The federal government is expected to announce that former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell will be Canada’s next high commissioner to Great Britain (in other words, the ambassador).
While this has caused some snarky comments in B.C., where Campbell’s popularity remains on par with a snake’s belly, this is a good appointment.
Campbell served as B.C. premier for nine years, and was the first premier since Bill Bennett to win three consecutive terms in office. He did so during some challenging times. When he assumed office in 2001, the B.C. economy was coming out of a recession and badly needed a shot of confidence. When he stepped down earlier this year, the economy had weathered another recession, although it may not weather the fury over the HST, which cost Campbell his job and may well cost his party the government.
While he obviously blew it with the HST on many levels, Campbell’s overall track record on job creation, economic development, infrastructure, the 2010 Winter Olympics and debt management was quite good. Perhaps most importantly, he is a visionary — he isn’t afraid to think differently, and while he sometimes gets off base, he often has the ability to see a new approach to a problem.
The former premier has a good reputation among those he worked with over the years, from cabinet ministers to fellow premiers and the prime minister. He worked very well with the federal government on many issues. He wouldn’t have been asked to do this job if the current Conservative government didn’t see something he can bring to it.
He joins former Manitoba premier Gary Doer (a former NDP premier, in fact) as an ambassador. Doer was named ambassador to the United States by the Stephen Harper government in 2009.
While those who are upset with the BC Liberals may not like this appointment, they need to look beyond provincial politics. Campbell is a capable individual who will represent Canada very well in the U.K., which remains a very important trading partner and one of Canada’s major allies in Europe. It is also home to our system of government and the Royal Family, who remain strongly linked to Canada.
He is a deserving candidate for this appointment. It is very significant that a former B.C. premier will take up this important post.