Pre-election feuds, Gordon Campbell and Ujjal Dosanjh
It was 18 years ago, in 2001 that Ujjal Dosanjh lost an election and imposed on us Gordon Campbell. Dosanjh lead the NDP to its demolition (reduced to 2 seats in the House) in 2001 because he, with the connivance of Mike Harcourt, de facto killed the Recall and Initiative Referendum result after it being voted for by 83% of the electorate. Incidentally, I co-authored the book: “Recall & Initiative – the Quest for Democracy in British Columbia” chronicling the suppression of the public will. While Dosanjh had indisputably earned his defeat, I do not say that the rise of Campbell was not a bad event for us but that is another story.
Dosanjh was the “socialist” Premier of BC at the time and Gordon Campbell was the “capitalist” Leader of the Opposition. Seizing and splitting the Society’s Legislature in rigid domains separated by hard lines is an inevitable outcome of party-o-cracy and, in our instance, the process is accelerated by the electoral system in force. These are easy to deduct in the abstract. The event I relate is one recurring ceaselessly in a partyocracy, it is kind of a recurring skirmish in the perpetual Party Wars.
The Boss of the biggest party in the fragmented legislature becomes premier and gets virtually unfettered access to the Public purse and the peoples’ pockets. Premiers and Prime Ministers, all of them, to various extents, succumb to temptation to dip into the peoples’ purse for partisan purposes. Primarily, they pilfer money to buy their party electability, and to make people leery of their unworthy opponents.
Well, aware of the public disdain he had earned by trampling the 83% vote for Democracy, Dosanjh dipped into the public purse for “bragging money” to buy ads in the hope of dousing the flaming public ire he had ignited. I t was too late, It could not and did not work for him.
The “government” ads irked Gordon Campbell and his election PRopaganda troops, reacted to that. They counter-attacked by drawing public attention to the NDP brag-ads and castigated the NDP for bleeding the public purse for party election gain.
Well, this duel became notorious and bothersome regardless of one’s political orientation. I was offended by the abuse of high democratic empowerment (the premiership); and the failure of the media to make society aware of the nature of the wrongdoing – it could be that the media were enjoying the resulting revenue windfall and this may have influenced their “independence”, who knows ...
I thought Campell could do better for himself and serve society well by focusing on the process being lopsided, instead of dwelling on the process itself. That is to say, evil is not necessarily the publishing of “governance news”, Evil is that the “news” is lopsided and therefore discriminatory.
In DonQuixote mindset, I took pen to paper and suggested to Campell as follows; Cease blaming Dosanjh for pilfering public money for partisan purposes. The people see that and many of us are taking it all in stride, sort of being “normal”. Instead of crying “foul”, go along with the “necessary” government advertising” and fight for “equal space” for her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the Government ads. I suggested he tell the electorate that Dosanjh was not playing straight, that he was loading the dice, thereby rendering the election into a bad crap game.
Point out to the people, I suggested, that since the management of public affairs has come to be done by the Government and the Opposition duality, the latter is entitled to oppose the former on the Government ads as it does on the floor of the House. Therefore, if the ads are indeed necessary, they should tell both sides of the story. The electorate that is about to adjudicate the parties’ feud need to know both sides of the story, this having been established since the Golden Age of Athens. Campbell never responded to my suggestion.
Incidentally, my suggestion would save public money, because Dosanjh would stop doing “governent” ads, if they were to be counterwighted by “the other side of the story”.
Campbell’s ignoring of my suggestion has another important dimension. He could do that only because he could hide his denial from the public and turn a public contribution “private”. This aspect of the event is not a “peripheral” or an “incidental”, it is really a behemoth hurdle in the course of our quest for Democracy.
Why do I write this old story now? I do it now because we are under the full impact of electorate “news” attack by the feds; and because, we in B.C., already feel the approaching Provincial Parties melee.
I write about it because of the “public complacency” the parties have induced which have made us “grin and bare it, that which is really is stealing public money for private gain. It is time to call a spade a spade.
And because we must clawback the “freedom of politicians” to raid our pockets for money to spend on PRopaganda directed to “fool us” into believing that the Democracy we have, is all the democracy that we could have.