Campbell looks to revive career with televised speech
Published Sunday, October 24, 2010 6:41PM PDT
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has booked TV time to revive his gasping political career, but the question politicians and pundits are asking isn't whether the premier can revive himself but whether anybody will be watching.
Those tuning in Wednesday to witness a prime-time retirement announcement will be disappointed because that isn't likely to happen, said political scientist Norman Ruff who predicted Campbell will say he has more work to do.
Campbell, expected to retire before the 2013 B.C. election, will likely use the television time to make amends for the way his Liberal government introduced the harmonized sales tax and announce plans to beef up a bare-bones economic agenda.
Campbell could not be immediately reached for comment on his speech.
The premier, who has won three straight elections, is at a low-point in his political career, with recent personal approval numbers below 10 per cent.
Ruff, a retired University of Victoria professor, said the current volatile political climate that's swirling as Campbell speaks to British Columbians is similar to a wild period late in former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm's tenure.
"He just lost six byelections and people were kind of wondering whether he was going to announce he was going to resign," said Ruff of Vander Zalm.
"But he went on the air and said, 'I have a job to finish.' And, I think that will be the theme on Wednesday. Campbell will go on the air and say, 'I have a job to finish."'
Ruff sees Campbell's job as two-fold: make amends for the way the government introduced the harmonized sales and re-focus on the economy.
"He needs to change the channel and talk about the need for a sustainable economic future of the province," he said. "On Wednesday, he will put it together as a more immediate package."
Ruff said Campbell's speech last month at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler touched on transportation projects throughout the province but it was criticized as warmed over versions of previous announcements.
Ruff said he expects Campbell to put more energy into those infrastructure projects Wednesday, but isn't convince there will be anything new.
"The big question mark -- is there anyone listening?" he said.
Campbell has already admitted his government did a poor job introducing the HST, which combines the five-per-cent federal Goods and Services Tax with the former seven-per-cent B.C. provincial sales tax for a combined 12-per-cent tax.
Many British Columbians believe the government hid their HST plans during the May election, only to introduce it weeks later.