The carbon tax lobby was practically giddy this month, as newspaper headlines touting a B.C. climate change agreement with three U.S. states blared, "Washington and Oregon follow B.C.'s lead on carbon tax system," and "Washington, Oregon plan to emulate B.C.'s carbon tax." Fortunately for American taxpayers, the headlines just aren't true.
If TransLink is as broke as it claims to be, why are taxpayers so grossly overpaying its chief executive officer? Ian Jarvis received $394,730 in salary, incentives and taxable benefits in 2012, plus another $32,552 in taxpayer-funded petition contributions. On top of that, Jarvis took $11,418 in "other" benefits, including a "Wellness Allowance" that apparently only the CEO is eligible for. That's a total compensation package of $438,700. Jarvis made $140,000 more last year than the province's deputy transportation minister, Grant Main. He made $200,000 more than Premier Christy Clark. Clark wasn't alone; Jarvis out earned Prime Minister Stephen Harper by nearly $75,000.
The expanded pipeline will mean more oil tankers than ever in Vancouver's harbor area and it is a ridiculously short-sighted idea. The math is simple: the more tankers, the more risk of spills and a spill in Vancouver's Burrard inlet, or anywhere on our coast for that matter, puts at jeopardy our thriving multi-billion dollar tourism industry and other coastal economies. Imagine the Seawall around Stanley Park lapping in oil. We would likely have to get rid of the "Beautiful BC" on our license plates.
Whether BC Liberal or NDP, governments have grown reliant on the cash flowing from ICBC and BC Hydro ratepayers. Any suggestion of reduction is met with ministerial shrugs and the talking point: "How would we fund health and other services without that money? Should we raise taxes?" Yet, the ignored solution can be found in another cliché: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Dear Premier Clark: I applaud the fact that your government has been consistent in requiring five conditions to be met before you will support enhanced heavy oil tanker traffic off our coast. Consistency is important in providing certainty to the public, business and investors alike. It is for this reason that I am writing to you to seek some further clarification on the second and third of your five conditions.
There has never been an independent analysis of InSite, yet, if you base your knowledge on Vancouver media reports, the case is closed. InSite is a success and should be copied nationwide for the benefit of humanity. Tangential links to declining overdose rates are swallowed whole. Thomas Kerr's claims of reduced "public disorder" in the neighbourhood go unchallenged, despite other mitigating factors such as police activity and community initiative. Journalists note Onsite, the so-called "treatment program" above the injection site, ignoring Onsite's reputation among neighbourhood residents as a spit-shined flophouse of momentary sobriety.
Christy Clark has weighed into Quebec's not-yet-debated, not-yet-modified, not-yet-voted, not-yet-implemented or enforced charter. B.C. has come a long way from the 1907 race riots. Many are proud of B.C.'s rich diversity, but there is still work to do. There have been sporadic deplorable acts of intolerance in B.C. during the Premier's tenure. Curiously, she wasn't compelled to comment on issues occurring in her own province: Indigenous slurs, neo-Nazi enclaves, racial profiling...
British Columbia currently faces a perfect storm of fossil fuel extraction and export projects colliding with the realities of a changing climate and rising inequality. Recent years have also been a time that has seen the emergence of mass social movements that are re-defining societies and challenging some of the most entrenched powers on our planet. From the Arab Spring to Idle No More, we are witnessing the rebirth of people power. Here in B.C., whispers of change have grown into a steady hum of organizing and mobilization as communities have come together to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, but now we are in need of growing this movement like never before. Here's why.
When was the last time you called in sick? Was it just a case of the sniffles? Were you flat on your back? Or did you go golfing and not want to use a vacation day? Did you feel guilty about leaving your co-workers to cover for you? Did you take as few days as possible, knowing someone else had to pick up the slack in your absence? Chances are if you work in the private sector, your answers are very different from those of some government employees.
B.C. has seen umpteen reviews of various government agencies and files. BC Hydro, ICBC, BC Ferries and TransLink have all been reviewed within the past two years. Reviews have been promised for the B.C. Lottery Corporation, B.C. Housing, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, B.C. Transit, and the Liquor Distribution Board. Pre-election, the NDP generated a list of 35 reviews had been promised by the government. One hesitates to remind government of these promised reviews, lest a review into the missing reviews also be promised.
It's bad enough that many municipalities are hiking property taxes this year, but the provincial government's decision to kill a light industry tax credit is piling on B.C.'s job creators -- and highlighting why such tax credits are bad policy in the first place.
Think of it as an electoral echo. While many British Columbians are just getting over the election hangover from May's blockbuster BC Liberal comeback win, 13 municipalities are about to head into by-election mode. Four mayors and 10 councillors from 13 different communities were elected May 14th. A dozen BC Liberals, two New Democrats: all will need to be replaced in the coming weeks, triggering a series of expensive by-elections.
Here Warren Kinsella's oft-repeated maxim rings true. In Kinsella's latest book he states that what is true of car crashes is true of political life. When polled, voters will insist they hate negative ads. But when they thinking no one is looking they will slow down, take a look, and remember what they see.
in Canada's Equalization program, "have" provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan send billions of dollars to Ottawa that are in turn handed to chronic overspending "have-nots" like Quebec. It creates a system where the reward for prudent fiscal management is bailing out those who couldn't care less. In other words, we in B.C. pay so they can play.
According to an Ipsos Reid exit poll poll of 1,400 British Columbians, the top issue influencing voters was open and honest government. On this issue voters chose the BC NDP by a 10 per cent margin (47 to 37 per cent).The fourth issue was trust in a particular leader or party. The Liberals lost those voters by five per cent. It's easy for political operatives to sweep such inconvenient truths under the rug when they've just pulled-off a miracle, but Liberals do need to take note: they've lost the trust of a significant block of voters.
British Columbians would not take kindly to an Alberta pro-tar sands Prime Minister ramrodding through a decision to approve the Northern Gateway Pipeline in the face of opposition from so many different constituencies. In my personal opinion, it would be political suicide.