The 2015 political donations were out this week and they contained some numbers that should cause a bit of unease. It's not just the 2015 amounts that are of interest, it's the running totals as well. Since 2005, the B.C. Liberal party has raised more than $107.8 million -- $70.2 million of that from businesses and corporations.
When most communities in B.C. have more in-camera meetings than the City of Toronto, there's a problem. In Ontario, councils are entitled to go in-camera to consider six specific matters. There are four reasons that councils must go in camera and over a dozen reasons why they "may" close a meeting. The nuance between "may" and "must" seems to have been lost on a few.
Just thumb through the party's 2009 donor list for a sense of how widespread the practice of awarding contracts to friends has become. Back then, someone must have woke up on New Year's Day with one hell of a hangover -- not from the night before -- but from the bank balance in the B.C. Liberal party's account.
Buried among a spate of bad news announcements that the B.C. government released over the Christmas holidays was an update on a province-wide system for peer reviews of medical scans. The system was to have been operational by 2014, but still isn't in place at three of five health authorities and won't be until mid-2016 at the earliest.
The bipartisan legislative committee was asked by Finance Minister Michael de Jong to travel the province and make recommendations for the 2016-17 B.C. budget. Unfortunately, the committee fell into the usual trap of recommending billions in new spending requests put in by dozens of special interest groups.
For those not counting, there have been eight B.C. trade missions to China alone in the last 18 months. Forests minister Steve Thomson is set to leave on a ninth mission this Friday. Trade missions aren't cheap, they set the B.C. government back $767,000 in 2014 and that doesn't include the bill for local governments, universities and other agencies.
You would think Ben Franklin was working in public procurement when he coined the phrase "take time for all things: great haste makes great waste." It's one possible explanation for why the Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 improvement project more than doubled in price from its original estimate of $1.5 billion to $3.2 billion.
What long-term health benefits would occur if government built $7.5 million in school playgrounds? Or spent $7.5 million cutting waitlists for surgery? Or made sure people had timely access to family physicians? Or improved rural or aboriginal drinking water quality to reduce the dozens of boil water advisories in effect across B.C. right now? Or any of a hundred other ideas.
To put it in a local context: the B.C. government is providing unprecedented tax breaks to what is effectively a foreign Crown corporation, where the prime minister is suspected of siphoning off US$700 million from one of its other Crown corporations to his personal bank accounts. Doesn't inspire confidence.