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British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell addresses a news conference in Vancouver in this July 6, 2010 file photo. (Andy Clark/ Reuters/Andy Clark/ Reuters)
British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell addresses a news conference in Vancouver in this July 6, 2010 file photo. (Andy Clark/ Reuters/Andy Clark/ Reuters)

Letter from B.C.

Gordon Campbell mute as Christy Clark carves up his legacy Add to ...

Gordon Campbell, remember him? The tough, policy-driven, former premier, who dominated politics in British Columbia for 10 years, winning three straight provincial elections, has plummeted from public view as quickly and completely as a pop-up whack-a-mole.

There hasn't been a peep from the previous premier since Christy Clark took over the reins last March, not even on his pending appointment as Canada's High Commissioner to Britain or last week's tragic death of a worker renovating Mr. Campbell's Sechelt holiday residence.

And soon, the way Ms. Clark has been beavering away, there may not be much of Mr. Campbell's political legacy left to talk about, even if he wanted to.

Under Ms. Clark, the minimum wage was raised dramatically; hard-line, Campbell-appointed ministers were shuffled out of their posts, most notably in Children and Family Development; B.C. Hydro rates and direction are under review; corporate taxes are to be raised, if the HST survives the current referendum; and a good chunk of the community gaming grants that were slashed significantly during Mr. Campbell's final year in office has been restored.

Monday, Ms. Clark put the capper on that last move by appointing former Kwantlen Polytechnic University president Skip Triplett to head a thorough review of the distribution of revenue that flows to the government from gambling. It was yet another distancing from the Campbell era.

Mind you, it hasn't all been plain sailing for Ms. Clark. She may never live down her recent Monty Python-esque pronouncements on reforming the Canadian Senate, proposing not one, but two measures within 24 hours, both of which verged on Alice in Wonderland territory.

Such a gaffe by Mr. Campbell was unthinkable. He took policy very, very seriously.

Ms. Clark could not be more different, often making announcements on the fly, almost on whim. And so far, there is little indication her new style and new approach to government, chipping away at the way Mr. Campbell did business, have hurt her with the public.

Coming up, however, is a brand new test for the rookie premier. Next week, Ms. Clark hosts the country's premiers and territorial leaders for their annual Council of the Federation meeting.

Mr. Campbell often trotted out big ideas at these meetings. He liked the national stage. Premier Clark has shown little interest in this studied approach. But will there be a different Christy Clark at these deliberations, more serious, more gripped by policy, more interested in forging consensus on national issues than seeking headlines?

Stay tuned. In the meantime, however, don't put any bets on a deep discussion of Senate reform.

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