Mr. Premier, I wonder, has anyone mentioned to you that there’s an election coming up in May? Have you become so habituated to being in power that you now feel free to make or support decisions that are so completely out of touch with the current reality that faces most British Columbians? Have your handlers quit like so many of your current caucus members?
I appreciate that your government’s Bill 42, affectionately known as the “Gag Law” will keep a lot of democratic discussion out of the public realm during the 88 days that precede the provincial election. It may even provide you and your fellow Liberals with a sense of security knowing that there is a limit on the amount of money that can be utilized for political advertising in an attempt to influence voters during the time leading up to the election. As NDP MLA Leonard Krog said, this bill is “going to virtually criminalize behaviour which is the fundamental foundation of any democratic society.” However, it would appear that Bill 42 might have provided you and your government with a false sense of security thinking that very few British Columbians will pay much attention to the many issues that face our province and that need to be addressed during these 88 days.
So back to my original question about some of your recent decisions. You must be aware that the semi-publically-owned-private corporation that runs BC Ferries has just announced another rate increase? Are you aware that for the smaller commuter routes like Gabriola - Nanaimo, the increase is 7.25% and for the bigger routes, 3.74%? Have you by chance heard that BC, along with the rest of the world, is currently experiencing a recession-soon-to-be-depression? Do you recall that it was your government that turned BC Ferries into a “private corporation”? Are you aware that those of us who live in ferry dependent communities consider BCF to be public transportation? So Gord, I was thinking that allowing BCF to raise the cost of public transportation during the biggest economic slump since 1929 is likely not the smartest or most sensitive economic or political move. Now, before you respond that BCF is a private company and you and your cohorts would never interfere with the running of a private corporation like BCF, remember your decision to reduce fares in December and January to make life more tolerable in these hard economic times for people who depended on the ferries to get to work and to visit their families. Nice touch! So, I’m suggesting that you once again get in touch with that sensitive, avuncular quality and actually stand up for those of us who use public transportation. Have a chat with Mr. Hahn, and perhaps with your arm around his shoulder, let him know where you stand on public transportation and how it fits with your “green plan” so that the fares on BCF can be stabilized at the December/January rates and your government and BCF can be seen as sensitive, caring and trustworthy organizations with responsive and insightful leadership.
Now while I’m running the risk of being arrested and tasered by the Bill 42 enforcers, I’m also going to make some further observations that are creating some questions in the daily conversations that British Columbians are quietly continuing to have in spite of the gag law.
There is some significant concern about the incredible overruns of the estimates for the cost of security for the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Over five times as expensive as I recall.)
As well, there has been some quiet observation that the Vancouver Conference Centre is now costing more than the “fast ferry fiasco” that seemed to be the Achilles’ heel of the previous government.
Then there’s the whole emerging issue about irregularities with the BC Rail sale that seems to be surfacing.
There’s also the nagging problem of homelessness that Auditor General John Doyle just highlighted in a report stating that your government, “has no clear strategy when it comes to reducing and preventing homelessness”.
On top of all these issues, there remains the issue of the recent increases at BC Hydro, the odd fact of Timberwest becoming a real estate developer, the “couple of trees” logging on the Englishman River, the minimum wage that hasn’t changed in years, the level of child poverty in BC, the intriguing contradictions in your recent budget and the planned reduction of the BC civil service when your government claims that it wants to stimulate the economy.
Gord, it seems to me that these issues should be addressed. Limiting public discussion or simply ignoring issues that don’t fit with your party’s belief system will not make them go away. However, keep it up and it might just make the Liberals go away!
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