A more harmonious message

Before I was a journalist, I worked for the government as a communications advisor - a job that included writing speeches for first New Democrat and later Liberal politicians. So I took a few minutes yesterday to roughly sketch out what I think Premier Gordon Campbell should have spoken about during his televised address on Global TV. First, I would told him, "Introduce yourself. You're coming into the homes of British Columbians. So it's only polite to tell them who you are." And then, I would have recommended he say something like this...

"Tonight, I'd like to talk with you about the future of British Columbia - about how we're going to keep our economy strong for our children and our children's children. But, before I do that, I'd like to talk with you about the harmonized sales tax.

"I know many of you are angry with me right now - angry about my decision to introduce the HST without speaking with you first. So let me be clear: I take full responsibility for that decision. In this government, the buck stops here. And no one is to blame but me.

"I regret I didn't do things differently. I regret I made this decision without you. But I'm going to work hard to regain your trust so we can continue building this province together. And I'd like to share with you now how I think we can do that."

That's what I would have advised the premier to say. Introduce yourself. You may not want to apologize for the harmonized sales tax. But, at the very least, you need to accept responsibility for it and acknowledge how angry British Columbians are toward you. Then, launch a new narrative for your administration. But the premier failed to do all of that, which makes me wonder if the premier has brought his own storyline to an end.

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