Mr. Premier, you seem to have kept a fairly low profile for the last few weeks, although there has been a lot going on politically. Is this a strategy to keep the road to the Olympics smooth and without any potentially troublesome or embarrassing issues arising I wonder. Or perhaps are you honing your political skills to emulate some of the Olympic events?
You might do well at figure skating as you seem to have been able to skate around that old but insistent issue of BC having the lowest minimum wage in the country. Perhaps you might want to take some lessons from Coach Danny Williams as even Newfoundland’s minimum wage of $9.50 is far above ours and their provincial economy seems to be doing quite well. It appears that he doesn’t buy your assertion that raising the minimum wage will screw up the provincial economy. As I understand it, your position is that raising the minimum wage now during a recession would negatively affect BC’s economy and raising the minimum wage during a strong economy will negatively affect BC’s economy. Then again, I also recall that your vision of BC’s deficit was a bit off (by about 2.3 billion dollars) so I’m thinking that your projections about the horrible impacts of actually legislating that an individual working in BC should make more than $8 an hour are likely as financially suspect.
Then there’s downhill skiing - an event that seems to be paralleling your political popularity at the moment. I understand the last survey completed by Angus Reid in December 2009 gave you the highest disapproval rating of any Premier in Canada with 66 per cent of British Columbians stating that they disapprove of your performance. (By the way, Danny Williams had a 78 per cent approval rating.) I would also suggest that you ski very carefully because should you fall, you might need the services of the Paramedics and that’s a whole other ball of ski wax!
Then there’s the luge or the skeleton to consider. They go downhill really quickly at speeds up to 160 kilometres per hour. N’uff said.
Assuming however that you are not going to actually participate in the sports aspects of the Olympics, my guess is that there will be a number of groups and individuals well prepared to ensure that issues of real concern to those of us who live here will be made visible as Vancouver and Whistler welcome the world in a few weeks. National and international media will be looking at some of Vancouver’s and BC’s more interesting aspects. They might note that we were the only province in Canada to report an increase in greenhouse emissions from major industries as reported in December 2009. They might also note that BC legislated their Paramedics back to work, using the H1N1 as a reason rather than acknowledging that the games themselves required the Paramedics to be available and prepared to assist with the games as contracted, even though the Paramedics had continued to work during the strike. (And you wonder why people have difficulty believing the verbiage that issues from your government.) The international media may also unearth that BC continues to have the highest rate of child poverty in the country, and it’s expected to rise again with the recession. Now that would be embarrassing to have spread across world newspapers. How about BC trying to sell cross-border surgeries to Saskatchewan even though British Columbians are waiting longer and longer for elective surgeries? They might also get hold of the fact that college and university tuition fees for BC students have doubled since 2001, and that the average student is now over $27,000 in debt and will pay over $7,000 in interest fees before paying off their loan. Maybe you forgot that you eliminated the student grants program in 2004 and cut student aid by 14 per cent this past summer? Great way to invest in the future of our province! There’s also the reality that about 882,000 British Columbians will suffer from some form of mental disorder each year, and in response your government and its health authorities have cut mental health and addictions programs throughout the province.
However the thing that is of most concern Mr. Premier is your statement in your 2009 year end interview with the press that your job is only half-finished and that you plan to run for a fourth straight term in 2013. If what you’ve accomplished is only half-done, I’m afraid to think what else you might accomplish given another mandate by the few apparently afflicted with short-term memory loss who voted for you last time.
I must admit though, I really do hope you’re still around when the final bill for the Olympics is in the mail. I want to hear your explanation.
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