Well Mr. Premier, you’ve managed to be spoken of by almost every citizen of British Columbia on Canada Day and beyond. And as long as you hold to the principle that there’s no such thing as bad press, well I’d say you’ve accomplished a great deal.
When I went to put gas in my car a few days ago, I’d say that almost everyone at the local Co-op was talking about you. And I’m fairly clear that when most of the people I know start to think about loading up on propane or fuel oil for the coming winter, once again your name will be bandied about.
Now I believe that your intentions were good and I suspect that the idea of a carbon tax could be a step in the right direction and part of an overall effective approach to address climate change. However, it might have been a bit wiser to have engaged the other parties in a dialogue about this carbon tax idea, before issuing your decree. I’ve always been of the firm belief that not just one point of view has all the wisdom that any particular change in direction might require. It might have demonstrated wisdom to have put together a group composed of non-partisan people along with a few environmentalists, a couple of scientists, some business people, a smattering of Liberals and NDP and perhaps even a token Conservative, and given them the task of coming up with very concrete, time-sensitive recommendations as to how best to address the challenges of a deteriorating environment, while recognizing and addressing the unique situations of certain segments of the population. It could have resulted in an approach that might not have had such a profound impact on farmers, northerners and rural people, people on fixed incomes, truckers, food prices, those with no access to public or alternate methods of transportations and the like. It might have resulted in a more thoughtful, incremental and informed response to the situation in which we all (political attitudes aside) find ourselves. And Gord, the $100. The optics here just aren’t good. And “revenue neutral?” Gord, remember we were told that the GST was “revenue neutral.” And it’s not particularly encouraging to know that you felt it was reasonable to ensure that CEO’s and people making $500,000 and more a year got the same $100 as the senior living on $990 or the disabled individual living on $953 per month. I’m actually thinking that many British Columbians would have preferred that you use all this “extra cash” to a) raise the minimum wage or b) get rid of the distasteful MSP payment seeing as how BC is now the only province left charging this regressive tax for health care! That in itself could save the average British Columbian around $1000 a year!
Now Mr. Premier, the other issue that’s got a few people talking is this dead horse that David Hahn is trying to resuscitate - the idea of a bridge to Gabriola via Mudge. (The first step into Gabriola becoming a ferry terminal for the erudite Vancouverites who want to cut a few minutes from their lengthy ocean cruise to the big island. Just think, we could have locals selling their wares at the new terminus and even make a few bucks via the visitors from the cruise ships that seem to be infesting the Nanaimo harbour recently.) Now I know that your government set up BCF so that there would be no political interference with their 65 year long contract to deliver quality service to ferry dependent communities. But Gord, a bridge? Doesn’t your government have enough bridges to build, both physical and metaphorical? Perhaps you and David could have a chat and you could use your influence and your passion for the environment to assist him in re-directing his energy into something else – maybe providing quality ferry service at reasonable prices. You could even encourage him to start investigating alternate sources of energy for ferry transportation like wind, or solar or even cable. There are other avenues aside from the old (and very expensive) alternative of a fixed link. How about using some of that carbon tax money to help develop new, sustainable and reasonably priced options for inter-island transportation rather than your government continuing to try to have the moratorium lifted on oil drilling on the coast of BC?
I know it’s easy to be an armchair umpire from the sidelines, but Mr. Premier, I’d really encourage you to consider the idea of participatory democracy and collective discussion rather than reverting to ramming legislation through the legislature and making regal pronouncements as if your particular point of view held the answer of all answers.
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