Five reasons why Gordon Campbell, Carole James, and Jane Sterk lag behind their parties

A new poll by Angus Reid Strategies has made it official: Gordon Campbell is the least popular premier in recent B.C. history.

He only scored a nine percent approval rating, which is worse than former NDP premier Glen Clark's 11 percent approval rating at the depth of his unpopularity.

If B.C. Liberal MLAs aren't looking for a replacement, they ought to have their heads examined.

Meanwhile, the news wasn't much better for Carole James, leader of the NDP Opposition. She posted a measley 27 percent approval rate.

When it came to voting intentions, 49 percent of respondents favoured the NDP, whereas only 24 percent would vote Liberal.

You would think that the Green party would benefit from this situation. But its largely invisible leader, Jane Sterk, only managed a 12 percent approval rating; 13 percent of respondents said they would vote Green.

This means that all three leaders lag behind their parties in terms of popularity.

Why are they all doing so poorly this year? Here are five possible explanations for each leader:

Gordon Campbell

* His trip to the Bilderberg conference reinforced a perception that his primary interest is serving the corporate elite rather than the average British Columbian.

* His egocentric behaviour during the 2010 Winter Games alienated many British Columbians, some of whom hadn't paid a lot of attention to him before that point.

* Large segments of the public think he lied to them about not planning the harmonized sales tax before the 2009 election.

* Gordo fatigue—people are sick of seeing his face after so many years, but he just can't resist inserting himself into the public eye. A case in point: the B.C. government website, which features the premier's face in the main image nearly every single day.

* Campbell's decision to spend $563 million on a roof on B.C. Place stadium seemed misplaced at a time when schools are closing and arts groups' budgets are being eviscerated.

Carole James

* Carole Who? Never in the history of the province has there been an Opposition leader who kept such a low public profile.

* James seems to exert more energy trying to placate the mainstream media than in developing policies that British Columbians will get excited about. Her strategy has resulted in excellent coverage for her in columns by veteran journalists like Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey, and Gary Mason. But that hasn't translated into positive polling results for her personally.

* James decided immediately after the election that she wasn't going to step down as leader, let alone ask party members what they thought after she had lost two consecutive campaigns. This seemed a bit high-handed, given that only 51 percent of voters even bothered to cast ballots in 2009.

* She may be a sure-footed debater, but James has not conveyed to voters that she's intellectually curious. This is a big problem in a party that has traditionally attracted the support of many intellectuals.

* James blew it by tossing Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson out of caucus for his mild criticism of a speech she gave at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Jane Sterk

* The Green leader has difficulty generating media coverage for herself and the party. In this regard, she's not nearly as effective as her predecessor, Adriane Carr.

* At this point, the Greens probably would do better with a younger leader (Stuart Mackinnon?) who lives in Metro Vancouver, where he or she would be able to generate a great deal more media coverage for the party. Sterk lives on Vancouver Island, which means she's shut out of most non-English-language media and out of mind of talk-show producers working at broadcast outlets with the largest audiences.

* The Greens' nuanced response to the harmonized sales tax left some people confused. Did they support the tax or oppose it? They said this tax was poorly designed, but they generally support consumption taxes.

* As the economy has continued to sputter, the public is more concerned with bread-and-butter issues, which is not helpful to the Greens from a political standpoint.

* The Greens are in rough shape nationally without a single seat in Parliament. This reinforces the view among many voters that the Greens are a fringe party, which hasn't been helped by the failure to elect a single MLA in B.C.



Ernie Seedhouse

Oct 17, 2010 at 9:10am

Carol won a huge come back for the NDP in her first go round as a leader. The party survived under her leadership. She lost me when the party banned male candidates in one half of the ridings. There is no room for a young man, with social democratic principles, to advance in the NDP. Tommy Douglas would not be allowed to run for the NDP in BC.

Only 5?

Oct 17, 2010 at 11:36am

Charlie, I think there are a lot more concrete reasons you could point to that would explain Gordon Campbell's lack of popularity but then again that list would be so long and go so far back as 2001 that. That it would be impossible to fit them all on a page this size. Why doesn't the straight do piece highlighting every instance of bullshit we have been fed my this pseudo dictator since 2001 from their promise of not raising the cost of public education to having the Olympics and HST crammed down our throats?

For instance that to Gordon Campbell Simon Fraser University now pays tow of its top people in the human resources department between $120,000 and $170,000 so they can take extended lunch breaks and play with their iphones in their offices all day. That is, when they are not scheming of ways to slash the wages and benefits of the teaching support staff all of whom are students. Vote this liberal/conservatives out and then lets get their greedy little friends out of public education.

Charlie Smith

Oct 17, 2010 at 12:34pm

I was citing things that occurred this year that might explain why Campbell's approval rate fell so low in 2010.

Charlie Smith


Oct 17, 2010 at 12:52pm

ernie seedhouse, you're completely misunderstanding what affirmative action is trying to do. in our society, men are privileged and it is easier for men to run in elections. affirmative action tries to equalize that privilege and remove barriers so a truly reflective slate of candidates are run.

furthermore, those elected under the affirmative action policy are incredibly qualified. lana popham, kathy corrigan, dawn black, mable elmore and counting!

i think affirmative action is a great thing.

Taxpayers R Us

Oct 17, 2010 at 2:18pm

I agree with Ernie, and to quote union leader: "The NDP is putting democracy on hold until after the next election".

I can't understand how a party can discriminate to this level while decrying discrimination. Do two wrongs make a right?

Sorry for going off topic, but that does have to be considered as one of the reasons she's lagging in 2010. Some people cannot in good conscience vote for a party under a leader who would openly discriminate against an entire gender. I certainly can't, no matter which gender it's happening to, and I'll remember and vote accordingly next time around.

Besides, isn't it illegal according to the Canadian Charter? Or are we going to shelf that too until after the next election?

Stephanie Tidd

Oct 17, 2010 at 2:52pm


Would I be correct in assuming your riding wasn't one that was targeted for an "Affirmative action" candidate? Ours was and not only were we subjected to two lackluster candidates, the one who won the nomination was parachuted in from a neighboring riding.

As a woman, I am personally offended by the thought that we need to be granted special privileges in order to compete on an even footing with men. And why is it mostly men who are in favor of affirmative action? Nearly all the women I know share my opinion on this subject.

Further, it is my opinion that a candidate should be chosen based on their qualifications, their work ethic and, most importantly, their passion. Additionally, they should never forget who it was that granted them the honor of serving.


Oct 17, 2010 at 3:21pm

Does anyone have video of Gordo being booed by 6-12 year olds at the We Day rally?

Petey J

Oct 17, 2010 at 8:11pm

Gordo was a Piece of _ _ _ _ then as well as now

glen p robbins

Oct 17, 2010 at 9:07pm

I believe both Ernie and tim are telling the truth. I expect the general public would side with Ernie. Many 'liberated' women see Carole James affirmative action policy as condescending - they will say women are good enough to win it on their own.

If you ask women if they would like to see more women in elected positions they will say "Yes", if you ask them if they support Carole James affirmative action approach to make this a reality they will say "No".

There are other women who will say there are already plenty of good female politicians (notwithstanding the imbalance in representation), and still others will say - "what's wrong with Carole James isn't she a woman?"

Carole missed the boat with this move in my opinion - it might have ultimately (beside Campbell and Hansen lying) cost her 1-2% - of the voting public and I am quite serious about those numbers. That was the beginning of my own notes on the bad advice theory following a visit to the Coquitlam Executive Inn and her speech to the Coquitlam Chamber of Commerce.

My hunch is that she needs to clean house with her advisors (I don't know of them) - as either they - or her- or a combination are making her stale.

And 'country' Norm McDonald is hot (not that there is anything wrong with that).- and could possibly beat her in a leadership race. Watch out.

It's all good for the NDP.

I don't believe the Green Party is relevant in that form - they are as Jane Sterk has stated 'a movement'------whether or not they become smart enough to exploit the applie pie delight in Saanich North and the Islands-is something the near time will tell.

With Campbell - I think some people are sufficiently self-interested or want to be self-interested - or flat out unintelligent -- not to have known this commodity long ago--------------------well even the stupid horse has left the barn on fire.


Oct 17, 2010 at 9:41pm

You doid a great job. yes i did find the video of cambell it is on youtube.