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.