Thursday, November 04, 2010
Bye, Mr. Premier. Wish I could think of something nice to say, you having been the premier for nine long years now. But I can't.
Social conditions have worsened significantly under your leadership. You have insulated yourself from the people, choosing to surround yourself with paid cheerleaders who told you what you wanted to hear. I can’t tell you how many times the phrase, “The emperor has no clothes” has come to my mind when thinking about your governance style.
There was a moment when I glimpsed the human being that I know must be inside you. It was after you got busted for driving drunk in Maui. You came home to what must have been the most horrendous press conference you've ever had to be part of, and I saw in your eyes a man in real pain.
I wish you'd let that guy loose more often - the guy who knows what it feels like to screw up, to not always be the golden one. Your government operates like it's never known a moment like that. If I was going to describe the B.C. Liberals in a few words, I'd say: "Smug and dangerously certain."
These are complex times, Mr. Premier. I do know a little about your life, and that you've experienced complex events. So how come it never feels like you bring that personal experience to bear when making decisions for British Columbia?
You guys feel cold as ice in so much of your decision-making. It’s like being run by a corporation. And that is not a good thing when so much of what a provincial government does is about looking after people.
Thanks to you, I do have a better understanding that the business model can be put to good application in much of what government does. But I guess I also have you to thank for showing me its striking limitations.
You will not be remembered well by people like me, but who knows - you still have years to go in your life, and are uniquely placed as a former premier to do some really good work out here in the world should you put your mind to it. I never say never.
But I don’t think you can be expected to be forgiven easily, and certainly not by me. I’ve actually met people who your government has pulled the rug out from under. OK, you’re just the premier, but you set the tone. And it’s way off.
I’m a media type, always looking for someone to talk to. I’ve noticed that people have become much more fearful about speaking up under your leadership. That says volumes about the climate you’ve created in government.
In fairness, it hasn’t all been bad.
You’ve definitely made B.C. a better place to do business, and that needed to happen. You pulled off the Olympics - and I admit, I sat riveted in front of the TV for much of it despite my fervent vow that I would boycott the whole thing.
You got things going with First Nations. That’s particularly impressive given how very far back some members of your government were on that issue when you first came to power.
And I think all-day kindergarten will turn out to be a good thing in years to come, even though it’s also a prime example of the kind of shove-it-down-your-throat style of government that has brought you to this point.
My sense of you is that you never had a clue what consultation is actually about. You seem quite certain that you know best about everything.
But you don’t. You can’t. That’s how it is for everyone, Mr. Campbell. We all need help figuring out the problems of life, even premiers.
Why have you never been able to see the tremendous potential for transformation you have right here in your own communities? Why do you always think that the people you talk to in your high circles are wiser than the people who are actually doing the work for you here in B.C.?
I’ve been a manager, too. I know the compulsion to have a finger in every pie, control over every situation.
But if you could have only let that go, you would have seen that everything you needed to lead B.C. into prosperity and stability was right there among your citizens. We were actually doing a lot of things right before you showed up.
We didn’t anoint you king, Gordon - we elected you premier, “first among equals.” I just don’t think you ever got that.