Success not final, failure not fatal: it’s courage to continue that counts

“If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.”

Playwright Neil Simon’s clever statement seems apt with news the Ida Chong recall fell short of signatures needed to trigger a by-election. Notice that I did not refer to the recall campaign as a failure. It was not.

Shortly after the May 2009 election, we became certain that Gordon Campbell’s Government achieved success through deceit and duplicity. I don’t need to recount details but the issues relate to debt, deficit and taxation. Liberal leadership, particularly Campbell and Hansen, reacted with smugness. Politicians who claimed for themselves great personal management skills suddenly knew nothing about negotiations underway for a tax that would account for more than $15 billion in their three year fiscal plan. Finance Minister Colin Hansen said the HST was not on the radar screen before the May 2009 election, even though he received a six-page briefing note in March 2009.

I said Liberal Party bosses reacted with smugness. Remember that news conference when they told us the “revenue-neutral” tax would save business and industry $2 billion a year and was the single best thing government could do for business. All the news they provided was positive although they had a copy of the C.D. Howe Institute study that warned imposing the HST in BC “will cause a short-term loss” in economic growth and employment.

We also learned that the elected Liberal caucus played no role in a new tax regime. They got the mushroom treatment – kept in the dark and covered with . . . –  and HST was presented to them as a fait accompli. The only role for Liberal MLAs was to go out and defend the huge tax shift. Campbell and Co. wanted no feedback, no resistance. The members were not supposed to represent their voters to government, they were required to do the opposite, to represent Campbell’s government to local voters. Only one way communication desired.

That was the background that launched both the HST Initiative Petition and the recall effort. More than 700,000 voters signed the successful petition. Gordon Campbell’s personal approval rating fell to about 10%. The tide against BC Liberals ran strong. Individual members knew their political careers could end and the government would fall. The only choice was to make a significant change in direction. Caucus rebelled and the leader was told to retire. Despite earlier stating his intention of continuing, Campbell suddenly announced his resignation.

A new Government will soon be in place. The disproportionate influence of big business is revealed. The opposition is being re-energized. The environmental movement is newly strengthened. Political journalism has changed. The monopoly of a few media dinosaurs is broken and new media has taken a role in the making of public opinion.

Recall workers, don’t feel discouraged. Success is at hand, a clear message was sent. The ship of state was forced to change direction. That is not failure.

Categories: Campbell.Gordon, HST

8 replies »

  1. These volunteers deserve a lot of credit. Their efforts should remind us all, that it takes more than posting idiotic comments on sites like the CBC to effect change.
    Thanks for the opportunity to realize a true example of democracy.

    Guy in Victoria


  2. I like your attitude Norm, absolutely this last year has seen a small but persistant progression of the collective conscience and you have helped in that effort. Thanks. Lord knows, we could all use a little encouragement right now!


  3. Thanks Norm – most appreciated. For those who think the Recall campaign lost, imagine how little discussion there would have been of the HST the last two months if the Oak Bay-Gordon Head Recall against Ida Chong hadn't happened.

    A successful Recall was the goal but overall our aim is to get rid of the HST; Recall is but a means to that end.

    Cheers – Bill Tieleman, Fight HST strategist


  4. Norm,
    I think the recall was a great success from many aspects if one looks at what transpired overall.
    It brought forth how corrupt elections B.C. is and to what ends they would go to unjustly stall and waste the time allotted for the recall process. It showed how Big business would use very underhanded tactics to suppress the recall and along with elections B.C. go so far as to threaten and intimidate the public.
    It brought forth to the people of her constituency the true Ida Chong and how little she does on their behalf ensuring she will never again be voted in to that riding.
    It showed the true state of things in B.C. and how this Government will stop at nothing less than intimidating the elderly with threats of fines and jailtime should their aging minds fool them into signing something twice.
    Above all it showed the willingness and bravery of volunteers, even facing harm, to carry on for something they believe in not just for themselves but for the good of all British Columbians. We need to thank them and show them future support.


  5. Hi Norm. Thanks for the acknowledgement of the bigger picture – this was but a battle lost, the war is yet to be decided. I worked on the Ida Chong recall campaign, and I can vouch that it was a grass-roots broad coalition of citizens that came together in common cause that re-instilled a sense of real democratic action in me. I tip my hat to all those who worked in the loose-knit volunteer organization that took on a well-oiled and funded political machine that had to use all the power of government and the corrupt media to slander citizens attempting to help voters exercise their democratic rights. This is not over. We've learned lessons the hard way. People in power do not give that up easily. Recalls have to be fought like election campaigns with effective resources and serious strategy. Next time we'll be ready. And there will be a next time – the Liberals have no intention of doing away with the HST – that's clear.

    Warren White
    Gordon Head, Victoria


  6. Not on this topic but on the liberal topic. I was perusing the net and found this article,

    The whole article was intriguing but what caught my eye was a particular part. Over at BC Mary there was talk about the potential involvement of the media. I have no way of leaving this message on her site so I am leaving it for you.

    Read it all but what I am referring to is towards the end of the article and reads as follows:

    “Media strategies that call for reporters to be “hand picked” for inside scoops and the presentation of groomed “supporters” to validate the government's message.

    A 2003 letter to Martyn Brown, then Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, that contains a job application from Bobby Virk, saying he was referred by Mr. Campbell and Lara Dauphinee, the executive assistant to the Premier.”

    Two things, 'hand picked', media, but more interesting is that Gordo and Lara gave a reference to Bobby Virk, a man who was under police investigation for drugs.

    You would think that to give a reference to a person, there should be some vetting of said person. Does this mean that Gordo and Lara were well aware of the 'drug' thing and didn't care or was Gordo complicit in the whole affair by not exercising the fiduciary responsibility of his office.


  7. Nope, this campaign was successful for all the above reasons. However, it is time to stop now. People are in a different mindset and it's a heckuva lot of work to carry out. Wait and see what happens next.


  8. The BC Liberals propaganda media, are a disgrace to their professions, they are Campbell's butt kissers. That they supported a monster like Campbell, turned me right off. My last newscast was, Ida Chong being televised, blaming the NDP for her recall. I am not NDP. However, if anyone deserved to be thrown out, It's Ida Chong. Non of the corrupt and evil doings, of Campbell and the BC Liberals, are ever reported, pure and utter bias. I am resorting to vote for the party, that is close enough to take the BC Liberals down. They are an abomination to BC and the citizens.


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