Goodbye to All That

Posted by Daniel on Mar 15, 2011

With his announcement today that he is resigning his legislative seat to make way for Christy Clark, former premier Gordon Campbell ends a career in politics that began almost 40 years ago when, as a wet-behind-the-ears 24 year old, he signed on as an assistant to Vancouver's then-mayor, Art Phillips.

After a stint in the property development business, Campbell began his own run as an elected politician in 1984 as a Vancouver alderman. This was followed by three terms (1987-93) as the city's mayor, after which he jumped to provincial politics. (We tend to think of this as the conventional route for a politician in BC but when I thought about it I was surprised to find that Mike Harcourt has been the only other Vancouver mayor to become premier.)

By 1993 the provincial Liberal Party, miraculously, had risen from the grave under its leader, Gordon Wilson, to become the official opposition in the legislature. When Wilson stumbled into personal scandal, Campbell was there to win the party leadership and, in a 1994 byelection, a seat in the legislature. In the 2001 provincial election, Campbell led the Liberals to victory and he remained premier until the HST did for him and he was forced to resign last fall. You have to go all the way back to W.A.C. Bennett to find a premier who managed to stay as long in office.

Campbell has said that he will not be writing a memoir, but I'd be willing to bet that his biographer is already at work.