Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell

Missing image
Gordon Campbell

Rank: 34th Premier
Term of Office: June 5, 2001–Present
Predecessor: Ujjal Dosanjh
Successor: incumbent
Date of Birth: January 12, 1948
Place of Birth: Vancouver
Spouse: Nancy Campbell
Profession: Teacher
Political affiliation: Liberal
For the recipient of the Victoria Cross, see Gordon Campbell, VC
For the Scottish Conservative politician, see Gordon Campbell, Baron Campbell of Croy

The Honourable Gordon Muir Campbell (born January 12, 1948) is the current Premier of British Columbia. He is the leader of the BC Liberal Party, which holds a majority in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Rise to power

Campbell attended public school (University Hill) in Vancouver, British Columbia. He then studied at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. He later earned a Master of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.

From 1986 to 1993, Campbell served as the Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia for three terms. He was also a secondary school teacher, basketball and track coach in Yola, Nigeria, working under the auspices of CUSO. He and his family climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser for Alzheimer's, raising $130,000.

Campbell and his wife Nancy, a school vice-principal, have two sons Geoffery and Nicholas.

Campbell became leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party in 1993. His party failed to be elected to power in the 1996 BC provincial election despite winning a plurality of the vote. He remained opposition leader under NDP Premiers Glen Clark, Dan Miller and Ujjal Dosanjh. Under Clark and his successors, the NDP's approval rating dropped into the low teens and in the BC election of 2001 Campbell's Liberals defeated the NDP, taking 77 of 79 seats in the legislature.


Premier Campbell with
Premier Campbell with Queen Elizabeth II

Though leader of a nominally Liberal party, Campbell is usually identified as being small-c conservative, a neoconservative in the mold of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Mike Harris, particularly in matters of business and economics. Social policy has a very minor role in the Liberal platform. The Liberals presented a detailed program of campaign commitments in 2001, but Campbell's main message to voters was that B.C. needed lower taxes and a smaller, streamlined provincial government in order to attract investment and grow its economy. As a first step in government, Campbell announced a 25 per cent reduction in personal income taxes, cutting the income tax rate for the bottom two tax brackets to the lowest level in Canada, and reducing taxes on the first $60,000 of income. Campbell predicted that the measure would soon pay for itself. In the following months, the government reduced the staff complement in its ministries, and announced a plan to eliminate one-third of all regulations then in force. By 2004 Campbell's policies resulted in British Columbia's economic competitiveness improving to second in Canada after Alberta.

The Province of British Columbia stands astride an economic and political chasm which has divided the urban and rural areas, cynically referred to as "604" and "250", named for the area codes of those regions. While the urban areas have been the beneficiaries of many federal and provincial government intitiatives the rural areas have suffered through the longest and deepest period of economic depression in modern times, resulting in depopulation of small resource based communities, removal of government services such as courts, healthcare facilities and the outright closure of nearly 120 public schools.

Campbell has demonstrated an ongoing interest in political reform especially electoral reform. Having won a popular vote and lost an election before becoming Premier, Campbell was sensitive to the fairness issues in the first past the post system. Early in its term, his administration introduced fixed-term elections for B.C., departing from the standard British parliamentary procedure, to ensure that the governing party would not be able to use political objectives to determine election dates. British Columbians will go to the polls in May 2005, exactly four years after the last election.

Campbell also founded a Citizens' Assembly composed of randomly-selected British Columbians from around the province. The Assembly has advised adopting the Single Transferable Vote system in future elections, which will be put to a province-wide referendum.

Campbell removed the six-year long tuition freeze that was placed on the B.C. universities and colleges by the NDP government. Through inflation, the tuition freeze had made B.C. tuition rates among the lowest in Canada. In 2002, Campbell also introduced the "double the opportunity" initiative, the goal of which was to double enrollment in electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and medicine in the next four years. Also, he helped pay for LUE. The unfortunate fallout of this initiative has been a tripling of tuition costs, resulting in huge drops in enrollment at non-Lower Mainland-based post-secondary institutions.

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Premier Campbell after arrest for DUI

On January 9, 2003, Campbell became the first premier in Canadian history to be arrested while in office when he was caught by police on holiday in Maui, Hawaii while driving under the influence of alcohol. He apologized to the peoples of British Columbia and Maui, pleading no contest to the offence. Despite swearing to abstain from alcohol and driving, the opposition attacked him for not resigning his position given his earlier promises that any cabinet minister under criminal investigation or subject to conflict of interest allegations would resign. The controversy surrounding this matter was intense; complete with the sale of T-shirts and other souvenirs bearing Campbell's mug shots[1] (http://www.cafepress.com/cp/store.aspx?s=campbellmugshot).

Premier Campbell was a key figure, endorsing the Glen Clark - NDP led intiative, in Vancouver's successful bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. He led British Columbians in celebration when the International Olympic Committee announced the selection of Vancouver/Whistler in July 2003. The popularity of his government declined through late 2003 and early 2004. In spring 2003, surveys showed the Liberals trailing the NDP in public opinion for the first time since 1994. What Campbell has called "tough decisions" riled some voters; these decisions have resulted in public service layoffs, strikes, hospital closures, school closures, courthouse closures, and service cuts. An agreement to lease the Crown-owned BC Rail property to a CN Rail for 999 years has also been controversial, because it had broke a long-standing BC Liberal Party promise not to sell the BC Rail.

The 2001 tax cuts, although arguably an impetus of BC's economic renewal, have been largely offset by increased gasoline, tobacco and liquor taxes and user fees. Since taking office the Liberal government has faced a number of calamities such as the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. government on the importation of BC softwood, devastating forest fires, an ongoing infestation in central BC forests of the Mountain Pine Beetle, and a downturn in tourism following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the outbreak in Vancouver of SARS in the spring of 2003.

In each year of its mandate the Campbell government has barely kept pace with the rate of inflation as it increased healthcare funding and infrastructure, while eliminating government subsidies to businesses. The BC Liberals went on to rack up record deficits in 2001, 2002 and 2003 but reached a surplus budget in 2004. The BC government raised BC's sales tax to 7.5% but have lowered back to its 7% rate as they predicted their first budget surplus in four years.

Under the BC Liberals there was a tripling of the cardiac surgery wait times after the wait times had not gone up under the NDP except for an increase in 1998 that was taken care of with enhanced funding.

Campbell has occasionally scored lower in poll ratings than his opponent, the NDP's Carole James. Later polls indicate Campbell has re-taken some lost ground, although his party lost a seat in a by-election in early 2005.

On May 17th, 2005 Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals won a second majority government (albiet with fewer seats) making Capmbell the first Premier of BC to win a second term in 22 years.

Preceded by:
Ujjal Dosanjh
Premier of British Columbia
Succeeded by:
in office
Preceded by:
Gordon Wilson
Leader of the Opposition In British Columbia
Succeeded by:
Joy MacPhail
Preceded by:
Michael Harcourt
Mayor of Vancouver
Succeeded by:
Philip Owen

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