For the last six weeks, deep in the B.C. legislature, eight MLAs have been toiling away at trying to set spending limits for municipal parties and their candidates in 2018, as well as third parties. It's been an oddly quiet discussion, given that their recommendations might restore a modicum of faith in local democracy. Might.
Saturday was a good day for local democracy in B.C. As one person noted online: "First time in my life I've had to wait to vote in a local election....What the hell is going on?" What was going on was that voters were coming out of the woodwork by the thousands in towns and cities across B.C. and it seems that those who skipped 2011 had one thing on their mind this time.
B.C. Premier Clark is being accompanied to India by the advanced education minister and 72 travelling companions from different economic sectors including education, LNG and the film industry. But there's also representation from the fashion industry, decorative stones, a port authority, a modelling agency, heavy equipment, a used car dealer, a travel firm and even a Tim Horton's franchisee. A handful of the companies don't have a website or a listed phone number anywhere in Canada.
Batten down the hatches, because this fall it's not just the threat of extreme weather British Columbians need to worry about; MLAs are returning to Victoria for a rare fall sitting of the legislature as well. And if the spring sitting was any indication, don't hold your breath hoping for much in the way of ministerial accountability.
It's that time of year again, when local governments across B.C. grit their teeth and post their annual statements of financial information for all and sundry. Depending upon your perspective, they're either a veritable treasure trove of news stories or a minefield of PR disasters waiting to happen.
Most of the billions spent on B.C. infrastructure projects in 2012 flew under the provincial radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Cost overruns rarely made a media ripple outside of the affected community. Yet, through various cost sharing formulas, we're all on the hook for them one way or another, whether it's the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion or new roads in Campbell River.
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.