column was published in the North
Shore News on
May 22, 2002)
over, scale back the rhetoric
The excesses of groups opposed to the government of Gordon Campbell over the past few weeks have surpassed anything witnessed in recent memory for political protest thuggery, even for some groups known more for their penchant for intimidation than co-operation.
They crossed the line with their so-called Picnic at the Premier's protest march a few weeks ago, bringing Campbell's family and neighbours into the political maelstrom.
To show that there is no limitation to ignorance, the premier's wife suffered the indignity of having her office at Sir Winston Churchill school in Vancouver firebombed. Who might have committed this egregious act is left to the Vancouver Police to discern and good luck to them.
Nancy Campbell is a nice lady whose only sin was to love and marry the man who would later become premier. Destroyed in the attack was all her memorabilia from her career as a teacher. What did she do to deserve that?
Finally, not to be outdone, some big labour fanatics jeered and verbally abused the premier during a flight from the Okanagan to Vancouver. On the ground, the group tried to physically impede the premier and his party. From the descriptions of the event I have heard, it appears the Richmond RCMP need to have the assault definitions of the Criminal Code explained to them again.
One brave bright light, trying to do God-knows-what to Campbell, was himself physically blocked by West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling. To show his true colours, he then ran to the public complaint counter at Richmond RCMP detachment whining about Nebbeling's actions.
Nebbeling, who I must admit, has not impressed me thus far in his provincial political career, called a spade a shovel in this case and well done I say.
Now, considering what the province endured with 10 years of the most incompetent, ideologically driven and morally bankrupt government in the history of British Columbia, at no time, even with the recall campaigns or the mass rallies to get rid of the NDP, did anyone go near the private homes of government members. Well, except the RCMP that is. The difference now is the RCMP aren't at Campbell's house to search it, but to protect him.
Last Friday was the first anniversary of the Liberal landslide election win. They had over 55 per cent of the popular vote and still hold that margin to this day. What they have done thus far has been exactly what they said they would do.
They have had to adjust considerably since the campaign. A few small things got in the way. Little things like the American tariff on softwood lumber and something about an attack on the World Trade Center in New York. But they are forging ahead. Doing what they were elected to do.
The last time I ventured into this territory I got hate mail from some hard-line lefties who can't see past the nose on Lenin's face. I harbour no illusions about what may be arriving after this trip.
But hate mail (to a point) and legitimate protest is fair play. Both for columnists who take a firm position and for politicians doing the people's business. The premier's person, home and family are off limits. So too, are the other passengers on an airplane who are trapped by their circumstance and unable to escape the vitriolic abuse spewed forth by the union members on that plane and in the airport.
The union executive have since given the premier a lily-livered apology for their members' boorish behaviour. They have yet to apologize to all the others who have nothing to do with government and had to suffer that nonsense at 30,000 feet.
It's high time to scale back the rhetoric and dial down the potential for violence. The election's over and the groups on the political left got their hats handed to them by a majority of citizens fed up with their antics.
British Columbia is finally showing signs of life after a decade of economic atrophy. It has been a positive first year for the Campbell government. Despite a few errors, most notably in a flawed communications strategy, the recovery seems on. In the first quarter of 2002, despite the softwood duty and the cutbacks to the civil service, the economy grew 2.5 per cent and jobs increased by a net of 40,000.
Evidently the sky isn't falling.