B.C. Premier Campbell says wasn't pushed to resign

Thu Nov 4, 2010 3:55pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell denied on Thursday he was pressured to resign by his own party, and said he plans to remain as provincial leader until a permanent replacement is chosen.

Campbell, whose popularity has been battered by voter anger over a new sales tax policy, surprised even his own cabinet on Wednesday when he announced he plans to step down after leading Canada's westernmost province since 2001.

Campbell denied reports he was pushed out by a brewing revolt within the B.C. Liberal Party, and said that in the 17 years he has led the right-of-center party he always had its strong support.

But Campbell said he concluded his political struggles had become too big a distraction after seeing the muted public and media reaction to his announcement last week of the second largest income-tax cut in the province's history.

"I think it is in the best interest of British Columbia to refocus people's attention," he told reporters. "When people are focused on one person ... it's better to step aside."

Campbell, the longest-serving of Canada's current provincial premiers, said he made the decision during a weekend visit with his son and grandchildren in Los Angeles.

A recent poll showed his popular support -- riding high in February during Vancouver's Winter Olympics -- had dropped to 9 percent amid anger over the merger of the 7 percent provincial sales tax and the 5 percent federal goods and services tax into a 12 percent harmonized sales tax (HST) that applies to a wider range of purchases.

"You have to be pretty deep underground to know the polls have not been my best friends," he said.   Continued...

<p>British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell talks about his future during a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia November 4,2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>