Mr. Premier, hopefully this is the second last missive I shall be penning to your right honourable self. With any luck, the last one will be a short communication wishing you well in your new endeavours.
As you and your handlers choreograph the last stages of this election process, it feels a bit like the dance of an unwilling stripper – layer by layer the intent and the consequences of your government’s decisions are being revealed. British Columbians are losing their jobs at an accelerated rate; employment insurance applications have increased in BC by 11.6 % last month alone; child poverty, embarrassingly, remains the highest in the country; (I haven’t yet heard you comment about this statistic during your campaign); the minimum wage will soon be the lowest in the land; the six dollar per hour training wage remains in force; British Columbia remains one of the only provinces to impose a health care tax like the MSP and most don’t know that it is deposited quietly into “general revenues;” raw logs continue to be exported; your “revenue neutral” carbon tax has increased the cost of home heating fuel and punished people who live outside of urban areas with public transit; your government has suspended all forestry research in spite of claiming that you support forestry, and your environment minister just canned a significant number of the park rangers in our provincial parks. (Well, sort of more or less, as when challenged you and Mr. Penner kind of indicated that maybe there was some sort of room to look at this again….) Mr. Premier, these men and women who work in our parks (at least I think they’re still “our” parks. I can’t recall that they’ve been sold too) are the people who ensure they are safe, teach us and our children about the park ecosystems and help instill a love of the outdoors. As well, during hard economic times, parks are a vacation destination for families without a lot of money.
Mr. Premier, this decision reminds one of the way in which your government so cavalierly cut the provincial parks interpretive programs, privatized the care and running of our provincial parks and then introduced parking meters in our parks. I’m not clear how these decisions fit with your stated urge to promote a green approach and a love of the land. Hmm, parking meters in parks … nice touch. Maybe you just confused “parking” with “parks.”
I’ve heard you express concern about the economy. Were you aware that last month BC led the country in job loses? We lost 23,000 jobs – more than any other province or territory. Were you aware that BC’s economy actually shrank by 0.3% in 2008 for the first time since 1982, while Canada’s overall GDP grew by over 0.5%? Did you know (I can only assume you might have access to these statistics) that BC has the highest rate of poverty in Canada? Despite years of strong economic growth and record low unemployment, over half a million British Columbians — 13 percent of the total population — live in poverty, and homelessness continues to rise. It would appear that a significant number of British Columbians are not sharing in our province’s “healthy economy.”
Mr. Premier, there are so many things about your last few years at the helm of the political process in BC that deserve another look. There is the “run of river” project that, in reality, is designed mostly for export of power by private companies. Many of these projects have not undergone an environmental impact study. Add to this that BC Hydro will be required to buy power from these projects, which has the potential to increase our hydro costs by up to 25%. Many of these rivers are in our last expanses of intact wilderness.
There is the BC Rail issue that you won’t talk about, using the rationale that it is “before the courts.” It seems to me that “before the courts” is a politician’s dream excuse to avoid answering questions.
There is the non-public manner in which you maneuvered the TILMA into place.
There’s your attempt to stifle democratic discussion around election time with the “gag law.”
There’s your government’s support of ending the moratorium on oil and gas exploration along the BC coast. I’m just not sure how the possibility of a major oil spill along the coast of BC fits with your carbon tax approach to the environment. Have you heard of the Exxon Valdez?
There’s also the fish farm debacle. Mr. Premier, remember if we lose our wild salmon to lice and disease, we lose everything that depends on them, including a way of life for many First Nations people and fishermen and tourism.
Mr. Campbell, you may be a good salesman. It’s just that BC doesn’t need to be sold.
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