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The record of Gordon Campbell, B.C.'s most durable premier

Gordon Campbell's political resolve appeared to evaporate on Wednesday. Before a surprise news conference, no matter how terrible the HST hammering that reduced his approval rate to nine per cent in one poll, Mr. Campbell doggedly and earnestly talked about seeking a fourth term in 2013.

His career in provincial politics effectively ends as soon as the party can set up the process to replace him. Until then, grand moments or initiatives are unlikely. That leaves his record as one of B.C.'s most durable premiers.

May 16, 2001: Gordon Campbell's Liberals win sweeping election victory

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The landslide victory marked the return of the right to B.C. politics.

After a decade of NDP government, Mr. Campbell easily won power, leading the first Liberal government elected in B.C. in more than 50 years. Liberals took all but two of the seats.

Widespread anti-NDP sentiment helped push the party to victory, along with Mr. Campbell's campaign promises of "honest" government and personal income-tax cuts. Mr. Campbell had led the opposition in B.C. since 1994. On June 6, 2001, Mr. Campbell cut income tax by 25 per cent.

Jan. 13, 2003: Premier apologizes for drunk driving

Two days after being arrested in Maui for driving under the influence, Mr. Campbell held an emotional news conference in Vancouver in which he asked for the public's forgiveness.

His caucus rallied behind him, but opposition leaders called for his resignation.

Mr. Campbell apologized, teary-eyed, but refused to resign.

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"Looking back, I ask myself always: 'How could I have been so stupid? Why didn't I just stay overnight? Why didn't I call a cab?' "

He drank two martinis and a few glasses of wine at a friend's home and then got behind the wheel. When police pulled him over, he failed a breathalyzer test and spent the night in jail.

Feb. 19, 2008: Mr. Campbell and finance minister Carole Taylor introduced a carbon tax, the first of its kind in North America

Mr. Campbell's decision pushed B.C. to the forefront of green policies. It was a risky political move that defied opposition from corporations and taxpayers alike.

Mr. Campbell said the tax was necessary to meet the province's climate-change targets. He committed in early 2007 to cut one-third of the province's greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020.

The tax on carbon emissions was expected to raise about $1.8-billion and reduce economic growth by approximately 0.1 per cent a year.

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May 12, 2009: Campbell elected to third term; announces HST two months later

Mr. Campbell was re-elected for a third term after eight years as premier. A political chameleon, he instituted conservative tax and budget policies in his first term and acted as a champion for aboriginal people and an advocate for the environment in his second.

But his next major policy change would be his last.

Shortly after he was elected, Mr. Campbell announced the HST - the policy that led to his political demise. The highly controversial move harmonized the provincial sales tax with the federal goods and services tax. Consumers expressed outrage, while resource businesses applauded.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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