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If a personal mistake should not disqualify the    BC’s Premier  – what should?   

 While on holiday in Hawaii, British Columbia’s Premier was stopped for speeding and subsequently charged with impaired driving by the police in Maui. Remorseful, the Premier recognizes that he showed poor judgment and will not contest the charge. The question is should the Premier resign?  Voters elect people to office, and people - human beings - are not perfect. At this time, the Premier faces an alleged impaired driving charge. Most people that are not “teetotallers”, have been in the situation, where the question is: should I drive or not?  When in doubt, there is of course only one rule -- don’t drive and conduct your self accordingly.  Then there is the question, which reasonable step should a host take to prevent guests drinking alcohol to leave driving. Yet, without being told, in his exposed position and in his own interest, the Premier should have set an example and followed the rule, don’t drink and drive.  So should numerous other officials and politicians and all other that have made social mistakes.  Perhaps on bad advice what may also be problematic for many, is what may be considered a sympathy appeal by the Premier in using his father’s problem as an excuse.  However, the problem for society is not the Premier’s laps in judgment and misdemeanor in Hawaii.   The problem for society is the distraction caused when heads of state or ministers make social blunders. The BC Premier’s mistake will distract interest from the massive social, economic and ecological problems British Columbia is facing.   Political opponents in and outside the liberal party can cheaply focus on the Premier as a person rather that on the issues that are important for ordinary people.  The risk is that the Premier’s mistake has and will continue to divert public interest away from Healthcare, the Community Charter Act, Forest Policies, Private-Public Partnerships, BC Hydro, the Olympic Bid, etc.  It distracts the media, voters and taxpayers from crucial issues, including the failure of government policies and actions to meet the standard for government intervention in a democratic mixed economy.  No longer are we concerned whether the intervention meets our constitution and reduces disparities in opportunities, or whether instead it increases disparities and the gap between those who have and those who have not. The paradox of course is that the distraction may be good for the Liberal party!  Unfortunately, the Premier’s mistake may also divert the public interest from an opposition that for nine years managed the BC economy like a bunch of drunken sailors onboard a fast-ferry.  In perspective, the Premier’s mistake pales next to the adversity the former government caused the people of BC.  The problem is whether or not the current Premier and government’s intervention and policies meet the standards required in today’s knowledge-driven open economic conditions.  That is what should be the concern of the Premier, the government and the members of society in considering whether or not the Premier should resign.  Not the Premier’s social misdemeanor in Hawaii. Going through tough life events sometimes makes people more humble and compassionate for others.  Perhaps the event in Hawaii will make a better Premier that is more open to alternatives to his government’s policies. In that case the Premier’s impaired driving may well be the silver lining for both the Premier and the people of British Columbia.  


Januray 2003