So Mr. Premier, at the recent meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities, you compared yourself and your finance minister, Colin Hansen, to “skating partners” stating that your implementation of the generally despised HST was a bit “rushed”.
You advised this group of municipal politicians that you and Hansen “soldiered on with our program, though some were saying the only thing we really mastered was the death spiral . . . few disputed the degree of difficulty we attempted, but we did fail to convey its technical merits. And let’s be honest, we bombed on artistic impression”.
Well Mr. Premier, if you want to use the metaphor of figure skating, I have to jump in and suggest that a) neither of you would look good in tights or a short skating skirt, or b) spinning for extended periods of time does seem to be your forte! Maybe both of you could sharpen your skates and come up with a new program and a new artistic coach.
Perhaps the music for the (hopefully) short program could be “Beggars at the Feast” from Les Miserables. (This of course would be a direct reference to your unwillingness to consider raising the minimum wage or doing anything about BC having the highest level of child poverty in Canada.) If this didn’t suit your artistic sensitivity, how about “Drink with Me” from the same musical? This could reflect your obviously keen sense of the absurd as your government has brought in the most stringent anti-drunk driving laws in the country. Failing this (and sticking with the same musical) there’s always the song “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” which I suspect may describe the next election campaign for your party.
Personally, I’d be pleased to see you and Mr. Hansen skating to any of these powerful songs, and I’d be happy to volunteer to be the commentator as your performance is evaluated by the people of this province.
And as we’ve moved towards the subject of the arts, this may also be the time to remind you that currently BC has the lowest per capita funding of the arts in the entire country. Even with the few extra dollars that your government “restored” to the arts this year following a huge public outcry, BC funds the arts at $6.34 per person per year while the smallest province, PEI, funds their arts at $44.16 per capita and the Yukon at $268.00 per capita.
You must be aware that the arts contribute over $5.2 billion annually to the provincial GDP. Your government has cut arts and cultural funding by 90 per cent since you came into power. Over 80,000 people work in this sector and the resultant loss of jobs can only hurt the BC economy even more.
It’s intriguing to try to sort out how your government can blow so much money on the Olympics, or a retractable roof, or a new conference centre, but cut funding to a productive and important segment of the economy. You only have to come to our island of Gabriola and see how the arts and cultural component adds to the economic and creative health of our community, and then extrapolate this information to the rest of the province.
Research shows that every dollar invested in the arts returns as $1.36 in general revenue – and that’s excluding tourism and the film industry. It must do your business-oriented heart good to know that we’re at the bottom of the list not just for the minimum wage but also for cultural funding.
Speaking of the minimum wage embarrassment, did you hear that twenty-one mayors of various BC cities joined with the BC Federation of Labour last Tuesday to ask you to scrap the $6 per hour training wage and raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour? They noted that “…many of the poor are working poor, people who are working each and every day and yet can’t make ends meet. They’re the people that are unable to provide their children with the necessities”. The Federation of Labour advised that an estimated 63,000 BC workers earn the minimum wage, while another 293,000 make less than $10 an hour.
I remember that you said when the economy’s in good shape, raising the minimum wage isn’t necessary. You later stated that when the economy’s in bad shape, business cannot afford to pay their workers more than the current minimum wage. That approach to economics may be a large part of the reason why BC now has such a large deficit. You can’t have it both ways Mr. Premier.
There is an old saying about politics that may refer to the current situation in this province: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason”.
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