How long is Premier Gordon Campbell's memory?
According to Burnaby's mayor Derek Corrigan, it is not long enough to remember the time Campbell–as mayor of Vancouver and chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District–stood up against provincial government interference in regional transportation planning. Corrigan, GVRD director and former chair of B.C. Transit, calls the two-term premier a "phoney and a hypocrite" for allowing his transportation minister to impose his will on regional authorities such as TransLink today.
Campbell has not returned calls from the Georgia Straight on this topic. On July 29, 1998, the then–opposition leader was more vocal when he took on the NDP government of former premier Glen Clark. During debate over the second reading of the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Act in the legislature, Campbell lambasted the provincial government of the day for interfering in matters of regional autonomy.
"The evidence is overwhelming that when the provincial government is involved in regional transportation decisions, they stop being regional transportation decisions and they start being provincial political decisions," Campbell said. "That's one of the reasons why we've had so much difficulty in managing transportation in the Lower Mainland over the last number of years."
Now Corrigan charges that Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon's interference by kiboshing the structure of the TransLink board is being met with Campbell's silence.
"Kevin Falcon is making a liar out of Gordon Campbell," he said. "He [Campbell] was banging the drum while he was in opposition for more autonomy locally, promising the [municipal-provincial] Community Charter would give us more ability to do what we needed to do–and it didn't come through. Now we're just getting it loaded on to us, whether it's TILMA [Trades, Industry and Labour Mobility Agreement] or this TransLink manoeuvre...It amazes me that he lets his minister act this way, especially given his time as chair of the GVRD and past president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities."
Cheeying Ho, executive director of Smart Growth BC, told the Straight the premier seems "not so fond of regional initiatives".
"I don't remember in any great detail when he was mayor," she said. "But I know from his involvement in Clouds of Change and the Livable Region Strategic Plan that it just seems he's not so fond nowadays."
TransLink's new structure will see it severed from the GVRD funding authority and taken out of overall regional planning initiatives.
Corrigan is accusing the B.C. Liberals of "misrepresentation and abuse of authority" with their recent introduction in the legislature of Bill 36–the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act. He is not alone in his criticism. As a GVRD director on April 27, he voted in favour of a GVRD staff report, passed by the board, expressing concern over Bill 36 and its effects on regional planning.
"I raised the prospect of litigation," Corrigan said. "I can tell you that's at the top of my list right now, for ways to deal with this government. The only thing they understand is when you end up in court. And usually when you end up in court, it means the provincial government ends up scandalized."
NPA councillor and GVRD director Suzanne Anton told the Straight she is "not the slightest bit interested in litigation".
"I agree with Derek Corrigan's hesitation, but I don't think litigation is the way to go," Anton said. "I want to achieve a settlement up front."
Corrigan is still determined to highlight Campbell's statements prior to becoming premier in 2001.
"Everything he says about consultation and working cooperatively–they always want to work cooperatively," Corrigan said. "When push comes to shove, they use their legislative authority to impose their will on elected officials around the province."