If last year's provincial budget could be described as "petty" after Finance Minister Mike de Jong doled out an increase in assistance rates for those living with disabilities -- only to claw most of it back by ending the subsidized bus pass program -- this year's budget could best be described as "petulant."
The B.C. government is in the midst of saturating television shows and social media news feeds in the province with a multimillion-dollar back-patting advertising campaign in advance of the 2017 election. The B.C. Liberal party -- who clearly have money to burn -- is getting in on the act as well with mood-setting political ads.
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.
News that Premier Christy Clark has spent $500,000 on private jets since assuming office has -- not surprisingly -- raised a few eyebrows. It's a story that has as much to do with the symbolism as it does with the dollars. A political condition that the government seems increasingly tone deaf to as of late.
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.
Bill 2 represents a shameful betrayal of future generations. It dismantles key elements of former premier Gordon Campbell's continent-leading climate policies. And it replaces these policies with a made-in-Alberta, Harper government approach that will instead allow for a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions in B.C.
The B.C. Jobs Blueprint has a few worthy goals that, if achieved, will go a long way toward addressing both societal injustices and economic needs: a dramatic increase in young people entering the trades, training opportunities for aboriginal students, and support for education and training for people with disabilities. But where the plan falls apart is that it focuses on an industry that not only spews vast amounts of chemicals into our waterways but also speeds up global warming, the driver of climate change.
The Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals plan to significantly increase heavy oil tankers to Asia and both governments have promised "world-class" oil spill response on land and in the water. British Columbians are skeptical about this commitment. Stories like the sinking tug near Squamish are regularly in and out of the media reminding folks that nothing has been done. There is nothing "world-class" about the provincial-federal response to marine-based environmental concerns in the past.
These days Vancouver city hall is twisting itself into pretzels trying to figure out why citizens have stopped engaging with the political process. In my view, Philip Owen was the last mayor to really make a personal effort to get to know the city he led. He wasn't in a bubble created by political aides -- his staff was tiny in comparison to those in office today. Often regarded as a "mayor's mayor," he made himself available to citizens, media, and through a primetime cable TV call-in show.
I must confess to being entirely unsure what Gordon Wilson's endorsement of the Liberals actually does for leader Christy Clark or her party, who have been having the campaign of their dreams to this point. Seriously, with endorsements like Wilson's, who needs Dave Babych? There have been musings Wilson can help shore up centre-left votes. But that will be very hard to do while the party runs endless TV spots of Clark sounding like a fiscal hawk. Note to Clark and the BC Liberals: You don't need Gordon Wilson. You're doing just fine.