Waters: The good, the bad and the ugly in Campbell’s three terms

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue that Gordon Campbell has not had an impact on British Columbia.

Of course, depending on where you stand politically, that impact has been very good or very bad. But the reality is—as it always is in politics—the record is not as good as he would have you believe and not as bad as his detractors say.

Economically, the province has done well under his watch — at least prior to the recent recession—but social programs have taken it on the chin and a few high-profile conversions have seen the him publicly flip-flop on issues.

When he swept to power in 2001, his first move was to make a massive tax cut. Politically popular, it sent provincial revenues into a tailspin and can be seen 10 years later as the beginning of the march to B.C.’s biggest debt level ever.

During his time as premier, Campbell also appeared to flip on his view of native affairs. Going from the only Canadian premier to ask the non-native majority to vote on the future rights of the native minority in an ill-fated referendum, he became a champion of native affairs during the Kelowna Accord, which the federal Conservatives killed upon taking office in 2003. Campbell also swapped positions with his NDP opponents as he strove to become Canada’s “greenest” premier with the introduction of North America’s first carbon tax. In a head-scratching move, the normally environmentally friendly NDP opposed the tax, saying it would be too costly for the economy.

And then there was the HST. 

When it was introduced, Campbell was unapologetic about the way it was brought about. But as public anger grew and with the success of the province’s first initiative to force a vote on the controversial tax, his tone changed. 

First he admitted it had not been introduced well and then the tax toppled him.

A move he so vociferously defended forced him from office.

This weekend, 10 years after he lead the B.C. Liberal’s to their first of three successive election victories, Campbell will be replaced as both party leader and B.C. premier. He will leave office with the lowest approval rating of any premier in B.C. history.

Under his watch the province won the right to host, and staged, the 2010 Winter Olympics, lauded like EXPO ’86 as a milestone in international recognition for B.C.

But thanks to the furor over the HST, the provincial government never really got to bask in the glory of the games or received credit for them.

So, as Campbell exits the political stage, his legacy will be left for others to write, others who will no doubt argue the good and the bad.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.


Just Posted

Getting into the swing of spring

Kelowna garden shop is busy now that spring has finally arrived

Axe the tax says Kelowna city council

City says it wants B.C.’s Speculation Tax dumped because it could have a significant impact here

Murder charges upgraded for Kelowna man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

Kelowna council ‘dumps’ Diamond Mountain development proposal

Location near city’s landfill prompts council to refuse to approve area structure plan for the land

Lake Country brain injury service expanding

CONNECT Communities is expanding to Hamilton, Ontario

Rainy week ahead for Okanagan and Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecast rain for the next three days, starting Tuesday afternoon

Familiar faces return for writer’s fest

Some of the best return to Word on the Lake in Salmon Arm

Viewer Photos: First day of Spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

RCMP warn public to stop pouring gas on fires after three incidents

Police responded to three recent incidents that sent seven people to hospital

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Elke’s Garden Tips: To prune or not to prune

Lake Country garden coach talks pruning in her weekly column

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read