AbeBooks.com. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.
Feed on
Cartoon by Ingrid Rice

Cartoon by Ingrid Rice

Surveying the BC Liberal wreckage brings to mind Cromwell’s famous exhortation.

Judging from the madness coming from Victoria the gods must be very angry indeed.

The premier promises to pour more than $100 billion into a so-called Prosperity Fund (this from a government that has tripled the provincial debt since taking office). The money is supposed to flow from development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the riches at first promised to arrive three years from today, and now projected to be five years away — safely past the 2017 election. All of those billions are to be generated by a source that may not even exist if natural gas prices don’t rise and the betting is they won’t.

In fact Russia has now identified the two largest shale gas deposits in the world and the latest from China is that she has sufficient energy to last her 500 years. America will be self-sufficient in two years using, ironically, tar sands oil. Whether these stories turn out to be 100 per cent right remains to be seen. “Fracking” shale gas in quantity is new on the world energy stage but it does tell you that this is not a very good time to be declaring huge Prosperity Funds from gas sales five years hence. Moreover, even if LNG does turn out to be a moneymaker for B.C., thanks to the fiscal ineptness of the Liberals the money will be badly needed in general revenue.

Time out to look at that last bit. The Liberals claim that their fiscal woes came from a recession they couldn’t see coming. That is, as my old St. Georges master used to say, tommyrot. The only way they could have been surprised was to avoid paying attention. If my wife and I could see it coming, and act upon it, surely the minister of finance could have, indeed should have, seen it too. The stock market was over-heated. It was the longest bull market on record. All stock brokers were selling instruments which bundled unsafe mortgages. The real estate market had gone nuts. But somehow the Campbell/Clark government didn’t sense that something was wrong with this picture!

In 1980, during very good times, finance minister Hugh Curtis came to a cabinet I happened to be in, saying that bad times were imminent. He knew this because of figures the ministry of finance gave him about sales tax revenues, stumpage and other indicators. The government immediately put in a restraint program whose first impact was felt by ministers themselves. In 1983 Bennett ran on a “restraint” program and won handily. They were tough times but B.C. did better than anywhere else in Canada.

The NDP during the 1990s do have a fair excuse for their fiscal problems for when the Thai baht suddenly crashed the entire world was caught by surprise. To all intents and purposes B.C. lost its forest industry.

Tallying the damage

Back to today.

Premier Clark has done nothing but flip flop. She has not shown a soupcon of leadership on any front and has been appalling on environmental issues at a time, as never before, that subject has British Columbians seriously concerned.

It’s not brain surgery, folks. Pipelines will burst and tankers will sink and when they do, they will be impossible to clean up because of the substance being transported, bitumen, is heavier than water and and more viscous than molasses, thus fatal to all that comes in contact with it. The consequences are horrible — see the billion dollar Enbridge Kalamazoo spill for an eye-opener. And unlike there, B.C.’s rugged terrain offers no way one can get equipment into the areas these pipelines traverse.

Under the Campbell/Clark government we’ve seen 70 rivers in one state of ruin or another in what has euphemistically called “run of river,” while putting a very healthy BC Hydro into what in the private sector, would be bankruptcy. For those who haven’t followed this, under deals the Liberals have forced on BC Hydro, it must buy all the private power produced at more than double the market price and about 10 times what they can make it for themselves whenever it’s produced! The biggest production of private power comes with the run-off when BC Hydro’s reservoirs are full and it doesn’t need it. (No, it cannot be stored.)

I know it’s hard to believe that any government could be so stupid but political power does go to the head and full election coffers are a joy to behold. When one includes the BC Ferries shenanigans it’s surely fair to label this government as corrupt.

Despite all this and more, the Liberals, with breathtaking chutzpah, will be running on their assertion that the NDP are bad monetary managers while they are super.

The election in May will see the Liberals running on issues of the 1990s, never letting us forget that Adrian Dix once backdated a sensitive document — for which he resigned, something Gordon Campbell didn’t do when he shamed the province by going to jail for drunk driving.

Just go

Apart from all other considerations this government has been in power too long.

To the meat of the matter. Christy Clark bodes well to become the Ujjal Dosanjh of 2013 with the same consequences and they have something in common — both were actively disapproved of by their caucuses from the beginning.

One must always start the next point by saying that in politics six weeks is an eternity and that strange things can happen in elections. Having said that, why doesn’t the premier step down and let someone with the confidence of the party, both the caucus and the membership, take over?.

It surely can’t be that she’s dumb enough to think she deserves another go at it! Could it just be hubris? Does she really think that she will do better in the election than, say, George Abbott?

Is it a matter of personal pride? Does she not care that because of her personal desires she destroyed the Liberal party?

Surely she knows that if May 14 produces a wipe out the result will not be like 2001 when the NDP were wiped out, because they still had a vibrant party on which to rely. As with the Socreds in 1991, the “right” will go through political convulsions before they can establish a new coalition. Does the premier not understand that? Does she care?

The truth is that Christy Clark has been a disaster from the start, as I predicted when she became leader. Now she’s about to pull down her party and send its core support into the ether, only to be recaptured after a minimum of four years but more likely at least eight or even more.

Now we see Liberal candidates, obviously ashamed, playing down their party.

As Cromwell said to the Rump parliament, repeated by Leo Amery referring to Neville Chamberlain on May 10, 1940:

“You have been sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Leave a Reply