Recent news stories detailing the number of teachers needed to be re-hired as a result of the finding of the legislative stripping of teachers' collective agreements as unconstitutional, is a stark picture of the duplicity and obfuscation characterizing this government's attitude toward public education since 2002. Their latest court appeal is not unexpected or even disappointing. After enduring the last dozen years, teachers have come to expect punitive attacks and deceit.
Madame Justice Susan Griffin is known in the legal profession as a real straight shooter and one of B.C.'s most respected jurists, which makes the damning conclusions of her decision in the B.C. Teachers' Federation case all the more extraordinary. Judicial writing like this doesn't come along every day.
If the transit referendum was held at the same time as the municipal election, there is a real risk that people exercising their freedom of speech on one would be subject to severe penalties under the other. This is because the B.C. government has imposed draconian penalties (a year in jail, $10,000 fines) for those they define as "election advertising sponsors" in provincial election law.
Nearly 20 per cent of British Columbians live on the coast, generating over 35 per cent of the revenue to the provincial coffers. Yet when compared to the billions of dollars of investments the provincial government has made in the Lower Mainland alone in recent years, BC Ferries are woefully underfunded. As a consequence, people, businesses and economies that rely on the ferry service suffer.
In 1982, then Social Credit cabinet minister Grace McCarthy was suspected of using her influence to have her Little Mountain riding boundaries redrawn to include a sliver of a wealthy Vancouver neighbourhood. That sliver was forever known as Gracie's finger. Thirty-two years later, the B.C. government is proposing amendments that could make the controversy over Gracie's finger pale by comparison.
According to our monthly Business Barometer survey, B.C. small business confidence grew substantially this year. In February, B.C. ranked in sixth place among Canada's 10 provinces -- but by the end of November, we were sitting solidly in second place. With the New Year almost upon us, it is worthwhile to take a moment to reflect upon 2013's high and low points for small business.
No matter how well-intentioned the B.C. government's first round of electoral reforms may be, they are -- for the most part -- cosmetic in nature when contrasted against the public's very real loss of confidence in local democracy. Without meaningful electoral finance reform including election spending and contribution limits, candidacy for local government will -- by and large -- remain the purview of the affluent and well-connected.