On Jan. 19, in this paper, Brendon Johnson claimed that “the people do not direct the government, they are the government.” While that statement sounds familiar and even good, is it accurate?
To some, it may be reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg speaking of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” To me, it smarts of the artful craft of Orwellian doublespeak, exemplified in my mind by the name of China’s government, the “Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China.” We do not live in China, but one does not need to live in China to hear doublespeak or other forms of political corruption, for such corruption is seemingly universal.
For a correct understanding of our form of government, I would direct Mr. Johnson to review the following statement concerning the relationship between the people of B.C. and their provincial government, which is that “…we are here as their servants first, and that they are not the servants of the Legislature or of the public bodies …” That statement correctly delineates the proper relationship of the people of B.C. to the government — which is that of the practically silent but self-evident and pre-eminent role of master, to the servant.
So, to clarify, we the people are not the government since it is our creation, and it and its officials are our servants. For this clarification, we owe thanks to none other than Gordon Campbell himself from his comments on July 6, 1994, during the debate on the recall legislation itself.
Campbell also said that the government (at that time NDP) not listening to “80 per cent of the population” was a “slap in the face … for people across this province,” while he also suggested that collecting 10 per cent of the electorate’s signatures in a recall campaign was practically impossible. He argued strongly that the “recall legislation” was written by “politicians, of politicians and for politicians,” and complained about the three years it had taken to table the recall legislation, while last year he himself put the referendum date more than a year after the successful petition calling for the end to the HST.
Furthermore, during that debate, Campbell correctly called the 60 day/40 per cent terms of the recall initiative to be “onerous” and “to be as sure as possible that citizens don’t have that kind of access and don’t hold their elected representatives accountable.” He called the very referendum option he and the Liberals now offer the people of B.C. “flaccid” when they could have “created strong public policy that would have established accountability in the Legislature.”
It has taken 17 years for this doublespeak to come full circle, but when we see the leader of the province condemning himself by his own words, and his caucus and party ally themselves with him also, then we have the right, the obligation, even the sacred duty, to replace the government.
Campbell said: “They are tired of politicians who make promises before an election and do the exact opposite after.” Yes, Mr. Campbell, and also Mr. McRae, we are tired of politicians like you who do not understand the relationship between government and the people. Mr. McRae, since you won’t listen to the people, your masters, why not follow the pattern of your fearless leader Mr. Campbell and save us the trouble of recall?
But if not, we will use the “politicians’” legislation with all its “hurdles that are far greater than any of us would ever be able to jump over to get elected,” to elect you out. We will show you and your party that even though Mr. Campbell was so right on so many things on the floor of the legislature that day in 1994, he was also equally wrong on the petition not being able to be carried out successfully, and as Mr. McRae will find out in short order, that his leader was wrong about the recall initiative not ever being successful either.