Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knowing when to leave

Star athletes may not know when to leave. They remember money, cheers, luxuries and praise and the feeling of command and superiority. But, stay too long, the applause is muted and cheers turn to jeers. The lineup needs new blood but when faded stars hang on, the losses mount and wins decline. The inevitable can only be delayed at someone else's cost.

Politicians may be similarly reluctant to depart. Whether public careers last ten years or forty years, some officeholders cannot imagine changing roles.  They perceive themselves as leaders, not ex-leaders, not retirees. They are too important to step aside and presume much remains to be done that needs their particular skill.

Unfortunately, the experience of leadership feeds a person's capacity for narcissism. We all have that to some degree but individuals tended by platoons of minions, guarded by security forces, pampered by social elites and able to sign deals worth billions are vulnerable. The real world doesn't exist for them and the concept of fallibility remains abstruse.

So it is in Victoria. When Premier Campbell should have been packing up, he was in California at a a summit meeting of subnational politicos promoting a global green economy. Having exhausted political capital at home, perhaps he plans to travel the world for the next months preparing projects to follow his involuntary departure from Victoria.

British Columbia, to say nothing of the Premier's colleagues, would be better served if he left immediately and assigned the Premiership to someone supported by caucus. Someone, that is, other than Colin Hansen. The Finance Minister, author of the latest fudge-it budget and co-author of the HST blunders, should be departing as well. If anyone in government has less credibility and public confidence than Gordon Campbell, it is Colin Hansen.
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4 comments:

  1. Actually Norman, Hansen could be a useful interim leader - if Campbell would actually go. Hansen clearly has no chance to succeed the man, and, by staying on as a caretaker (rather than finance minister) he might give the rest of the executive council a chance to begin to establish another sort of image for the party.

    He could take a pledge - as Dan Miller did for the immediate post-Clark period - not to run for leader and just try not to misplace any more loose change (or alienate any other public assets) from the treasury for the duration.

    That way, the budget that must be delivered on the third Tuesday in February (preceded by a throne speech as a rule) could at least have the appearance of being crafted by someone other than the old crew.

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  2. G.West: I welcome your always intelligent contributions. However, on this one, we disagree.

    Campbell's performance was predictable from the start but I once had respect and admiration for Mr. Hansen. I've written numerous times here that he made a Faustian bargain after valuing ambition above principle. I believe they knew the true status of the deficit before the 2009 election and had set the course toward HST. Most statements afterward were bald faced lies.

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2009/08/faustian-bargain.html

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  3. Actually, I don't disagree that Hansen was in on the decision to adopt the HST at the earliest.

    This government has been very 'centralizing' since its inception and, knowing how the upper levels of the appointed bureaucracy work, I have no trouble believing that Hansen and Campbell were aware of the high-level emails between bureaucrats in the Finance Department and Ottawa prior to the election. Nobody at that pay grade is operating on their own in Campbell's world. Particularly a micro-manager with little or no real financial chops like Graham Whitmarsh...he was doing the boss's bidding all right.

    My point was meant to addresswhat I thought was the opportunity Hansen had (at a very late stage in the game) to do the right thing.

    I had dinner this evening with someone who was at a high level in Hansen's riding association before the 1996 election. This is someone who felt pretty much as you do (rather did) about the man and who is, as you are, now quite disappointed.

    I, on the other hand, have never felt much respect for Hansen and his work and was only suggesting that he (as deputy premier and minister of finance) could have acted differently since October 27.

    That is, his status in caucus might have given him the courage to do the right thing by standing up in a principled way and pointing out publicly what, to this date, only Bill Bennett and Blair Lekstrom have had the courage to express.

    I certainly didn't expect it from Hansen - but, if Campbell finally wakes up tomorrow and realizes he can't continue - then I'd still suggest Hansen is probably the only current cabinet minister who might be able to play Dan Miller to the BC Liberals.

    Cheers

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  4. Many BC people want to see the BC government gone forever. Hansen or De Jong, absolutely not, there is a rage towards Hansen and De Jong. After the crap they pulled, they both should be, tarred and feathered, and run out of town on the BC Rail that is, if we still had it. Campbell says, he has the full support of his cabinet. So, how can they be any different than Campbell? They fully supported his insanity. We will be, 50 years trying to dig our way out of this mess. However, Bennett is right. Campbell is pure el torro poo poo.

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