Gordon Campbell dug deeper into his political grave with disingenuous HST apology

Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen unveil their HST plans. Photo: Creative Commons

“I let British Columbians down with regards to the HST,” Gordon Campbell told Rosemary Barton on the CBC. “We weren’t nearly aggressive enough.”

Excuse me?

When Gordon Campbell went on the air this afternoon, I was expecting him to make amends with voters and apologize about the 2009 campaign in which he promised that there would be no HST under his government.

It turns out, he only wanted to apologize for “the way [he] communicated over the past few months”, wanting to be more “aggressive” and saying that his communication had “let British Columbians down.”

No, Mr. Premier. Your communication has become the least of our concerns; your integrity has become the issue here, and British Columbians are tired of being lied to.

To his credit, his apology was well-delivered and sincere (sounding, at least). But this has not been the first time that Gordon Campbell has apologized remorsefully for unpopular policy.

In the 1997 Liberal convention, Mr. Campbell listed a plethora of mistakes before declaring that his B.C. Rail policy was wrong. “Lesson learned,” he declared with conviction.

In 2001, he campaigned with a definitive promise: “A B.C. Liberal government will not sell or privatize B.C. Rail.” After his election and two years of provincial enabling, CN bought B.C. Rail for an incredulous one billion dollars.

And so perhaps we should not have been so surprised when Mr. Campbell implemented the Harmonized Sales Tax after promising a month prior that he would not do so. Indeed, it seems the HST fiasco is the microcosm of the Campbell premiership- a lie on endless loop.

And so this afternoon, with the headline blaring “HST Apology”, Premier Campbell had every opportunity to take the fall for the HST, to allow himself to fall from grace, knowing—even admitting—that he had lost the trust of B.C. voters yet again. But he never did so.

“We knew we would pay a political price, I certainly did,” Campbell acknowledged. “I am going to try to re-establish and earn their trust.”

No, sir, we have given you two chances too many already. The best thing you can do for your party now is to distance yourself from it, because if this sentiment continues, we may be in for the polar opposite of the 2001 election that brought you to power.

One Vancouver businessman, who has voted Liberal for the last sixteen years, told me that he would vote for the NDP, even though they are, as he says, “complete nonsense.”

“I cannot vote for the Liberals because they lie,” he declared. “I cannot keep voting for someone who keeps lying to me.”

But what if Campbell doesn’t seek the premiership again?

“It gives me a chance to consider [the Liberals],” he said after a short pause.

Unfortunately, if Mr. Campbell’s comments today are any indication, we may be soon seeing the party of “complete nonsense” running the tables in Victoria.

“As long as British Columbians give me the opportunity to serve as Premier, I’d love to do that,” Campbell said in response to a question asking whether he would seek re-election.

Wrong answer. Because when the most hardcore of Liberal voters are voting NDP to protest your dishonest rhetoric and sleazy political maneuvers, your fourth bid for the premiership only digs the B.C. Liberals into a deeper hole.

“Sometimes you have to do what’s right,” he mused about the political sacrifices of the HST.

What’s right for your party right now is for you to fade quietly into the background and for the Liberals to reinvent themselves for the next election. The polls show that the writing is on the wall for you, and B.C. voters will not forget your deceit so easily this time, especially when reminded by the numbers on their receipts.

But, as usual, Gordon Campbell has not been persuaded

Head firmly planted in the sand, he only keeps digging, deeper, ever deeper, into his political grave.

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