Well Mr. Premier, as much as I’ve enjoyed our admittedly one way conversations over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must admit that it doesn’t seem to be having the impact I had hoped for when we began this monologue.
I’m not sure what I expected when I began this undertaking, but I had anticipated that as you settled in to your position as Premier, the reality of the issues facing our beautiful part of this country might have had an impact on your seemingly unshakable ideology and that of your regressive conservative party. Instead, I continue to hear and read about political decisions and entrenched positions that continue to negatively influence the very fabric of our B.C. society. Since your government came to power, 113 schools have been closed ; since 2001 there has been a net decrease of 1464 long term care beds available to an increasingly ageing population (Along with New Brunswick, BC now has the lowest level of access to residential care beds in Canada for seniors aged 75 and over, falling 13 percent below the national average) ; 2500 teaching positions have been lost ; the minimum wage has been lowered; government support of corporations has been increased; taxes for the very rich have been lowered; MSP payment have been increased by 50%; university tuitions have increased by 96% between 2001/2 and 2006/7 making it increasingly difficult for students to acquire higher education without going into years of debt; homelessness has increased; welfare rates have been lowered drastically since 2002 taking $92 million out of the poorest British Columbian’s pockets ; BC continues to have the highest level of child poverty in Canada at 23.5% ; waiting times for surgeries have lengthened; emergency rooms in some hospitals are so overcrowded that doctors have gone public with their concerns; operating rooms have been closed due to lack of nurses; 1200 hospital beds have been closed ; greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 5.5% in 2006 alone ; BC Gas has been sold; BC Rail has been sold; parts of BC Hydro have been chunked off; the TILMA trade agreement with Alberta has been signed with no public discussion; pressures to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling near Haida Gwaii have been exerted; Ministers and officials in your government have been forced to resign; your government supported the regrettable decision regarding the softwood lumber agreement with the US; logging is again being allowed in Clayoquot Sound; the private delivery of medical services has been quietly allowed to grow with no voice to champion public healthcare; BC Ferries has become a quasi-private corporation with no real accountability to anybody; an American company is administering our MSP plan. There’s more but, I think I’m beginning to sense a pattern here. I’m hoping others see it as well.
Although BC is now being touted this month as creating the highest number of jobs in Canada, most of these jobs are part-time or seasonal in the services and tourism sector and are either minimum wage or very low wages positions. I must admit having a job is better than not having a job, but put in the context of the impacts of your government’s decisions over the past few years, this doesn’t amount to much considering how many jobs have been lost.
However, rather than continuing to offer you my version of a way to govern with a different focus, I’ve decided this will be the last of my “epistles to the ideologues.” I do however want to leave you with some suggested reading. Get yourself a copy of Maude Barlow’s “Too Close for Comfort.” It’s filled with solid facts that outline how you and others have basically provided the ways and means for Canada to be melded with the United States while riding your high horse of private enterprise. I wonder how you’ll feel when HMO’s take over healthcare in BC? Or when BC’s water and hydro resources get put on the table for NAFTA to provide the vehicle to legally obligate us to sell these resources to the U.S.? Or when the Free Trade Agreement demands that we grow only certain kinds of food on our agricultural land or use only terminator seeds provided by Monsanto?
Mr. Premier, I do hope I’m wrong, but I suspect very strongly that your government has made ideological decisions and put into place a very unfortunate series of events fuelled by a fundamentalist neoconservative ideology that will ultimately result in a society that honours and idealizes corporations and profit, and reduces the citizens of BC to bit players on a stage that is far too focused on power and greed and no longer focused on the sanctity and potential of people.
Although this is my last official “Dear Gord” column, I do intend to begin a conversation with a collection of others who inhabit the offices of power, both governmental and corporate, in this land. (Tis better to light one candle than to sit in the dark and whine because somebody sold all our power to the guys next door.) I may even come back to check in from time to time to see how you’re doing.
Too Close for Comfort, Maude Barlow
Too Close for Comfort, Maude Barlow
David Suzuki Foundation 2006
|The Flying Shingle, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada ~ editor@FlyingShingle.com||Web design: Innovative Illusions (Paul Rudyk) ~ webmaster@FlyingShingle.com|