There’s something to be said about having a really good winning strategy. But there’s something about Canadian politicians that goes beyond that. What these foreward-looking parliamentarians have is a quality losing strategy. BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s surprise mid-term resignation, once again shows how politicians in this country frequently manage to suck so badly that we can’t even vote them out.

It goes something like this: a radical new official comes to office pushing hard-core neoliberal reforms like social service cuts, free trade and corporate tax give-aways. While initially popular due to their bold stances, these politicians inevitably enter a downward slide in the polls (often to historic lows) as the bitter effects of these policies hit the public, they publicly resign, leaving some short-lived party insider to serve out the term before the opposition sweeps them out the back door.

Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell. Mike Harris and Ernie Eves a decade later. Even the celebrated Jean Cretien bowed out before his term was done. It’s a fairly clear pattern, and not a pleasant one. In traditional democracies, it’s considered polite to be straightforward about your leadership before people vote for you, and not turn it over halfway. Beyond that, it’s of little consolation to be given the resignations of politicians like Harris and Mulroney when we’re still suffering from their policies years or decades later.

It’s a simple strategy, and it’s quite effective for getting nightmarish policies passed in a crash-and-burn sort of governing. But ultimately, even if the “new” conservative party or the reinvented liberals want to claim that it won’t happen again, the fact that it’s still happening shows a lot. It’s a simple strategy, and it works: suck, fail, quit.

For politicians, they’re words to live by.


100 Posts, Whoo-hoo. Look forward to some big new things happening soon…