In the interests of populating this neglected blog with something, anything, really anything, I decided to undertake a small piece of historical research. One of those little lines of inquiry where the answer is an either open field for thought, or just another piece of useless trivia. But mine is not to reason why, mine is just to tell you what I found.
It goes like this:
The modern history of BC politics usually begins with the ascent to power of WAC Bennett. He first took office as premier in the summer of 1952, nearly 65 years ago.
Counting Bennett, BC has elected 8 premiers up to and including Christy Clark. The others are Dave Barrett, Bill Bennett, Bill Vander Zalm, Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark, and Gordon Campbell. Three others (Rita Johnston, Dan Miller and Ujjal Dosanjh) served as premier without being elected, each taking office after a mid-term resignation by their predecessor. Fine people though they are, they don't count for the purpose of today's exercise.
Now most people would say that this long era has been characterized by a swing between, on the one hand, a coalition party of the centre-right (first Social Credit, then BC Liberals) and on the other hand a coalition party of the left or centre-left (the NDP). The centre-right has won every election since 1952 but three: 1972 (Barrett), 1991 (Harcourt) and 1996 (Glen Clark). Five elected premiers of the centre-right; three of the centre-left. The centre-right has been in power for (roughly) 52 of the last 65 years. That's quite a run.
Here's my fun fact. Of the five elected Social Credit and BC Liberal premiers, only one, Gordon Campbell, had a university degree. Christy Clark attended university but did not graduate. So far as I know, the other three (WAC Bennett, Bill Bennett and Bill Vander Zalm.) never attended university.
All three elected NDP premiers had university degrees. In fact, they each appear to have had at least two degrees. (Barrett and Clark had masters' degrees and Harcourt a law degree).
Since you are wondering, the current NDP leader John Horgan also has two degrees.
Now as I say, I'm not sure if this means anything. As a statistical survey, it's got an awfully small sample size. Of course one question you could ask is whether in seeking high public office in this province it helps or hurts to have a university education. Some might say it's never electorally groovy to appear to be well-educated, especially in the era of you-know-who-down-South. But I'm more interested in how to advance the cause of post-secondary education as a key policy priority for government. I've sometimes found it's harder to do that when you're speaking to someone who's enjoyed success in life without much formal education, as opposed to someone like me - who wouldn't have achieved anything in life without a post-secondary education. Great things have been done for post-secondary education in BC under premiers of all stripes: for example, SFU was established during the long mandate of WAC Bennett, that Kelowna hardware store owner high school dropout. But looking ahead, BC has no serious hope of social and economic prosperity in turbulent times without recognizing that education, education at the highest levels, is not just a wanna-have, but a must-have. Yes for now we need welders. But what we are really going to need are the people who can figure out what we're all going to do when all the welding is done by robots, a day that is coming much faster than most realize. And there's no place quite like a post-secondary education institution to help young minds develop those kinds of thinking skills.