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Monday, May 23, 2005

Is BC the shining example of how to do politics? For now...

In a strange topsy-turvey, through the looking glass kind of week, political events in Ottawa have been even crazier than in BC ­ and we are no strangers to nutty politics here in Lotus Land.

After all, we are the province that churned through six premiers in ten years ­ and that doesn’t include interim folks like Dan Miller. As we’ve all heard, Gordon Campbell is the first premier to achieve a second term in over twenty years.

Clearly, we appreciate a little scandal and malfeasance with our politics.

We see it as one of our defining characteristics as British Columbians: coffee, yoga, walks on the seawall and governments lurching from disgrace to disgrace (often accompanied by brown paper envelopes filled with cash or new decks constructed with murky provenance).

Which is why, for many, the last provincial election campaign was so boring and what has happened in Ottawa in the last week has been so fascinating.

The BC campaign was marked by articulate, respectful, balanced dialogue. We might as well have been in Toronto. Where were the fireworks, the personal foibles, the people in the streets screaming for blood?

I’ll tell you where they were: in Ottawa.

In the past short seven days, we’ve had betrayal, scandal, personal lives torn asunder, and terminally ill politicians braving the spectre of death to vote in Parliament. We’ve had beautiful blondes, beautiful brunettes, and some pretty ugly old men grabbing headlines with back-stabbing and secret tapes.

We’ve seen a heart-broken young buck back on the farm with his dog and the doll-smashing Carolyn Parrish welcomed back into Federal Liberals with open arms. To top it all, I have to wonder if Alice felt so strange as Canadians did seeing uber-Reformer, Chuck Cadman, who has pushed this government for 12 years for a tougher justice system, supporting Liberals in the non-confidence motion.

And all this while the Queen shook hands with farmers in Saskatchewan in the midst of a torrential downpour.

If a young novelist had written a political thriller based on these events, the publishers would have rejected it as unbelievable (though, frankly, the relationship of Stronach and McKay was a pretty shaky premise to start with).

We just need a body to show up on the steps of the Peace Tower and Canadians would have their own mini-series ready for HBO. We could call it “Desperate Politicians”.

So, with the sun shining here in BC and our uneventful election campaign over, let’s take a moment and be uncharacteristically smug. We have a maturity in our political system that the Federal government would do well to emulate. For once, we are the model on how a government should be run and a campaign should unfold.

I wonder how long we can keep in up?

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