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foreclosedI always read the comments to this journal, the Tyee, Norm Farrell’s In-Sights and others and I often add comments of my own. What I’ve been interested to learn is what possible defense Liberal supporters can make for this wretched government we’ve had since 2001.

It might be argued that these comments are mostly from left wingers. I have no idea about that but I must say that if I were in politics and defending the government, these are the kind of places where I would do it because this is where those critical readers are. A better explanation for the lack of a defense of the Clark government in these papers is that there is none!

In reading comments I came up with the following one in the Tyee last week, which was the only one I could find where there was any kind of a defense one really felt compelled to deal with:

Fact is, right now, BC is highly successful given solid policies of the Christy Clark BC Liberals government. Best economy of ANY government in Canada; Lowest unemployment rate; balanced funding for healthcare and education and other programs.

BC is doing really well.

The myth of “balanced” budgets

Let’s deal with the latter point first – “balanced funding for healthcare and education and other programs.” I am going to assume that the writer means “balanced budget”.

Many far more expert than I have written on the fraud that is implicit in the words “balanced budget” as they relate to this Government in particular. Obviously, the writer believes that “balanced budgets”, Liberal style, have provided funding for healthcare and education. Indeed, a proper balanced budget does demonstrate the true state of fiscal affairs throughout the government and may point to that conclusion.

These Liberal “balanced budgets” do no such thing and aren’t even close to being balanced.

It’s the old maxim “garbage in, garbage out”. If you only include the good things, or perhaps it’s better put the other way – if you leave out the bad bits, then you’re going to be able to look as if you balanced it.

Hydro drowning in private power debt

One of the fiscal catastrophes of this government is BC Hydro, which now owes $76 billion due to their pork barrelling policies in giving the making of power to their friends, Independent Power Producers (or IPPs) in the private sector, on a highly contemptible and scarcely subtle sweetheart deal. Below is the record in graphic form of what the Campbell/Clark government has forced BC Hydro to pay IPPs, their high donating supporters, for private power (in 2016 dollars).

In 2015 – get this now – BC Hydro paid these generous donors to the Liberal Party, $672 million more than market value for their power! As you pay your higher hydro rates, remember the money is going to these bastards! This money is owed by you, hence by the government, yet it doesn’t show up in their budget! Poof, it’s gonzo!

This is like you taking your mortgage payments or your bank loan or car loan out of your own personal budget and patting yourself on the back for great fiscal acumen.

Well, try that on your banker and see what he says about your balanced budget.

The premier, brash as brass, and the finance minister, looking embarrassed, tell everyone that the budget is balanced so all is well with the world. The fact is we are in terrible financial shape and the government is lying through its teeth.

True debt has skyrocketed under Liberals

Here are the real statistics as as the Liberals claim to be delivering “balanced” budgets while the province’s financial obligations increased $72 billion in the last six years, more than the provincial debt in the BC’s first 135 years. Liberal claims of balanced budget rely on accounting fashioned to mislead voters. It results in absurd situations such as: keeping BC Hydro’s huge debts off the government’s books while including “dividends” from BC Hydro to the government as revenue, although the utility has to borrow the money shifted into provincial accounts; and dividing expenditures into ordinary (operating) and extraordinary (capital) expense, while counting only the former as a budgetary expense.

Below is the real picture, in 2016 dollars.

BC is certainly amongst the lowest in unemployment in Canada and that is obviously a good thing. It’s just not as great as we would like to believe.

In many ways, to compare BC to other parts of Canada with far different economies makes as much sense as comparing it to South American countries. Unless the issues in other provinces are relatively the same, it’s comparing apples and oranges. There are similarities, of course, such as the value of the Canadian dollar, but here again, that affects different regions in different ways.

Probably the main reason B.C. is doing so much better comparatively than the rest of Canada is because its economy isn’t as vulnerable to changes in the price of oil. Plummeting oil prices have led to drastic job losses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Atlantic Canada. In other words, comparisons are odious and produce a misleading picture which makes BC look better than it is.

More to life than employment numbers

The Liberals can’t claim credit for something that is beyond their control and is merely a comparison with other, very different economies. For the individual, life is not only the job but what that employment brings with it. The desired result is not just having a job but having security with it. Will the job bring the opportunity to own a home? How long, if ever, will it take to be able to afford that home? Will I be able to afford transportation to and from that job? What are the schools like? Is there a bad crime situation? Is the government in sound shape, sufficient to provide the social amenities today’s society has come to expect?

We hardly need reminding of the housing situation and how until we got into an election year, Premier Clark acted as if there was nothing to worry about. She has dithered, taking her laissez-faire advice from rich condo builders, until this has become a full-blown crisis she is unable to deal with.

At the very same time that Christy Clark is losing money in government and in BC Hydro and taking useless trips to China and Singapore, she would have you believe that education, health, welfare, mental illness, services to children in need, services to women in need, shelter for the less well-off are in superb shape – combined with a superior education system which is fully funded. As the Duke of Wellington said to the man who greeted him with “Mr. Robinson, I believe”, “If you believe that, you’ll believe anything”. 

Not a pretty picture

The fact is the government is a fiscal mess. Its largest asset, BC Hydro, is technically bankrupt, facing an $9+ billion bill for Site C. The Liberals have a dismal record in their Health Ministry and a worse one in Children and Families, an Education Ministry in disarray, a disgraceful history of neglect of the mentally ill and on the sad saga goes.

I’m afraid to tell my friends, if any, on the Liberal party side that they have no argument and, in my barrister days, I would have been delighted to take a jury trial against them as defendants.

But that’s not the end of the matter. They have also turned out to be a corrupt government from top to bottom, starting with the premier. Her airline expenses are totally unacceptable. The fact she uses, at your expense, a permanent television cameraman for her photo-ops tells the story when you think about it. Her method of selling herself to the highest bidder in collecting money for the Liberal party is outrageous and invites insidious comparisons, scarcely respectful of her office.

LNG takes the cake

God knows I could go on but I close by reminding everyone of the ongoing LNG fiasco. Warned by the experts years ago there would be no market, this spinner of fanciful tales has piled on one empty promise after another. She’s 0 for 22 in the LNG plants promised, has ignored all environmental concerns, used patently biased Environmental Assessment processes, not even bothered with one when she didn’t feel like it, made a firm deal with  a jungle-burning, tax-evading bully-boy owner of Woodfibre LNG proposed for Squamish, and continues her fanciful, First Class, tax paid sales junkets to non-existing markets and, in spite of even worsening market conditions, plans even more.

The only possible excuse for Christy Clark’s catastrophic leadership is that lack of education and experience has left her having no idea of what she should do.

And as Porkypine observed, “Pogo, the confidence of ignorance has not died out.”

2 Responses to “Under Liberal govt, BC is drowning in hidden debt”

  1. D. M. Johnston says:

    Rafe, there is no defense because grifters have no defense.

    Gordon Campbell’s political theory was simple, financially rape the province and ensure your political friends do very well by it.

    The current Premier has taken this one step further, by accepting quasi legal graft, through a payment from the BC Liberal party.

    No one is running government in BC, it is which grifter can get the most at this point in time. It is nothing more than organized crime in charge of government and the “boss” is playing a numbers game, which only insiders will benefit. Hence mounds of hidden debt, to make the rubes believe that BC has the best economy. The rubes are like the sheep in Animal Farm, bleating “economy good, NDP bad”.

    And where is Horgan and the NDP?

    God knows because one would think the David Eby was not only a boisterous member of the seemingly stealth party, but he alone is the NDP and the official opposition.

  2. Lacho says:

    “And where is Horgan and the NDP?”

    The truth is that he doesn’t want to inherit the historic mess that the Liberals created. He knows, as do many others, that the NDP will somehow get much of the blame for it if they are on the clock when “everything” finally hits the fan. The NDP party cannot take another existential setback like that. The only one on their side with the requisite “damn the torpedoes” type of cajones is Eby. He knows the truth, and instead of cowering in hopes that either the storm will magically blow over or that his name won’t be called to preside over the coming round of apocalyptic dodge-ball, he has stepped up to do the job he signed up for. Very impressive, and a rare display of leadership. I’d like to see Heyman follow his lead.

    Ironically, the Liberals don’t really want to win in 2017 either.** No one knows better than they do what is about to transpire in this Province. They were the architects of the coming “bust out”, after all. The real estate bubble exploding is only the beginning of the perfect storm scenario that is imminent. The debt-exacerbated chain reaction that will follow is going to remind many of the Lehman melt-down and the sub-prime crisis. More privatization, greater taxation (literal and oblique), and a more than passing civic resemblance to Detroit, Stockton, and potentially Greece (God forbid) is likely. It didn’t have to be this way.

    Warren Buffet once said: “You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” Thanks to the Liberals and their bosses, we are embarking upon a series of full-moon sightings that Carl Sagan couldn’t begin to explain. Indeed; “don’t look Ethel!”.

    The Liberals like to call the NDP “The Party of NO”. It’s ridiculously childish and inaccurate, desperate really, but it works and it has stuck. Just ask Dix. The NDP needs to demonstrate that the Liberals are the party of “net zero”; zero leadership, zero conscience, zero financial acumen, zero LNG fantasies becoming realities, zero prosperity fund balance, zero vision for a sustainable future for BC. None of us deserve to be held hostage by this evil circus, but we all are.

    **I mentioned that the Libs don’t actually want to win. They are showing their true colours these days more than ever (Christy and the $50K, De Jong’s epic speciousness and obtuseness, Bernier impersonating a mall-salesman, Larson refusing to apologize and Christy backing her up, etc., etc.) and will continue to do so right up to election day. Why? Because in their way of thinking the Provence is consenting to their approach by not evicting them from office with extreme prejudice, and by their never being held accountable *for anything*. That belief will morph into an even darker, more rapacious mandate should they prevail in 2017. God help us if that comes to pass.

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