Review: A Matter of Confidence is a Canadian politics must-read

  • Heritage House Publishing, 352 pages

In this age of short attention spans, it is easy to forget what a momentous day it was that unfolded on June 29, 2017 to give British Columbia its first NDP premier in 16 years. In B.C.’s long, colourful, no-holds-barred political history, there has been no parallel to the day itself and the riveting events leading up to Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon’s decision to call on NDP Leader John Horgan to govern, rather than accept premier Christy Clark’s desperate pleadings for an election.

It was drama of the highest order. Yet it might soon have faded from memory had it not been for two legislative reporters with a ringside seat for every twist and turn. Rob Shaw of the Vancouver Sun and Richard Zussman, then of CBC, felt these historic happenings deserved a closer look. (Mr. Zussman is now with Global News, after being fired by the CBC for allegedly breaching its guidelines with his work on this book.)

The result, produced in an astonishingly short time, is their book, A Matter of Confidence, and it’s a winner – a well-written, compelling and fast-paced narrative that does ample justice to the unprecedented circumstances that yielded such a seismic shift in B.C.’s political landscape.

Thanks to a wealth of interviews with key participants, whose memories, and scars, were still fresh, the authors puncture the secrecy of the backrooms, allowing us to listen in on closed-door discussions by players from all three parties that went on before, during and after an election campaign, which ended with the upstart Greens holding the balance of power. Even though we know Horgan wound up as Premier, one still keeps turning the page to see how it all transpired behind the scenes. The pressure-packed, back-and-forth negotiations leading to the Greens’ landmark alliance with the NDP and their spurning of all BC Liberal entreaties, despite a final session in the Harbour Towers penthouse suite with a deliberately well-stocked liquor cabinet, are recounted in rich detail.

A similar light is shone on the many emotions that spilled out in private on June 29, as the government was toppled on a no-confidence motion and the province’s political future was determined by a vice-regal appointee. We also learn with delight that Clark and the…

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