Here in B.C., our government has a long history of marching ahead boldly with "action plans," grandiose schemes, flashy advertisements -- and pretty much all for naught. When anyone takes time to pick away at the schemes and bold ventures, like an onion, the core is eventually revealed and more often than not, it's just a rotten smelly mess.
Since first elected, the B.C. Liberals have systematically stripped, degraded and otherwise mismanaged every core ministry in this province and that is inarguable. I have spent considerable time documenting all of it in the 100 reasons the B.C. Liberals must go.
Court services closed, legal services cut, degradation of mental health services, education under-funded, health-care expansions widely hailed and lauded but without staff to complement new facilities. For example, when the Jimmy Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre opened in Surrey it was like a ghost town. Why? Not enough staff to operate in a fully functional manner. Why? There was a shortage of qualified staff.
So what did they do? Stole staff from Surrey Memorial and moved them to Jimmy Pattison up the street, leaving suddenly much longer wait times at SMH because of a staff shortage. Wow, what a solution.
The forestry industry in this province is dying. Dying. Why? Because the Liberals mismanaged it so badly auditor John Doyle said in a scathing, shocking audit, there is only a small window of opportunity to turn it around. Why? Because the Liberals don't have a clue what they are doing.
So what happens? We have a bi-partisan committee that makes a report that both Liberal and NDPs praised themselves on, while the truth is all MLAs blew a big change to make things right. (This is a must-read: I hold Bill Bourgeios in very high regard with his vast experience and knowledge. The comments section also offers some interesting connections in some communities that make you go hmmmm. The province would be well served if he were in charge of our forests.)
The Legislative Assembly Management Committee Act (LAMC) committee, which is bi-partisan, was in the direct line of fire recently with the auditor's again scathing review of the legislature finances. Seems our own government can't do basic accounting and the LAMC has been sitting around doing... ummm... doing... well to be honest, it seems like they haven't been doing anything.
Yes, NDP and Liberal members are on that committee and while we absolutely expect, yes expect, secrecy from our soon-to-be dearly departing Liberals, we do not expect the NDP members to go along with it, which they did. The NDP can claim innocence all they want, but the truth is the two members on that committee said nothing about how stupid and secret the actions of this committee were until the report came out, then they feigned shock and embarrassment. Both parties were accountable to the public.
So where am I going with all this?
We are, for so many reasons, at a very crucial juncture in the history and future of this province. Environmentally, financially, socially... so much of where we go and what we leave for our children and our grandchildren hinges on the next election. This is crux of the matter.
This is why, examining every party, every candidate, every leader is crucial. This is why, more now than ever, we must ask the questions especially when we hear promises because we know what happens when we don't. I don't care if it's NDP Leader Adrian Dix making promises, or Conservative Leader John Cummins, or B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark. I wouldn't feel like I was doing right by each of you if I didn't examine, poke, prod and question.
SPLITTING THE VOTE?
I know there are concerns out there about splitting the vote. The Liberals are hoping for it. However I don't see that happening. There isn't a Liberal in the house that doesn't hold culpability for the mess we are in, not one. Each stood by and let it happen with silence and acquiescence.
But does that mean we should give a hall pass to the NDP? No, of course not, because there have been numerous times they have failed in Opposition. I've come under criticism recently for questioning Dix's announcement to hold his own review of Enbridge. Friends and readers suggested I should do other stories. However, one reader on my site recently mentioned a few items in her very pointed comment that highlighted why I am justified in doing so, and why I must continue to hold all politicians feet to the fire.
The NDP, champions of the Agricultural Land Reserve , suspended one of their own for standing against the removal of massive tracts of some of the best farmland in B.C. for the Tsawwassen treaty. All of it to be paved for container ship storage, industrial expansion by the port and now a mega-mall shopping tourist destination.
The NDP are full steam ahead for fracking expansion, conditional upon a review of course, but even with this being said, for the life of me, I can't get John Horgan's statements out of my head for the lack of knowledge it exhibited with how much the province is actually monitoring and tracking water usage and licenses. And funny enough, a few days later this bit of backtrack appeared in the Sun.
This week's story in the Sun makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Combined with posts I have done in the past on the ongoing failures of the government to do any monitoring, followup or checking on many contentious projects is why I think moving ahead quickly and blindly is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
It takes us back to the mess we are in already. We can't afford to screw it up again.
Now, before someone jumps on me and tells me I don't get that we need jobs, I do get that. I was born and raised outside of Prince George and 'get that' more than many people down here on the coast.
I know a lot of families where dad has gone to Alberta to work in the oilfields, or up north on a rig, coming home every few weeks. I know people who've lost their homes, because of the dying forestry industry. My dad works in a pulp mill, my brother and uncles in sawmills. I get how damn hard it is risking your life every day so you can pay your bills and feed your kids. I grew up with this, and I grew up in one of the most beautiful areas of B.C. where now vast tracts of forest are gone, naked, not replanted. Where people hate the carbon tax because there is no decent transit and you have to drive, most likely a truck to get around in and haul your stuff. Where people feel that internal fight all the time between jobs and saving what is around them.
Not talking about realities isn't going to help any of them, or any of us.
I don't have all the solutions, nor do I have all the answers. But I do know that we need to balance our economic path with our environmental future, without a doubt.
It's not going to be an easy job for whoever takes the reins in the next election. We can't give a free pass to the NDP, or the Conservatives, or even the Greens. We can't hold any of them any less accountable than we have the Liberals. Doing so will perpetuate the problems we face, not solve them, and that's why we do need to ask questions, we do need to talk and we need to inform ourselves -- and those around us -- like our lives depend on it.
Because in fact, they all do.