BC Politics Continues to Amuse
January 13, 2003 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Our drunk-driving premier has refused to resign because it "was on personal time." What kind of standards does your state or province demand of its leaders? Do your politicians get to sleep around, drunk drive, snort coke, cheat on their taxes, and so on? (Or, rather more to the point, are they allowed to continue in office once caught?)
posted by five fresh fish (48 comments total)
This is the same man who has demanded resignations of many others when there's been even a hint of impropriety. Is sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander? Not in BC!

I'm just glad he wasn't holidaying in Thailand. If it's okay to drunk-drive while on personal holidays, it must be okay to bugger small children, too!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:05 PM on January 13, 2003

"...are they allowed to continue in office once caught?"

posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:13 PM on January 13, 2003

Sleep around.

Drunk drive.

Snort coke.

And so on.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:15 PM on January 13, 2003

I'll see your DUI and raise you a death penalty. Seriously, "sleeping around" in the company of illegal activities changes the scope entirely.
posted by G_Ask at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2003

Mayors behaving badly.
posted by Bag Man at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2003

it must be okay to bugger small children, too!

That would be the mayor of Waterbury, Conn.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2003

"was on personal time."

Not to come to the defense of any hypocritical or rotten politician... but in most places drunk driving is a misdemeanor... so... in general I don't think you should loose your job - UNLESS - your job IS driving some sort of vehicle (cab, school bus, hauling radioactive waste, etc.)

Sadly a good friend of mine just lost his job with a cable installer because of a DUI conviction from 5 years ago (when he was in his early 20s.)

Rip on your bad politicians all you want - but don't bring the rest of us down with anti-drinking rhetoric.
posted by wfrgms at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2003

Okay, maybe I wasn't clear enough: are these politicians getting caught doing these things during their term in office and getting to remain in office despite getting caught?

I'm quickly becoming very dismayed.

G.Ask: c/sleeping around/screwing hookers/, assuming prostitution is illegal where the politician got caught.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2003

At least nobody drowned.
posted by timeistight at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2003

anti-drinking rhetoric

Being anti-drunk driving certainly doesn't automatically mean some one is also anti-drinking.
posted by jennyb at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2003

fff- fair enough (but that's not in your link or I've missed it twice). I thought you were opening this up to ethical debate (ugh) re "sleeping around".
posted by G_Ask at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2003

At least his response wasn't "Bitch set me up."
posted by mookieproof at 1:30 PM on January 13, 2003

... proving, once again, BC is the most uptight, humourless and puritan province of the federation.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:32 PM on January 13, 2003

but in most places drunk driving is a misdemeanor...

Drunk driving is a misdemeanor in Hawaii. The incident occurred there. Thus, legally, he's guilty of a misdemeanor. Not as minor for an elected official as it might be for the average citizen, but still not incredibly huge, and definitely survivable from a political standpoint.

The wrinkle: drunk driving is a criminal offence in Canada. The aforelinked Department of Justice page even goes so far as to prefix it with the adjective "serious". While Mr Campbell is only technically guilty of a misdemeanor, he is responsible to millions of people who view his transgression as something much more serious. Not to mention his automatic association with the government system that established the law in the first place.

(Upon Preview: lupus_yonderboy, drinking may be funny, but drunk driving sure as hell isn't.)
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:42 PM on January 13, 2003

What's incredible about this is that BC hasn't had a Premier manage to complete a full term in eons. They've all been brought down by something or other. The result is provincial politics is more sport than anything else here. And no small surprise we can't get anyone decent in office.

I don't like Campbell, but I don't think this is something to resign over, it's an offence which relates to his personal life, not work life. If he were drunk and in the legislature then....well, that would help us actually.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:34 PM on January 13, 2003

It isn't as uncommon as you would think.

I can't find the article to corroborate this, unfortunately, but if memory serves me (and it was a while ago, so I could be wrong), a past mayor from Guelph, Ontario, Canada was charged with drunk driving, and another past mayor of Kitchener-Waterloo (the neighbouring city) refused to blow for a RIDE stop (it's like saying you're drunk without having to admit it -- the same penalties apply).

Someone needs to do something about this... it's out of control.
posted by shepd at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2003

> Do your politicians get to sleep around, drunk drive, snort
> coke, cheat on their taxes, and so on?

While serving as governor of Wyoming, J. E. Osborne MD wore a pair of shows made from the skin of a lynched cattle rustler. But there apparently was no law against this, so it may not count. Dr. Osborne is not known to be any relation to Ozzy...
posted by jfuller at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2003

Osborne link. So sorry.
posted by jfuller at 2:42 PM on January 13, 2003

Shoes. It's time to go home.
posted by jfuller at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2003

The wife of the Premier of Queensland was caught drink-driving recently, but the media attention was relatively mild. The matter was handled very well by the Premier and his staff and no attempt was made to deny or gloss over what had happened, which may have helped. She was only slightly over the legal limit anyway, which also went her way - it was easy for people to imagine being in the same position, so hard to point the finger at her.

Hardly the sort of thing that would disqualify someone from holding office. Particularly if they were "off-duty" at the time - politicians are entitled to a life as well, you know. While serious enough, to qualify drink-driving as a "serious criminal offence" is a bit much, IMHO.
posted by dg at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2003

I hate Gordon Campbell. The changes his government has made to things like social programs, health care, and tuition make my teeth itch. However, as much as I would like to see a provincial Liberal brought down by the kind of muckraking former Premier Glen Clark experienced, I just don't think this episode is the big political snafu it's being touted as. The man made a personal mistake on a personal vacation, and he is going to pay for it with whatever punishment is deemed appropriate by the Hawaii court system. Should Gordon Campbell lose his elected position because of a misdemeanor that (unfortunately) many of us have committed from time to time? Personally, I'd rather he lost it for not caring about the poor and the dying in our province.

(That being said, I still think giggling at his published mug shot is highly appropriate.)
posted by jess at 3:11 PM on January 13, 2003

I'm not big on Campbell either. And I was willing to think that this was some bad judgement until I found out:
1. That he had 3 martinis and several glasses of wine. That's called being in the bag where I come from (which is BC)
2. That he has repeatedly called on others to resign from public posts while under investigation or upon being convicted of a crime, and now refuses to do so himself.
3. That he called it a personal matter. It stopped being a personal matter the moment he got into a car. Then it became a gross disregard for public safety.

The bottom line is that any politician who is expected to represent the legislative body can hardly remain in good standing after being convicted of a crime while in office. I think we'll be writing him a farewell cheque before summer.
posted by holycola at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2003

heh-"perform community service"
posted by pekar wood at 3:57 PM on January 13, 2003

I don't think the "personal matter" excuse washes at all. Would we accept that excuse if he'd been in Mexico screwing a twelve year-old, would we look the other way? (And, hell, it's apparently even legal there!)

I'm happy enough to have him continue IF AND ONLY IF the result is that he's suddenly a lot more compassionate and forgiving. He's had no problem ruining other's political careers based on rumours later proved false; and he's had no problem ruining the programs that were helping alcholics get dry -- maybe now that he's seen the other side of the coin, he'll grow a heart.

I would prefer that he continue as an MLA, and resign from his premiership. I don't think his mistake should cost him his job... but it should cost him his position.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on January 13, 2003

for all you non-canadians/ppl who don't follow BC provincial politics, Campbell is a much hated premier (uhm, like a governor in the States? someone correct me on this one) of BC.
he's done some very deep and painful cuts to the provincial government. most publicized were cuts to seniors transit tickets, and massive debilitating cuts to institutions that helped women, the poor, and disabled.

just a brush up on why ppl are so mad at him. i think we are all trying to find a reason to kick this Scrooge outta office. if he was a much loved premier who did a lot of good for the province, we would HARDLY be arguing for his resignation over this point. or perhaps not arguing so hard for it.
posted by eurasian at 4:43 PM on January 13, 2003

Oh, there are eversomany reasons to hate Campbell.

How about the new government policy that if you're one disability and have a child 12 years or older, the child must go to work. If the kid doesn't, your disability pay will be cut.

How about the one that if you've a mentally-disabled child, government services funding will be axed when s/he turns 18. And your kid will get services back only if s/he has spent three months on the street after that.

Then there were the long-term seniors care facility closures, in which people 80 and up, often not in the best of mental health, were moved to other facilities against their will and best interests. The worst instance being a married couple well into their 80s who were to be split up!

Tax cuts for the rich that have led to a massive, increasing deficit and what looks like looming tax increases on the poor. Their intention to privatize our electrical company, which has traditionally provided us with extremely affordable electricity in return for being granted the right to flood large part of our valleys for hydroelectricity. Talk of getting rid of our private auto insurance company which has been instrumental in developing improvements to accident-prone stretches of road and intersections, and which discriminates based solely on accident rates and not on age...

Etcetera. It's pretty much a dismal, endless stream of socially-retarded steps backward. Sigh.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on January 13, 2003

Er, all of which I suppose was off-topic.

Anyone have any ideas how we can get better government? What are we doing so wrong that ends up getting these creeps, thieves, and weirdos into power?

There's gotta be a way to attract qualified, sensible, good people into office...
posted by five fresh fish at 5:51 PM on January 13, 2003

As a former BC-ite, I'm not fond of Campbell either. He went in with a sharp ax and it's still swinging, with no regard for anybody. Fine; it's his job to shake things up if that's what he thinks is necessary. He's in Harris' (ex-Premier of Ontario) footsteps and I think that many other provincial leaders will soon be following suit.

With regards to his drinking, now that's a tough one. Drinking is considered to be a social issue/disease/problem and as such there has been much leniency towards officials who have problems in this area. He has stated that this is a personal issue and that it doesn't affect how he performs his job, and I believe that he is correct in this assumption. As a society, we try to help those with alcohol problems and on the whole, we don't tend to fire those with such problems. Based on this, despite the fact that he has been a prick, I don't think he should resign. This time. If he does it again, though, he should go.
posted by ashbury at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2003

5ff, while I certainly disagree with the types of cuts that hurt those who are unable to defend themselves, such as those to the mentally disabled (old or young), and to children, it's my opinion that privatizing things will end up good for everyone, given time.

Harris has been (was) doing similar things in Ontario, and I support him vehemently. I actually now have a lifelong disrespect for teachers' unions because of this man. I don't appreciate being a pawn in someone else's problem anymore than those children abused by policies like you've described.

Anyways, that's probably the reason Campbell was elected in your province -- he rode on a platform that people supported and liked. It just turns out that he's not as competent as he needs to be (that is, if he's making mistakes like those you've mentioned).
posted by shepd at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2003

The charming ex-mayor of my home town in North Carolina was, if memory serves, re-elected shortly after he was indicted for cocaine distribution.

(Memory is somewhat fuzzy here, but I know he was re-elected after a DUI conviction. The cocaine stuff came later.)

The best part? One of his public statements in his own defense was something along the lines of "It wasn't that much cocaine." I seem to recall he likened it to the amount in a Sweet 'n' Low packet.
posted by Vidiot at 10:20 PM on January 13, 2003

Ashbury, he isn't in Harris's footsteps -- with this new revelation of alcoholism, he's definitely following Klein's footsteps! :-)

shepd: Really? BC got a teacher's union only when our previous conservative government crapped all over 'em. Up to that point, they hadn't needed to organize.

Please explain how privatizing BC Hydro would benefit BC citizens. We currently pay the lowest electrical rates in North America.

Vidiot: Gah!! Why wasn't he jailed?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 PM on January 13, 2003

5FF, AFAIK, Ontario has had teacher's unions since before I was born. There's a hell of a lot of them! CUPE, FWTO, OSSTF, OPSTF, ETT, EFTO, among others.

The whole brouhaha was over how Harris had decided to change the education system. I'm not sure if your premier was as open as ours, but ours was dead clear about what his intentions toward the system were, and he did exactly what he said he'd do. I think taking a two week strike and putting students in the middle of the conflict was unfair, considering the majority of Ontario wanted the changes (otherwise, why would you vote for the man?) And, to top it all off, after all this supposed "support" for the teachers, Harris is re-elected on the same platform!

Then again, perhaps it was actually good for me that they did that. It taught me something few education systems ever do: To form my own opinion. Yes, I did actually read the entire bill... it took quite a while, but it was worth it! It's hard to find online, but here's how it looked to me.

Images like this are exactly why the teachers were wrong to strike.

Please explain how privatizing BC Hydro would benefit BC citizens. We currently pay the lowest electrical rates in North America.

Beats me! ;-) I'm not in BC. In Ontario it's been privatized, and it sure did cause a stir. Prices did go up, but I expect that will be reflected in fewer taxes. I guess it all depends on wether you want more or less government...
posted by shepd at 11:02 PM on January 13, 2003

Gah!! Why wasn't he jailed?

again, memory is hazy here (and I'm tired and don't wanna go look up old copies of our town's crummy weekly rag) but I think he was when he was indicted, then released on bond.
posted by Vidiot at 11:10 PM on January 13, 2003

?.?ote for any politician who says things like "It wasn't that much cocaine." Except for national leader, you know, what with the military power and all.

BC politics have been a national joke for years, and that's not going to change. So why try? Why go for half-hearted attempts at governing a province that seems to have a problem with authority?

I revel in Campbell's drinking. It's a point of pride. If he'd been stoned, not one of us would have cared - in fact that probably would have helped him.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:21 PM on January 14, 2003

shepd said: "Someone needs to do something about this... it's out of control."

Actually, there are claims that drunk driving fatalities are decreasing in Canada as well as in the US. (More stats here). Fortunately, it looks like people are finally getting the message.

As for finding good people to get in office, this quote comes to mind.
"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." -Douglas Adams
Although this may not apply for all political positions, it certainly does for most.
posted by twos at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2003

This whole privatization thing is being looked at all wrong in Canada. You don't privatize a natural resource (Hydro, Water) or heath care.

Want to dump something? Privatize Liquor sales across Canada.

Government is responsible for our social needs and infrastructure...not retail.
posted by CrazyJub at 5:35 AM on January 15, 2003

BC intends to, if this debacle does throw the plan off the rails.
posted by timeistight at 8:31 AM on January 15, 2003

...doesn't throw the plan off the rails.
posted by timeistight at 8:32 AM on January 15, 2003

Campbell blew 0.149BAC, which is about twice the legal limit. He was, in a word, shit-faced.

And yet he chose to drive anyways.

What an ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:32 PM on January 15, 2003

Of course he was an ass; so were any of us when we did it. How about you, Mr. Fish?
posted by timeistight at 9:25 AM on January 16, 2003

The one time I drove drunk, I was 20 years old, and if I'd been caught I should deservedly had my license revoked for years, paid a large fine that would be donated to a support group for either alcoholics or victims of drunk driving, and spent some time in jail to consider my stupidity.

Drunk driving is an unforgiveable act, and should be punished to the extreme.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2003

I was 20 years old

How long ago was that?

Drunk driving is obviously recklessly dangerous behaviour. So is running red lights. Would you demand the job of any politician caught failing to stop?
posted by timeistight at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2003

I'm not at all sure how "how long ago" fits into the discussion, but it was at least fifteen years ago.

If he made a habit of running red lights, yes. It shows a blatant disregard not only for the law, but for the safety of the public.

If he were to stand out in the library square and shoot randomly around him -- an obviously recklessly dangerous behaviour -- would you demand his job?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:23 PM on January 16, 2003

Other scenarios you might consider (though I figure shooting at random is about as equivalently dangerous as drunk driving.)

* What if we learned that he's having sex with a fourteen year old? Would you demand his job?

* What if we learned that he's got a grow-op in his basement? Would you demand his job?

* What if we learned that been shoplifting? Would you demand his job?

* And, heck, the library square question, too.

Please answer. I'm most curious as to where you stand re: legal and illegal acts, acts that endanger lives and acts that don't, etc.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2003

* Yes.
* No.
* No.
* Yes.
posted by timeistight at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2003

* Sex with a 14yr old is legal and doesn't put lives at risk.

* Growing pot in your basement is not legal and doesn't put lives at risk.

* Shoplifting is not legal and doesn't put lives at risk.

* Shooting randomly is not legal and does put lives at risk.

* Drunk driving is not legal and does put lives at risk.

So you'd have him resign for doing something that is legal and isn't risky; not resign for doing things that are illegal but risk-free; and would resign for doing illegal risky things.

I detect a certain lack of consistency in all that.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:16 PM on January 16, 2003

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
posted by timeistight at 5:02 PM on January 16, 2003

That'd be "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."

However, the law can not afford to be inconsistent. What troubles me is that you'd toss the man out for perfectly legal acts, while retaining him for acts that are unquestionably highly illegal.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:02 PM on January 16, 2003

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