Friday, November 19, 2010

"Just not the right way to do government"

The continuing trainwreck that is British Columbia politics continues to fascinate.

A week ago, I was out on a limb a bit arguing that Premier Gordon Campbell's decision to resign was his own and that reports, notably in the Globe & Mail, that his caucus had removed him simply had to be wrong.

But confirmation for my sense of it continues to pile up, with Gordon Campbell, supposedly the victim of a "caucus revolt," still firing cabinet ministers who look beyond his leadership -- and the fired cabinet minister describing backbenchers and cabinet ministers as suffering something like "battered-wife syndrome."  (He later asked if he could withdraw the remark, which seems tasteful.) Here's the Sun's Vaughan Palmer on the situation:
The government, knowing Campbell was compromised, tried to persuade reporters that the cabinet had decided to eject Bennett from its midst. "It was absolutely a group decision by cabinet," said Hansen. "The premier was not even in the room."
Not so, said Bennett. "I was fired by Gordon Campbell. He's the only one who has the power to do that." He figured the scene inside the cabinet room was merely staged for effect.
Later in the day, the truth of the matter was confirmed by the premier himself. The order removing Bennett from cabinet was signed by none other than "Gordon Campbell." That's who fired Bill Bennett. The rest was spin.
But even the fired minister acknowledges, "It's his right. He has the authority."(CBC-TV video here -- also the source of the title quote.) The understanding that a working parliamentary system requires caucuses to hold leaders to account simply has no traction in Canada, among journalists, among scholars, and sadly, among caucus members most of all. Even the poor schlub whose career goes down the toilet to sustain authoritarian leadership accepts it in the end.
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