Saturday, November 06, 2010


Who says the BC Rail trial is over? The people of British Columbia were the motive force that compelled Campbell’s resignation

People Power and Premier Campbell's Resignation

By Peter Ewart
November 05, 2010

Make no mistake. Despite what various pundits have speculated, it wasn’t the Liberal caucus that brought Premier Campbell down. It wasn’t the opposition party. It wasn’t the news media. Still less, it wasn’t Campbell’s “self-sacrificing” spirit for the “good of the province” that caused him to fold his cards.

Plain and simple. It was the people of British Columbia.

They were the motive force that compelled Campbell’s resignation over his decision to bring in the hated Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Across the province, hundreds of thousands of people stepped forward to participate in this unprecedented campaign, whether by joining FightHST, signing the initiative petition, participating in rallies, writing letters to the editor, and many other ways.

The Government has vast resources at its disposal. It has numerous shills and apologists who have used every means possible to throw mud at the FightHST movement and its leadership. And it has parliamentary processes that act like bull pens to keep the people corralled and docile, their participation in this democracy limited to voting just once every four years, the rest of the time confined to a kind of “elected dictatorship”.   It was this “elected dictatorship” that allowed Campbell to thrust the HST on the province just two months after an election campaign in which there had been no mention of the tax at all.

But there was one small breach in the fence of the “bullpen”. It was the Initiative and Recall Act, which was brought in twenty years ago, once again by the will of the people. The political parties in the Legislature did everything they could to make the Initiative and Recall Act extremely difficult for voters to use effectively. But not quite impossible.

Despite all the “barbed wire” put up, people were successful, collecting over 700,000 signatures in a short period of time in support of the Initiative. This feat of “people power” discombobulated the government and started the process of its unraveling, of which the resignation of the Premier is just one episode, with more episodes still to come.

The issue now for the people of the province is to keep up the pressure. The HST can and will be defeated. If whoever is left in the present government persists in defending it, they, too, will be swept away, as they should be.

There are those in the government and media who don’t want to acknowledge that the people of this province, as a collective body, have won a great victory. Some pundits have even gone so far as to buy into the fairy tale that the Premier has resigned for “family reasons”.

What they especially don’t want to acknowledge is that it is precisely because British Columbians took the issue into their own hands that this victory came about. Indeed, this victory was achieved because the people of this province refused to be confined to a political process that renders them passive and standing on the sidelines.

We need to defeat the HST. And we need to develop more and better mechanisms that will renovate and advance our democratic process so that “people power” and citizen involvement is not the exception, but rather the rule.

Peter Ewart is a writer and columnist based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at:

Footnote by Gene McGuckin:

The "people" should take heart from this victory.  BUT WE SHOULD NOT make the mistake of thinking that the other urgent battles we face--many launched by the BC Lie-berals--can be won by signing petitions. (And, indeed, the battle against the HST is not yet won either).
    Most future victories will require that we come together in a much more personal and powerful ways through huge sequential demonstrations, in civil disobedience actions, and ultimately by preparing and executing sustained general strike mobilizations.

BC Mary comment: I'm including the McGuckin comment -- not because it's anti-Liberal or even political, because that's not intended. I recommend the McGuckin comment because it seems to forecast the FUTURE of social democracy in which we join together to confront the urgent issues of the day.


Thank-you BC Mary. I have consistently come back to your website-blog over these last few years since you moved over from regular comments on The Tyee to your own well deserved journalist vantage point, for; opinion that I can trust, up-to-date information from the Basi Virk trial that was interrupted at it's most important stage(the trial, that is) and for constant encouragement to the average citizen reader. You are a beacon of light on the coastline.
Bravo! Keep on shining!
Bill V. was asked this week, if he felt responsible for Cambell's defeat. He said, in essence, "Of course not. It was the team behind me, and the more than 700,000 signators." But I think he was the Kingpin. If it hadn't been for Bill V., who put in enormous effort, who was the charismatic, the catalyst, the point around whom the public and the media did focus, this wouldn't have happened.

I think it meant more to people (than if it was the NDP) that he didn't appear to actually be running for anything, he was just mad as hell, like the rest of us.

But I think it's time now, for someone like Bill V. or Carole James - or somebody in public life - to start calling for a public inquiry into the whole BC Rail fiasco, especially the deal betweem prosecutors office, Basi-Virk, and who in the government had anything to do with letting B-V get off so easy.

Start calling for the public inquiry, and don't shut up....Anybody?
will carol james, if elected, return BC Rail to BC, make Basi pay his legal bills, ban raw log exports, share gaming revenues with charities, return laundry and food services jobs to CUPE, or will she just whine about raising minimum wage?

If so, might as well stay with the Devil you know, than the nincompoop you dont.
Campbell will do all he can to control the situation with no thought to the real consequences. This was clearly evidenced in the press conference where he used his family to try and soften the justly deserved criticism of his regime.

Campbell is nothing short of a phsycopath and cares not one iota about anyone else. His reasons for being this way - we will probably never truly know, but can only guess. For sure that narcissism plays a role as do other characteristice.

I think from here on in, the public needs to do some civil disobediance events, general strike etc., so the BC Liberal party really does get the message. At present the BC Libs are being totally ignorant and arrogant and seem to think that they control "everything".

The BC Liberal party need some serious wake up calls - nothing else will do.

The RECALL IN THE FALL should carry on regardless as this is just the one legal approach that people have for now.

How could the Devil we know be better than anyone or anything? I agree that we have to keep the pressure on.
I agree with Gene McGuckin - future victories (and Campbell resigning is not a victory) will require more than we've done so far - the corruption and complicity extends much further than the people you can get rid of through elections.

The crooks have had power long enough that you can be sure the bureaucracy is owned by them, at this point it hardly matters who is the MLA/Cabinet Minister - politicians come and go but the bureaucrats don't change.

Turfing the bureaucrats is going to be way tougher than dethroning one disposable leader or even putting a new political party into place.

The person in charge can't steal without the tacit consent of all those around them, the crooks at ICBC rigging bids couldn't do it without executive complicity.

The solicitor-general's office is as corrupt as they come (in charge of ICBC and RCMP) - it doesn't matter if it is John Les, Rich Coleman, de Jong, etc - the bureaucrats haven't changed.

The next step will be getting rid of political enemies using civil forfeiture, crooked ruling tactics haven't changed since the Romans.
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