Saturday, January 17, 2004

From bad to worse in the land of Gordo

The first three weeks of 2004 have certainly been a rather miserable barometer for British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. His government just seems to keep stumbling from one incident to another with no relief apparently in sight. The new year hadn't even begun when he received word of the RCMP raid on the Parliament Buildings in Victoria. There's really no better sight for a democracy than that of Police officers carrying box after box of files out for investigation. It gave a whole new definition to the term Boxing Day..

Not wanting to rush back from his vacation, he sent his trusted finance minister Gary Collins back home to sniff out the stench (he too was in Hawaii on vacation, it seems the province can run itself over the holidays). Collins apparently not too concerned, quickly returned to Oahu the next day with the details. By the time the sun had set in the Pacific off Diamond Head, two BC Liberal aides had either been suspended or sacked.

The police rather tight lipped about it all, just gave tantalizing hints as to what may come. Drugs, money laundering, commercial crime, organized crime, pick your poison, all could be on the docket by the time this makes it to court. The various media sources in BC, without any real meat to chew on have been chasing down leads and rumours everywhere. We're treated to links to the Federal Liberals, instant party memberships, Monster Houses and Grow Ops all intertwined in whatever it is the RCMP is investigating. The pundits have a field day, the newspapers fill columns and guests on Rafe Mair and Bill Good weave more conspiracies than those JFK fanatics ever had. Television provides "comprehensive" coverage, everyone it seems has an opinion as to what is coming and how it will affect the Premier and his government.

Finally the premier ended his visit to Hawaii returning to the province to hold his first caucus meeting of the year. All hands are on deck showing a united front, there's nothing to worry about we're all informed. At this same time for some inexplicable reason Campbell decides to re-apply for his drivers license. Now this normally would not be a big deal, except for the Premier there is that nasty little episode in Hawaii last New Years when he was arrested for DUI. With his apparent need for a drivers license, the media take great glee in the opportunity to once again publish his mug shot from his Hawaiian indiscretion. There's really no better sight for a democracy than that of a Premier's mug shot in the newspaper. Especially at the same time that there is a police investigation whirling around his party. A prudent political advisor might have foreseen this possible free shot and suggested the Premier take a taxi for a couple of more months.

Today yet another sidebar story surrounding the Premier, and while it really has nothing to do with him, his name once again makes it into the newspapers, on the radio and as part of the nightly television news. A relative by way of marriage, who is also the head of a government agency, is the subject of interest from a special prosecutor. There are apparently concerns about business practices at a truck dealership he ran in Prince George prior to his career in government. Oh by the way, he was also a former president of a BC Liberal riding association. Just another fine bit of publicity for the government of the day to deal with. All of this explains why the Premier was in no hurry to get home from vacation, out of sight out of mind may be the new operating policy for the government.

With all of this going on, one must wonder what exactly is going on in this province. Our largest cash crop would appear to be high grade marijuana, a crop which the government receives no revenue from. The operatives of the political party in power are mired in suspicion, stuck under a magnifying glass and dragging their respective ministers into the light with them. Grow Ops, money laundering, organized crime, who knows what is next. Makes you think that maybe we should change the name of the Province from British Columbia to British Colombia, but then again, things seem to be under control down in South America, not sure of the same in the Northern Hempishere.

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