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CONTRIBUTION · 8th November 2010
Will McMartin - theTyee.ca
Will McMartin Shoots Down Squawking Gaggle of Campbell Praisers

A 'great' premier whose fiscal skill made BC 'great' for business? The facts say no.

Is it ironic, or just plain weird, that while only nine per cent of British Columbians currently hold a positive view of Gordon Campbell, close to 100 per cent of the mainstream media remain deeply infatuated with our soon-to-be ex-premier?

Consider the editorial published in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 4, one day after the deeply unpopular premier announced that he was quitting politics. "Gordon Campbell," the Globe bleated, "will be judged as one of the great premiers of British Columbia."

Seriously? By whom? The great unwashed certainly don't hold that view, and no political historian could claim with a straight face that Campbell's accomplishments in office compare favourably to those of such provincial giants as W.A.C. Bennett, John Hart, or Richard McBride (or even Duff Pattullo or John Oliver).

Heck, even Dave Barrett (in just three and a half years) left a more substantive legislative catalogue than did Campbell (over 10 years), had a better surplus-deficit record and left a smaller taxpayer-supported-debt-to-GDP ratio (seven per cent compared to Campbell's 17 per cent).

Maybe the Globe editorialists, headquartered as they are in distant Toronto, just don't know much about B.C., our politics, or our history.

Yet, on the same day as the Globe head-scratcher appeared in print, a Vancouver Sun editorial gushed that Campbell was "one of B.C.'s great leaders." And the Sun's opinion leaders actually reside in this province. Hmmm.

Less surprising was the morning-after-resignation paean by CKNW radio talk-show host Bill Good. Reciting a list of the premier's alleged feats, Good had the gumption to include the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, which was built without a business plan and at a cost $346 million higher than B.C. taxpayers had been promised. (Original budget: $495 million. Final bill: $841.2 million.)

Remarkable. Truly, Gordon Campbell must be one of the "great" ones.

Praise, but no proof


A closer look at the encomia for Campbell from the media elites reveals that their minority view is based almost entirely on his fiscal record.

The Sun praised Campbell's "sound fiscal management," and claimed that his efforts made British Columbia "a better place to live and work." The paper also stated that he had convinced investors that B.C. was "a great place to do business." No empirical evidence was offered to support any of these assertions.

The Globe took a similar path, but made the bizarre claim that Campbell had "transformed the province's finances." Again, not a jot nor a tittle of empirical proof was provided.

As for Good, he repeated the hoary myth that Campbell "took over a province that had achieved 'have-not' status under the NDP" and then restored it to greatness.

It actually is shocking how loathe are the mainstream media to undertake even a minimal amount of research -- especially when so much of B.C.'s fiscal information is readily available online or in public libraries. Would it have been so very difficult for the Globe, Sun or Good to spend even a few minutes analyzing Campbell's fiscal accomplishments before declaring that he belongs in the pantheon of B.C. "greats"?


Read the entire article with facts and figures Here at the Tyee
How to paint a 9% legacy?
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 9th November 2010
How could a BC Premier serve almost a decade and end up with a voter approval rating of less than 9%? As a number of pundits have pointed out, that is less than Richard Nixon when he was run out of office, less than Glen Clark when he resigned and probably less than Amor de Cosmos.

Campbell’s reign has been lengthened with support from the Southern media. This is evident in their latest attempt to paint his legacy brighter in direct contradiction of his dismal approval rating. He’s leaving; it is not a time to be critical but it is also not a time to be gushing admiration and love especially when you are part of the media that gave him a longer mandate.

What changed to cause his demise? I submit that it was internet and people using it who took over the responsibility of reporting the ugly truths avoided by the mainstream media (MSM). Former journalists who saw the light, former journalists who got tired of being told what they should write to please the employers, people who just got fed up and couldn’t take it anymore all played a role.

People now have access to the internet and news sites which openly invited contrary opinions and post them all can claim a degree on independence other media can not. They do not fear having their facts challenged and essentially pushed the envelope while the MSM failed to change. Campbell’s rise may be the result of the support of the southern media but his decline is the direct result of online news sites like the Terrace Daily and the Tyee and hundreds of individual bloggers monitoring political news in BC. That the likes of Bill Good and Christy Clark on CKNW still hang on to the old myths in politics while moaning the loss of the liberal leader is proof that people are smarter than they or Campbell thought.

In politics longevity is often admired; even ruthlessness appeals to some but neither should hide the true legacy. If we shade the past in some golden hue that is undeserved, we are destined to repeat the same mistakes.

Re; McMartin's article
Comment by Barry English on 9th November 2010
I did read Will McMartin's article, and one thing that jumped out of the page at me was tha fact that prior to the "Tax-and-spend" era of the NDP, turning "BC into a have not province", Social Credit governments under various premiers had recieved equalization payments from Ottawa five time. And since then, Campbell has recieved them five times , even though it has been proven that he was handed a large government surplus when he took over BC. Incidentally, Quebec with all of its people, resources, manufacturing etc., has almost always recieved these equalization payments.

No, I don't think that Campbell did a great job, and no, I will not thank him for his "years of public service". He was extremely well compensated, and it is not over yet.