Well Happy New Year Mr. Premier! I was wondering whether you were contemplating making any New Year’s resolutions. Just in case, I’ve got a few ideas for you to consider. Most of them you’ve likely heard before, but in the light of a fresh start and only 17 months before provincial elections take place, I thought I’d take the time to offer a few that may bolster your chances of being perceived by voters as a caring, compassionate and concerned leader.
So here you go Mr. Premier. (No need to thank me.)
• Increase the minimum wage to $10.50. Used to be I was urging you to increase it to $10.00, but seeing as how the BC economy ($14 billion surplus) and Canadian dollar is doing so well….and, dump the mean-spirited $6.00 per hour training wage.
• Actually come up with and implement a “green plan.” (Talking about it is fine, but all that hot air and flash bulbs just add to the problem of global warming.)
• Freeze BC Ferries rates, recognize that the ferry system is a part of the provincial highway system, and begin the process of returning the corporation to the people who used to own it and paid for it – us. (You know “us,” the ones who vote and pay taxes.)
•Make clear cutting illegal. (This is another one of those no-brainers.)
• Outlaw any further logging in old growth forests.
• Stop the export of raw logs and work to develop jobs based on value added wood products.
• Let BC Hydro generate its own power rather than insisting that it buy generating capacity from private corporations using our water resources.
• Revamp the new Vancouver Convention Centre as a research centre for climate change and the impact it will have on our oceans. (You could ask David Suzuki to help out here. He seems to be interested and able to address the issues surrounding climate change – maybe even more so than the Governator.)
• Develop and implement a strategy to eliminate the embarrassment of child poverty in BC. (We still lead the nation in this area and I’m sure you’re as uneasy about this as I am.)
• Take a hint from the Sunshine Coast Regional District and provide regional and local governments with the authority to protect the watershed and our drinking water.
• Explain how an Inukshuk ended up being the symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympics (Whistler and Vancouver aren’t really Iqaluit or Ekalatotiak eh!)
• Use all those closed schools and closed long term care beds for low cost housing.
• Pay attention to the Supreme Court ruling about consulting with Unions. It’s just good business.
• Get rid of 3P’s (public private partnerships.) and replace them with 3G’s (good government Gord.)
• Keep supporting the safe injection site in Vancouver. (Good one!)
• Show up in the Legislature occasionally.
• Have fewer “conversations on health” and put those resources into improving the public health care system. (You know, at a cost of $10 million, this must have been one exceptional conversation.)
• Re-think the fact that you scrapped the BC Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women’s Equity. (Tsk!)
• Thousands of people all over BC are homeless. You and your government can make this embarrassment a piece of history with appropriate funding, and by lobbying the federal government to re-assume their part in this situation,
• Increase income assistance rates for all, including people with disabilities, to a level that provides an adequate living standard. Index new rates to the cost of living. At least 60% of people on income assistance in BC have severe disabilities. Even though your government says its goal is to "provide low income persons with disabilities with the best system of support in Canada," people on disability receive only $939 a month, about $400 less than the poverty line for able-bodied people.
• Challenge your government to comply with their obligation under international law to ensure an adequate standard of living for all. Did you know that in 2006, 81,248 British Columbians - a 7.7% increase compared to 2005 - sought assistance from food banks? More than a third of food bank users are children. 34.5% of food banks report they cannot meet the demand.
• Lower or consider eliminating tuition fees for BC students attending universities and recognize that higher education is at core, an investment in our province, our youth and our country’s future, and the current rates are a serious disincentive for poorer and middle-income students. It would be a shame to have higher education available only to those whose families can afford it.
• Get rid of the whole “Guest Worker” program. Acknowledge that the entire concept just stinks.
• Encourage Stephen Harper to get Canada out of the Free Trade Agreement. After all, look how well this agreement worked for the softwood lumber problem.
• Give up TILMA – and any other clandestine deals. Ultimately, it’s just not the right way to run a “transparent” government.
There you go Mr. Premier. As always, I encourage you to chat with the voters, get a sense of what we think and how we see the challenges that face us. It’s important for a leader to stay in touch with those whom he purports to lead.
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