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British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell jokes with the media. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell jokes with the media. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Politics

No need for memoir therapy, Gordon Campbell says Add to ...

Gordon Campbell isn't a big fan of political memoirs, which makes it unlikely My Years as Premier by Gordon Campbell is coming to Chapters or Amazon.com.

He would certainly have time to hunker down at the keyboard, or work with a ghost writer. On Feb. 26, B.C. Liberals will elect Mr. Campbell's successor, ending a run of almost a decade as Premier.

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But Mr. Campbell says he has no interest in a "rehash" memoir of his years in B.C.'s top political job.

"I don't think I need to spend time on that kind of therapy," Mr. Campbell told The Globe and Mail.

He was responding to suggestions by former NDP premier Mike Harcourt that writing a memoir was good post-political therapy. Former B.C. premiers David Barrett and William Vander Zalm also wrote memoirs.

"It's good therapy. Get it out. Get it done and move on," Mr. Harcourt, whose memoir was called A Measure of Defiance, said during a conversation about life after being a premier.

"It allows you to give a context to the relentless rush of trying to carry out your own priorities," he recalled.

However, Mr. Campbell said he rarely reads such memoirs because they, too often, feel like the tales of people trying to "justify what they have done," when "what you have done speaks for itself."

Were he to write a book, said Mr. Campbell, it would be something forward-looking, about Canada, its future, and lessons from his decades of politics spanning his time at Vancouver City Hall where he was mayor to his years as B.C. Premier.

"The most important thing always is this: Why would anyone want to read it? And if they don't want to read it, I am not sure I need to write it."

Political scientist Norman Ruff said such a memoir would be a treasure to academics studying B.C. affairs, partly because Mr. Campbell has had a long, eventful run as premier. "There's a tendency for [memoirs]to be self-serving, but usually there are some gems if they go beyond, 'I was a great man, who did great things,' " said Mr. Ruff, a professor emeritus with the University of Victoria.

But since a conventional memoir appears unlikely, the question is: What lies ahead for Mr. Campbell?

He has said he will discuss the future of his Vancouver-area seat with the next Liberal premier. One assumes that conversation will determine how long he is tied to the legislature.

It was clear that he is done with partisan politics.

He said he did not expect he would ever be asked to campaign for the Liberals again, nor would he do so if asked.

"I think you have to pass the torch, say, 'It's up to someone else now. They should do that job' I am looking forward to the job they do, and I am looking forward to getting on with the rest of the things I can do in my life, too."

One politician he admires for his post-political career is Preston Manning, founder of the Reform Party.

After leaving Parliament in 2002, Mr. Manning shifted into a role focused on issues through posts with the Canada West Foundation and at the universities of Calgary and Toronto.

"He's shown, after public life, that you can still make a significant contribution to your country by standing up for your principles and talking to people about them and looking for solutions to the problems we solve, and he does it in a non-partisan way," said Mr. Campbell

Various business-community figures said Mr. Campbell would inevitably receive offers to serve on corporate boards though one doubted a take-charge guy like Mr. Campbell would be comfortable sitting at a boardroom table without being in charge.

"I think a boardroom table would drive him nuts," said the business figure.

A federal appointment might be possible.

After a speech in Richmond last week, he told reporters, "There's lots of ways to give to public life beyond being elected," and federal cabinet ministers have been effusive about the Premier as a provincial partner.

But if Mr. Campbell has a federal appointment lined up, he isn't talking.

Mr. Campbell said he is not stressing about the future.

"All the advice I have had is just to relax. I think there is a possibility for the world to open up before me," he said.

Follow on Twitter: @ianabailey

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