A Matter of Confidence
By Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman
Heritage House Publishing
A Matter of Confidence is a new book by two veteran B.C. legislature journalists, Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman. It begins with Gordon Campbell’s disastrous 2009 decision to bring in the Harmonized Sales Tax, which ultimately cost him his job, and ends with the 2017 swearing in of John Horgan as B.C.’s first BC NDP premier since 2001.
The book covers Christy Clark’s years as B.C. premier, with a significant focus on the lead up to the 2017 election and its historic aftermath, in which a vote of non-confidence toppled a B.C. premier for the first time in living memory.
I’m not sure how these two reporters found the time to write these 344 pages, which are chock full of anecdotes, interviews and new tidbits of information, in between filing daily stories. But find it they did and the result is a taut and spirited story of the madness that is B.C. politics.
Shaw has covered the B.C. legislature since 2009 and is the legislative columnist for the Vancouver Sun. Zussman has covered the legislature since 2014, first for the CBC and now for Global News. Full disclosure -- Shaw and I used to work together at the Vancouver Sun.
The authors interviewed 70 people over a two-month period last summer as research for the book. Most of the interviews were “on background,” which means the interviewees did not agree to specific attribution, however the authors tried to corroborate information with more than one source, as often as they could, they say in the book’s acknowledgements. Both Clark and Horgan were interviewed for several hours, while Campbell declined a request to be interviewed.
This book, which is already No. 1 on the Best of B.C. bestseller list, is a comprehensive history of the past decade in B.C. politics. Everything is here, from Bill Vander Zalm’s successful drive to abolish the HST to the unprecedented five-week 2014 teachers’ strike to the high-profile, tragic deaths of Alex Gervais and Paige, two young people who had grown up in government care. LNG, Site C, the unpredictable 2013 B.C. election, the government’s bitter break with children’s rep Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. It’s all here.
The 2017 election, as the book’s centrepiece, is broken down into its crucial turning points, such as the NDP’s snap decision to scrap bridge tolls, the make-or-break negotiations required to build an agreement between the Greens and the NDP and the behind-closed-doors conversation between Clark and Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after the non-confidence vote.
Political junkies will enjoy this insider’s look at what goes on out of the public eye, while others will surely learn a thing or two about the crazy roller coaster ride otherwise known as B.C. politics.