Gord! I thought I was going to be able to leave you for a while, hoping that the antics of your superegos, Stephen and George, would attract my attention. But two things happened that re-captured my focus and encouraged me to re-instate our monologue – at least for one more epistle to the ideologues.
I must admit Gord, you seized my attention when your throne speech acknowledged that you had some concern about “the environment.” I heard somewhere that you had read “The Weathermakers” by Tim Flannery and had actually watched Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and that these two wake-up calls had broken through the shell of detachment in which you had encased yourself and your party for the past few years, and ignited some flame of passion for the planet’s condition.
Well, Mr. Premier, my ears actually perked up – although I must admit my reaction was tenuous – kind of like hearing that Josef Ratzinger, also known as Pope Benedict XVI, had all of a sudden come out in favour of birth control and women priests! Too good to be true, but what the heck, I’m still able to be surprised! And then, Arnold Schzwareneger, the Governator of the state (of mind) of California, indicated his delight at your new found religious belief in and appreciation of “the environment.” Wow, I thought, even a Republican third rate actor and bodybuilder from Austria thinks you’re on the right track! I knew then that I had to re-evaluate my cynical approach to this new incarnation of a green Gord! (As Lily Tomlin has been quoted as saying: “The trouble with cynicism is that it’s hard to keep up.”)
Having listened to your recent entreaties on the CBC in which you pleaded with regular BC’ers to consider “the environment”, I eagerly awaited your Finance Minister’s budget expecting to hear about the significant financial commitments that were going to be earmarked for addressing the challenges of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, the development of alternate energy resources and other socially responsible approaches to the current social and ecological state of affairs! Ah, I thought, the very attractive and seemingly intelligent Carole Taylor will now have the wherewithal to direct significant funds to supporting your newly inspired eco-focus and hopefully, an equally sensitive “socially responsible” approach to other challenges seeing as how you made the connection between people and the planet. Hmm, well as Cuba Gooding Jr. would have said, “show me the money.” Gord, I must admit, I didn’t see the money. I figured that I’d be hearing about whacks of our dollars directed to developing alternate energy sources. I hoped that I would hear about new wind and solar and tidal and thermal approaches to energy sourcing, along with announcements regarding public transportation and the development of people friendly energy and social programs that would recognize and acknowledge how people fit into this eco-friendly vision that you had recently been baptized into.
Instead, I heard one of the finest versions of political bafflegab I’ve been subjected to in many years. I was exposed to a “housing budget” that had damn near nothing to do with housing and certainly had almost nothing to support the newly minted “green” colour that had been such a significant part of your colourful throne speech a few weeks earlier. It reminded me that being “green” can also refer to mould! Gord, it’s not just me. On Feb 21, 2007, Keith Baldrey of Global TV reacted to your Finance Minister’s labelling of her tabled financial document as a “housing budget” by commenting that it was "the most misleading part of any budget I have seen since the Liberals came to power." The same day, Michael Smyth of the Vancouver Province wrote: "Somebody should sue the Liberal government's spin doctors for malpractice, because they sure botched the operation yesterday” and Paul Willcocks in the Victoria Times-Colonist wrote: "…can anyone argue with a straight face that a tax cut worth $25 a month to a typical family is really the centrepiece of an effective housing strategy?" And Gord, it seems to me that you haven’t yet got the connection that our planet is our house, our home. It’s all we have.
Now Gord, it was nice of you to give us back a 10% provincial tax cut. Good news for those of us making enough to pay taxes. Makes for a good “sound bite” on the local evening news. But, when the truth is revealed that it may put about $25 a month of “our money” back into our “average” pockets, I suspect that most people I know would have been much happier if you had taken this amount and put it towards building some real bricks and mortar housing. Funding a few emergency beds is nice, but has nothing to do with assisting our most vulnerable individuals and families to get a home.
Now I’m not saying that everything your budget contains is wide of the mark – there were some positive aspects to it. What I am saying is that there is truly little in it that addresses the challenges and the needs of the people who are on the fringes or “just making it.” I don’t expect a budget to be all things to all people, but I do expect that a “housing” budget should actually contain some real programs to assist people with housing, and a “green” throne speech should actually foster a budget with some significant dollars to address the very substantial ecological issues that your government has belatedly acknowledged.
And while we’re talking about your government’s budget, I noticed that there was really little in it to address the increasing embarrassment of BC having the highest rate of child poverty in Canada. Now I’m not saying that you’re not trying, but Gord, I’m thinking that you and your neo-con “liberals” are just simply out of touch with the “average” person who lives in BC. Maybe it’s just time to start thinking about another job. If it’s something you’re not good at yet, you could always start at the training wage of $6.00 for the first 300 hours!
Til next time.
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