The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Campbell 'fesses up

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has admitted that his blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit when he was charged with drunk driving while on holidays in Maui. Reports surfaced yesterday that the premier's blood alcohol level tested a "staggering" .149, well in excess of the legal limit of .08. Campbell confirmed this fact this afternoon when he spoke to the media after a cabinet meeting in Victoria.

This further clouds Campbell's claim that he had only had three martinis and two or three glasses of wine that fateful Thursday night. Experts in the field estimated that Campbell would have had to have consumed ten drinks from 5:30 that evening until he left sometime after midnight to have a blood alcohol of .08; it would have taken about four more to attain a level as high as Campbell blew.

This leads one to conclude that the martinis were about four ounces each, and the glasses of wine about twice the size served in licenced establishments! The website describes a person with a blood alcohol of .15 as having "impaired balance and movement -- clearly drunk."

How this affects the public reaction to the whole drunk driving mess is still up in the air, but this news further casts doubt on the premier's version of the story. It's now clear that Campbell was more than a little over the legal limit when he was driving, so this was not a technical infraction. Campbell said that he was driving a "short distance." The distance that he was driving was 17 km, along a twisty highway. If more facts that don't jibe with Campbell's statements, his standing in the public eye, which is already shaky, could further drop.

Opinions about what the premier should do continue to pour in. On Monday morning, former Social Credit cabinet minister Rafe Mair, who now hosts British Columbia's most popular radio talk show, said that while Campbell is not constitutionally obliged to step aside, he should anyway. Opposition leader Joy MacPhail has called for the premier to resign, as has Green Party leader Adriane Carr.

Campbell's cabinet and caucus remain solidly supportive -- for now. Solicitor-General Rich Coleman, the province's "top cop" said that if he were charged with drunk driving, he would resign, but doesn't think it appropriate for the premier to do so. He skated around the issue marvellously, as Vaughn Palmer describes.

CTV News at Six anchor and CKNW talk-show host Bill Good, who is chummy with Gordon Campbell, has declared that because the premier has decided not to resign, the public should move on. I gather, then, that Good believes that Campbell should not pay any political price for his transgressions.

Globe and Mail political scribe John Ibbitson has argued at that Campbell should temporarily resign as Premier, and run in a by-election in his own riding a la Sheila Copps in 1995. Campbell's cabinet ministers, including Rich Coleman, argue that it's not so simple for the First Minister to step aside for a few months -- this may be true, but it seems unlikely that any interim leader would be unable to continue to implement the Liberal agenda, especially with the Liberals holding 75 seats in the 79-seat legislature. It seems more likely that the Premier so dominates the Cabinet (he has a reputation as a control freak) that there's a fear that the operation would be bogged down without his presence. Whatever.

Even if Campbell did resign to run in a by-election, it's likely that he would be returned to Victoria. Campbell's riding of Vancouver-Point Grey is upscale, and has not been negatively affected in the way that other parts of the city and province have been by the Liberal agenda. Vancouver-Point Grey was NDP from 1989 to 1996, but that was because of the Bill Vander Zalm government, not due to a temporary conversion to socialism. Vancouver city councillor Jim Green gave Campbell a run for his money in the riding in 1996, but it seems unlikely that the denizens of Point Grey would turf a fiscally conservative Premier.

For those that think that Campbell should stay, perhaps the best suggestion comes from the Calgary Herald's Catherine Ford, who thinks that Campbell should spend the next 12 months living the life of a citizen who has been convicted of drunk driving. No government car, no driver, having to use cabs, the bus, car pools, having to miss social engagements, and bumming rides from friends or the wife. I like it. I'm not convinced that the premier must resign, but I do think that he should show the same forgiveness, understanding, and compassion to the people of whom he asks the same.
Victoria Times-Colonist legislative scribe Les Leyne on government in B.C.:
The process of governing this province and the people who attempt it absolutely mystify me. Going back 15 years or more, every single time you think things will calm down and the political scene will stabilize, something bizarre happens. Every single time you think the scene will calm down long enough for some long-range policies to be implemented, something throws it off course. Every single time you think a leader or a cabinet will settle down and earn a chance to mature and gain experience in office, something happens to shoot the dream of responsible, respected leadership down in flames.

Eight premiers in 17 years, 19 years since a premier was re-elected. A list of people who have held cabinet positions of varying durations that's long enough to look like the voters list. Enough policy course changes through resignations, scandals and various abrupt reversals to make B.C. a standing joke.

If you get the government you deserve, we must have collectively done something wrong somewhere along the line.

This was extracted from Leyne's Tuesday column, which ran in both the Times-Colonist and the Regina Leader-Post.

Couldn't have said it better myself. It's times like this when you wonder if those in the "rest of Canada" think that B.C.'ers are incapable of governing themselves. Sometimes, I wonder myself.
A reminder that for those of you who want your own T-shirt, beer mug, greeting card, teddy bear, or "flying disc" featuring Gordon Campbell's mugshot, just visit this shop. The merchandise is being hawked by Kootenay Cuts, whose members are proving -- inadvertently or not -- that you can oppose Gordon Campbell and still like, or at least take advantage of, capitalism.
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