KAMLOOPS — It’s enough to tickle the fancy of any political junky, the prospect of Kevin Krueger directing traffic in City Hall, sitting up there in the mayor’s chair presiding over council meetings.
For Krueger, who got his nickname Foghorn back in the days when as a Liberal MLA and cabinet minister he relentlessly heckled and bellowed at the hapless New Democrats on the other side of the Legislature, is suddenly a player in the complicated web of possibilities in civic politics.
He let it be known on Facebook this week that he’s seriously considering a political comeback of sorts, taking a run at council barely three years and a bit after leaving the Ledge. To be clear, he says he’d only run for the top job in City Hall if Ken Christian doesn’t, and Ken has long been clear that the only thing he’s been waiting for is for Peter Milobar to clear out his desk.
But politicians have been known to change their minds, and I wonder if Kevin would be happy for long as just one of eight councillors instead of being in charge.
What fun it would be, what a gift to the media, what entertainment for the multitudes. In full bluster, he’s a joy to watch, for Kevin Krueger is a sincere man who wears his heart, his faith and his politics on his sleeve. There’s no discernible filter there, no pause button.
You can get along swimmingly with Kevin for 99 days, agreeing on everything under the sun, accomplishing many things together, and if on the 100th day you get on his wrong side, watch out. I know; I’ve been there. (Here’s a tip: don’t bring up that business in Kelowna where the provincial government had to pay a mining company $30 million in compensation when he was minister of state for mining.)
The NDP, of course, have always been his favourite target, but he also called the BC Conservatives “unmitigated morons” and “scum.”
Adrian Dix of the NDP called him “a walking smear campaign.” Respected Victoria Times Colonist Les Leyne wrote shortly before Krueger ended his career in provincial politics that the MLA from Kamloops had abandoned all pretense of being nice. Vancouver Sun columnist Craig McInnes called him “a boor and a bully.”
Krueger, in his own defence, has said he never sets out to make anyone angry but he has to say what’s on his mind. He’s probably apologized once or twice for things he’s said, though I don’t remember when.
Flyin’ Phil Gaglardi used to say that after God made Phil he threw away the mold, but I think there must have been a small shard left for Kevin Krueger, for they share a love of microphones. As highways minister in W.A.C. Bennett’s Social Credit government, Phil was the most famous politician ever to come out of British Columbia but he was a flop when he returned as the mayor of Kamloops.
He was unhappy in the job, unused to consensus politics. He was made to be the boss, not one of the team.
Would the same thing happen to Kevin in City Hall, where it’s not considered appropriate to stand up and call fellow councillors scum and idiots if they disagree with you? I don’t know, but it would be fun to find out. And it would be anything but boring.
If both Krueger and Christian should end up running for mayor, or even if both somehow end up on council, it would be a delicious contrast. Christian is measured, articulate, thoughtful, chooses his words with care — a perfect foil for Krueger’s bombast.
After Krueger let the cat out of the bag this week that he’s thinking about it, he received a lot of strokes on Facebook telling him to go for it, that “we need you” and so on.
You go, Kevin.