MLA’s run.
    I really hope Gordie will not be named to the Senate to see out his years wasting more of our money.

    (Response: I don’t think we’ll see an end to party pollitics … in fact, it may get even worse. The reason is the increasingly high cost of campaigning, advertising in newspapers, on radio and t.v., election travel etc….and when a campaign in a single riding can run into millions…parties provide the easiest way to pay the big bills. h.o.)

  2. Robbie says:

    Excellent post, Harvey. Gordon Campbell sacrificed his principles upon the altar of political expediency a long time ago. It is very much like ‘Animal Farm’ in that caucus room. Bullies do not suffer from low self esteem, rather they suffer from an over weaning sense of superiority and hubris. It is about power, control, and domination of another human being’s dignity and self-worth.

  3. A Dave says:

    I agree, Campbell has to go right now. But his stepping aside is still not going to make the systemic breakdown he caused disappear. And clearly, he’s refusing to leave until he covers all his tracks on BC Rail, otherwise a lot of influential people associated with that shady sale are going to remain very paranoid about a large boot that The Great Manipulator has prevented from dropping for nearly eight years now.

    The whole affair has tainted our justice system, our law enforcement, our government, our bureaucracy, and our mainstream media. Without trust or honour in those key institutions, we cease to live in a functioning democracy.

    As your previous post makes clear, Harvey, it is the duty of the opposition parties, the media, and even the other Liberals (esp. ones with leadership aspirations, or an ounce of moral fibre left) to demand a Public Inquiry into the sale of BC Rail. And they must do everything in their power to ensure that none of the defense documents from the trial are destroyed.

    If not, they will all be complicit. Only too happy to have kept in tact a system they can exploit with impunity.

  4. Burgess says:


  5. Edgar says:

    Hopefully this wll put and end to thr talk of Campbell having a role in national politics. The Toronto media have been making much of this possibility.

    (Response: You don’t think Ambassador to Afghanistan might be appropriate? h.o)

  6. D. M. Johnston says:

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Gordon Campbell has succumbed to the great downfall of politicians, he has absolutely corrupted himself with power.

    It is all about him, not the BC Liberal Party, not BC, not the electorate, he has become the Sun King, who thinks he is the centre of the universe.

    The BC Liberal Party is now showing the BC voter what weak lick spittles they are and the mainstream media becomes even more juvenile with their writings, with every days new miscue or political pratfall.

    As the daily farce in Victoria continues to escalate, we have become an international laughing stock, with our byzantine 18th century politics.

    For Gods sake, what Liberal MLA’s are not afraid to bell the cat? Cowards forever it seems!

    (Response; If he doesn’t go now … he will have no crediblity in the remaining months. But what I worry about are the Executive Orders he may sign, rewarding friends and supporters …with public money of course. h.o)

  7. Genuine says:

    Hey Harvey, I was going to ask you if gordo answered the question you asked him when he first took power,man you never stop amazing me,and I also made room in my attic,we’ll be needing it soon by the look of things ,I was thinking maybe we could get a fund together and ask southern fried stings and Jessie Ventura to investigate on the other side of the boarder,as Jessie is inclined to investigate anything the buildiburger group are involved in,(are they involved with burger king).

  8. Jonathan S says:

    Working at the time as one of those Paramedics who was legislated back to work. I have seen him as a dictator for quite some time. Imposing the will of Campbell on the people for some time. I for one would like to see term limits in place as they say Power corrupts absolutely.

    One other thing that kind of scares me is railgate happened in his first term in office. How many other shady deals and kick backs did we not hear about?

    (Response; Who knows …it may have affected the next election’s outcome. h.o)

  9. Paul says:

    And tonight Gordon Campbell will be attending a dinner in his honour where he will be presented with the inaugural:

    “Builder of the Decade Award”

    I didn’t make that up.

    Vancouver Convention Centre in Canada Place November 18, 2010

    M.J. Whitemarsh: “The Premier’s commitment to investing in the future of our province has meant new homes, schools, hospitals, highways, airports, colleges, universities, bridges, ports and even an Olympic Winter Games.”

    He really said that.

  10. Gary E says:

    Harvey now that you have opened the subject on the reversal of the 15% and have an opinion, I would like to put forth another scenario.

    The government has been getting deeper and deeper in trouble over the HST. Campbell goes on air to buy our complacency with OUR money. It doesn’t work and all indications are that he is in deeper trouble. A minister gets fired according to Hansen “by the Cabinet” But Campbell was previously in the room and leaves before that happens. So if anyone thinks that the cabinet did this without a tirade from Campbell insisting that “they” fire him deflecting more criticism from him, then I suggest they listen to, or read what type of person Bennett described.

    All Bennett did was bring to the forefront what many have suspected for a very long time. And Campbell blew a fuse.

    I fully expect that Bennett will be ejected from caucus after his news conference.

    (Response: You are right..he will be ejected. What I would watch more closely …and with more concern …is the remarks of those who may want to take over the leadership. They have to decide now … will it be the same old predictable scripted political crud from them, or the truth? And they could start telling the truth about what Campbell has been really like behind the scenes. h.o)

  11. Re: A Dave ” clearly, he’s refusing to leave until he covers all his tracks on BC Rail, otherwise a lot of influential people associated with that shady sale are going to remain very paranoid about a large boot that The Great Manipulator has prevented from dropping for nearly eight years now. ” You are so right. We should all demand an inquiry into BC Rail. We should NEVER allow this to die as the #1 issue in this Province.

  12. Norm Farrell says:

    Good article by H.O. with worthwhile contributions. ‘A Dave ‘ added an excellent point.
    It points a need for a pledge needed from BC Liberals, something like this:

    To preserve until after the next provincial general election all documents, correspondence and communications regarding the disposition of provincial assets, including but not limited to the BC Rail transactions for railroad, land and other assets.


    (Response: Lots of luck on getting them to pledge! The real responsibility should be taken by by the bureaucrats, who no doubt prepared all and any documents involved. h.o)

  13. Willy P says:

    Lekstrom, Huntingdon, Simpson and now Bennett. Hmmm- time to steal a play from the Gordon Wilson handbook, inject some common sense and form an alternative to the buzzards flapping frantically around the carcass of BC. Simpson might be an odd fit, but with the dissension in the ranks all over, they might attract some other……..vultures.

  14. Crankypants says:

    Rich Coleman, Mike DeJong and Kevin Falcon have all weighed in now on Bennett’s tirade and all seem to be singing from their Gordon Campbell issued songsheet. Seeing as they are all considered to be leading contenders for the throne, it looks as if we will be seeing business as usual from the BC Liberal Party, no matter who is at the helm.

    The only thing I can figure out is that Gordon Campbell has compromising pictures of the majority of his caucus, or said caucus have been following the pied piper for so long that they have lost the ability to think for themselves.

  15. Ruaridh says:

    “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go”

    Oliver Cromwell, 1653

    Just as appropriate today.

  16. BC Mary says:

    A media break-through occurred last evening on the “At Issue” segment of CBC National News.

    Obviously it’s worrying all three heavyweight journalists that governments not only can’t keep promises but seem to be making incomprehensible, bone-headed reversals of stated principles. Killing the Environment legislation which had passed the House of Commons and the Senate, but was then killed by a Senate Committee was what set them off. It was one of those sins (elected governments being vetoed by unelected Senate Committee) which Harper had vowed to change.

    There was also the “Our troops will come home from Afghanistan in 2011” changed without debate to “Our troops are staying in Afghanistan as trainers.” Ironically, it was the most reactionary of the 3 journalists — Andrew Coyne of Maclean’s — who was eloquently alarmed. He said, his voice rising … “It’s not happening once or twice, it’s happening [he pounds the desk] time after time after time …!” until, he demanded “How can we be expected to believe ANYTHING our governments tell us?” Yeah, this was Reactionary talking to Stephen Harper!

    And oh yes, Gordo the Magnificent was mentioned, if only re the H.S.T.

    It’s a vitally important issue. We all know that. But that’s what has been so hard to take, these recent years. I hate to say this, but I can’t forget trying to explain the BC Rail situation to Chantal Hebert, a few years ago. It was like talking to a brick wall. I gave up when she suggested that I was making it up. No kidding. She just couldn’t hear what I was saying.

    Well, I hope that yesterday was an epiphany for her, Andrew, and Allan Greg … and that wonderfully challenging new questions will be put on the public record (after suitable research) for the Government Liars to answer. Questions such as: How the heck can a government lose a big railway? And doesn’t British Columbia deserve to have a Public Inquiry into how BC Rail slid from public ownership into private pockets on a deal that’s still partly secret?

    (Response: If anyone checks my archives, they can see that I blogged some time ago about that National panel being anythnig BUT national. Typical CBC …get a few Central Canadians together ..and call it a National panel. Are there no experienced journalists in the Martiimes, the Prairies or the West who can do more than occasionally appear as “guest” replacements to discuss national issues? Apparently not in the Ontario/Quebec biased perspective of CBC. h.o)

  17. AJ says:

    It is interesting to read the comments regarding the dictatorial powers and actions of the BC Government. Obviously none of them had the joyous opportunity to be a Federal Government employee in the Trudeau years.

  18. BC Mary says:


    In this particular instance when CBC’s “At Issue” was discussing the veto of federal legislation which had passed the House of Commons and the Senate — I don’t understand the relevance of your comment. I think Hebert, Gregg and Coyne were right for that challenge … and their honest horror at the panoply of lying, cheating governments was worthy of our close attention, and our appreciation.

    But if last night’s CBC “at issue” panel had been discussing BC Rail (which, sorry to say, they weren’t), then I agree 100% that they would have needed some Western input.

    However, who would that be? If we’re looking for fair-minded professionals who could give a reasoned appraisal of why the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial is so important to the Province of B.C., who would you pick? Which B.C. journalist(s) have spoken up on the importance of the documentary evidence which — even as we speak — is at risk of being destroyed. Destroyed as if it’s legal to do so, when I feel sure that it’s blatantly illegal to destroy evidence which is not only part of provincial history but will (secret or not) shape the future of British Columbia.

    Which BC journalist(s) is speaking up for B.C. even now, in the depths of the crisis?

    Which BC journalist(s) have even admitted that BC is in a life-and-death crisis?

    Tell me, because I haven’t seen or heard from them yet.

    (Response: The journalists on the National’s panel do not “speak up” for their provinces: they offer a view of federal politics that reflects the provinces they cover. And not all (eg Alan Gregg) are journalists. Just off the top of my head, what would be wrong about having Gary Mason or Rod Mickelburg(fine reporters with BC backgrounds, or any of several federal pol sci profs at UBC or Simon Fraser, or similar from Alberta or the Maritimes? How can it be fair to have ALL the regular panelists on a “national” panel coming only from an Ont and Quebec perspective? h.o)

  19. Ron says:

    Isn’t the major shareholder of CN Rail the one and only Bill Gates????
    Try to get him, I’d like to see that. He’s bought and sold more than just a lowly province the size of BC. Small change to him. He’s holding Europe hostage right now!!! LOL
    I can just hear the shredders working overtime at the ledge, removing everything that’s touched Scambull over the last 10 years. Everything from rails, run of river, trash collecting, highways, bridges, prisons (with his ol’ pals from past incarnations of Lib gov’t’s now CEOs or Directors in these companies), Scambul has a huge swath to choose from to get the payoffs (edited..h.o.) when he goes (how about lap dog to Harper, via Bilderberg).
    Completely corrupt governmental system we have in Canada and nothing short of revolution and the deaths of taxpayers (after being jailed in these new prisons being built to house dissent) will stop the oligarchs from thieving everything that we, the taxpayers, should own and keep owning.

  20. BC Mary says:


    When someone speaks the truth of a dire situation, don’t you think they are speaking up for those involved? And I certainly fault the “At Issue” panel and CBC News in general for their seeming indifference to the B.C. crisis.

    But in this particular instance, I am referring to one outstandingly good “At Issue” broadcast on the wide, wide, alarming topic of “Can we ever trust anything Government tells us now”

    I’d be interested to know your response to their question.

    (Response: Frankly I’m surprised at their naievety. Politicians of every stripe change their minds (remember wage and price controls, climate change promises, or the flip flop of so many MPs on long guns etc ?) … they can just blame new circumstances … and get away with it. h.o)

  21. BC Mary says:


    From what you say, it appears that you didn’t see CBC Newsworld’s November 18, 2010 edition of “At Issue”.

    You would find nothing naive about their remarks. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

    It wasn’t the usual over-simplified-for-morons commentary on bad, bad politicians changing their minds. Andrew Coyne in particular, backed up by Chantal Hebert, was citing one enormous contradiction after another after another

    and the two other journalists (including Allan Gregg) were willing to defend and explain their positions. Most important — they were willing to sound the alarm. There was a sense that the script had been tossed, and a righteously angry passion took over. I was deeply impressed. I think you would be, too.

    Nor was blame being shared around, as you say: it was placed squarely upon Stephen Harper’s shoulders both for POLICY and then the OVERTURNING OF POLICY. Gordon Campbell was thrown in for emphasis.

    You should look it up in re-broadcast before casting aspersions. Like, you should be encouraging journalists to do more of this, if you really are concerned for the public good.

    As for Allan Gregg not being a journalist … well, ahem … are you telling us that polling, measuring, weighing, and analyses of political trends … isn’t part of modern journalism … and that you’ve stopped stopped even pretending that it is?

    Political blindness doesn’t occur only in Central Canada.

    (Response: There IS a BIG difference between a journalist reporter and an pollster analyst. h.o)

  22. BC Mary says:

    You might be interested in this overview of “what would be wrong with” your chosen journalists, Gary Mason or Rod Mickleburgh or others, who write about West Coast affairs for national readers:

    The wild, post-Basi-Virk results of stopping a major trial
    The Legislature Raids

    (Response; I’m not. h.o)

  23. Jason says:

    I literally moved my family out of BC into another part of Canada because of Gordon Campbell, and the impacts his decisions has made on my life (I’m a paramedic). Even if I was a garbage collector, my view of him would be no different as I keep updated on politics and how they affect my family’s life. The moment Gordon Campbell literally flicked a loonie at me and told me not to spend it in one place I knew I had to make a hard choice about my career and my ability to financially support my family. Now I’m in Ontario, and I don’t miss what is happening in BC one bit.

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