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Throne Speech pays homage to Campbell's tenure

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell jokes with the media.


Outgoing Premier Gordon Campbell practically awarded himself a gold medal for good government in a Throne Speech that read more like a list of accomplishments past than a political blueprint for the future.

Monday's 13-page speech was high in praise for the 2010 Winter Games and British Columbia's Olympic legacy, but short on specifics for the days ahead.

The speech comes at a time of political upheaval in the province, with both the Premier and leader of the Opposition stepping down.

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The current political vacuum appeared to benefit Mr. Campbell as the usually savage reaction to the Speech from the Throne was muted.

"As anyone could understand, it was the Premier looking back on his time in office," said interim New Democrat Leader Dawn Black. "It will be the last Throne Speech for Premier Campbell. It was a walk down memory lane for the Premier. It's history of the last 10 years as he and his government would write it."

But she said it was short on addressing the government's failures, joblessness, poverty and budget deficits.

The Liberals will elect a new leader to succeed Mr. Campbell on Feb. 26 and the New Democrats elect a new leader to replace Carole James on April 17.

Liberal leadership candidates Kevin Falcon and Christy Clark both said the speech didn't break new ground, but that was to give the new leader room to shape the agenda.

"I don't think that an outgoing premier is going to put a major stamp on where the government is going to go, recognizing he's going to be replaced by an incoming premier," Mr. Falcon said.

Ms. Clark, who sat as a guest in the legislature chamber in which she once sat as a Campbell cabinet minister, said she looked across at the Opposition New Democrats and knew she had to win the leadership race to keep the NDP from forming government.

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"You sit there and you look across at the guys across the way and you realize, with a list of [Liberal]accomplishments that long, we have to make sure we win the next election," she said.

Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point, who read the Throne Speech, said it was being delivered a year to the day after Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil.

"British Columbia reached new heights with the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games," Mr. Point said.

"A new decade of international opportunity and economic and social development lies before us all."

Mr. Point said the B.C. government will honour each of the province's medal winners in the coming days. The speech also acknowledged the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashivili before the opening of the Games in a crash at the Whistler sliding track.

On Tuesday, the Liberals will release a provincial budget that Finance Minister Colin Hansen has already said will contain no surprises.

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The speech did not directly mention Mr. Campbell's accomplishments as Premier over the past decade, but it described in detail the path his government has taken since first elected in 2001.

"Since 2001, B.C.'s businesses, large and small, have helped create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, so today in British Columbia well over two million people have jobs that support their families and add to the quality of life in their communities," Mr. Point said.

The Canadian Press

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