THE CANADIAN PRESS
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There's no shortage of problems for a public consultation on electoral issues to consider.
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Athletes seek it, why wouldn't politicians try and do the same?
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It was a pretty safe bet going into election night that regardless of how the vote broke that there were four words from Premier Christy Clark's 2013 victory speech which would be left unsaid this year: "Well, that was easy."
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Earlier this month the 2016 donation numbers for B.C.'s political parties were filed with Elections B.C. and, not unexpectedly, it was another bumper crop for the B.C. Liberals. The party raised $13.1 million, more than any other provincial party in Canada and $4.8 million more than the federal NDP and Green Party combined.
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It's the missed opportunities over the 2012 health ministry firings that will forever haunt the B.C. government. Instead of seizing opportunities to set the record straight, Ombudsperson Jay Chalke's report pointed to a pattern of falsehood piled upon falsehood.
B.C. politics already has its dark money donations that are difficult to trace back to an actual donor. But the free for all when it comes to political fundraising in the province has given rise to another murky practice: raising campaign cash from some dark corners of the world.
Using the B.C. government's proposed real-time disclosure of political donations bill as a prop, Clark announced that if re-elected her government will move to establish an independent panel to review B.C.'s Elections Act and come up with recommendations for the legislature's consideration.
This past weekend the Globe and Mail reported that lobbyists in the province have been making political donations on behalf of their clients, effectively camouflaging the identity of the real donors and breaking B.C.'s Elections Act in the process.
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."
Splat. It would seem British Columbia's 41st general election is well underway. News that someone may have hacked the B.C. Liberal party's website caused quite the uproar. Charges, counter-charges, flurries of tweets, threats of lawsuits, privacy investigations, possible police investigations, it had it all.
Mere hours before the New York Times went to press with its look at the B.C. Liberal party's ethical scorecard, the party chose to get its 2016 fundraising results out ahead of the storm. One last chance at political counter-spin and what a marvel of spin it was. U.S. Republican party strategist Karl Rove would have been proud.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has embarked on a cross-Canada tour, ostensibly to reconnect with Canadians -- or at least those that can't afford $1,525 to bend his ear in private. At three times his going rate, the prime minister would still be a bargain compared to Christy Clark.
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Premier Christy Clark has already taken off the table the one thing that leaves Canada's three other public auto insurers in decent financial shape: no-fault insurance. Makes one wonder who is so strongly opposed to the idea? Likely, a group that does well with the current regime. Lawyers spring to mind.
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The year is almost a wrap and - safe to say - 2016 was one for the books. In keeping with the spirit of the season, it's time again for a few New Year's resolutions for B.C.'s political parties and politicians to consider in their on-going quest for self-improvement.
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It's official. After hitting send to more than 2,680 news releases this year, the B.C. government's Communications and Public Engagement Office is now scraping the bottom of the barrel for an excuse -- any excuse -- to trumpet the government's prowess.
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Hate to be one of those folk that B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman believes has nothing better to do than get up and whine every day, but the B.C. government's affordable housing plan announced last week falls short. Sorry, someone had to say it.
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If winning cases before the Supreme Court of Canada could be likened to the National Hockey League, the B.C. government would be the Toronto Maple Leafs of litigants. Perhaps the government is getting bad legal advice? Perhaps it's not listening to good legal advice?
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Just how far is the B.C. government willing to go to guard its secrets? A great distance, if the 2012 health ministry firings are any indication. Four million documents linked to the firings have mysteriously materialized out of thin air for the latest investigation into the scandal, this one by B.C. ombudsperson Jay Chalke.
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News that's guaranteed to cheer the hearts of a small number of B.C. companies is word that they've been added to a list of pre-qualified suppliers to the B.C. government. The lists are intended to offer all the appearances of open and transparent procurement. They can be anything but.
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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.
One would be hard-pressed to find a single government forecast for the Sea-to-Sky highway project ($195 million over its first estimate), the Port Mann or the South Fraser Perimeter Road that has been met.
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How did B.C. end up in the peculiar situation of having to rely on the private sector to oversee private sector construction companies working on public sector infrastructure projects, potentially signing off on billions of tax dollars in cost overruns along the way?
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According to the Canadian Payroll Association's survey of employed Canadians released in advance of this week's festivities, 53 per cent of British Columbians reported that "it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay cheque was delayed by even a single week."
ICBC applying for basic rate increase of 4.9 per cent. According to its release, the number of crashes across B.C. "jumped by 15 per cent in two years from 260,000 in 2013 to 300,000 in 2015." Why 2013 and not some other year, say 2007? The numbers wouldn't fit the narrative.
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In April, the Alaska Highway News filed an access to information request for a list of the direct award contracts signed during the first stages of the Site C dam construction. The contracts ranged in value from $30,373 to $900,000, but that's only for the awards the utility disclosed.
For months the government had been in denial over the issue: overblown, isolated to a few neighbourhoods, it said. Since then its approach has gone from "the market will correct itself," to a "bold action plan," to legislating a retroactive 15 per cent tax on foreign ownership.
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In a $46.3-billion budget, $49.8 million is chump change, but the B.C. government's 84,346 credit card charges in 2015-16 do offer some insights into how the B.C. government spends on the run. While the number of charges is down from 102,418 in 2014-15, the dollar value is up from $45.1 million.
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B.C. may still see an LNG plant, but as for that $1 trillion in economic activity and $100 billion prosperity fund the only step left is to call time of death. There's an upside for the government. The public never bought the hype in the first place.
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Another vacancy in a public boardroom and another B.C. Liberal party supporter ready and willing to fill it. News that Frank Carson -- a partner at Victoria law firm Cox, Taylor -- was appointed chair of B.C. Transit's board of directors last week was met with the expected cynicism.
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With news last week that all but one of Metro Vancouver's mayors have given a firm thumbs down to the B.C. government's proposal for a 10-lane, three-kilometre bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel, it's a good opportunity to take a step back and give this idea more than a quick once-over.
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The B.C. government has placed two bets over the Site C project: one that B.C. Hydro can keep construction costs to $8.8 billion, and, two, that it can find customers for the power. Left to cover the ante? Taxpayers.
With so much of the attention focused on Victoria's tent city and Vancouver's skyrocketing home prices in the housing debate, one group is left hollering, "Hey, what about us?" That group is all of the Province's renters, and it's a group worth listening to.