Christy Clark is no stranger to controversy, in fact some would argue she feeds off of it much like a schoolyard bully relishing in the fear and negative attention.
Lately it seems every time she opens her mouth (or sends a tweet) something obscenely insensitive and rude spills out. At this point, I think most of us are watching just to see what she will say next.
You think she would have learned something from the Yoga on the Bridge fiasco, but you would be wrong. She continues on blissfully unaware and still slightly confused about why everyone got so upset about the whole thing. Further proof of how out-of-touch she is with the very citizens she's in charge of representing.
So in Christy's honour I present a look back at what I feel are the nine biggest controversies and scandals during Clark's (and the Liberals') reign of terror in B.C.
I'm still confused at how no one in her close circle of advisors could see the impending backlash that would follow this brain-dead idea.
We live in B.C. there is an endless supply of beautiful parks, beaches and other areas that would have been a thousand times better then shutting down a major bridge on a Sunday, at a cost of $150,000 to taxpayers.
Perhaps the biggest slap in the face was the fact this was to take place on National Aboriginal Day which really should have taken centre stage over some downward dog poses. Instead of taking the backlash with any class or dignity Clark choose to then jump on Twitter to post a picture calling out "yoga haters," followed by an announcement that she wouldn't be attending because yoga shouldn't be "political," then corporate sponsors dropped out and then the whole thing was finally cancelled.
8. B.C. taxpayers lose $43 million in land deal
Recently released documents show that Clark's government sold off 150 hectares of land in Port Coquitlam for $43 million BELOW the appraised value, all in the effort to make a quick buck to produce her "balanced budget" for the 2013/2014 fiscal year.
One lot that was appraised at $5.6 million sold for just $100,000. Worse still is the fact they sold this discounted land to a Liberal party donor. Favoritism anyone?
At a time when many people are facing the harsh reality that they might never be able to own their own home in the Lower Mainland due to high real estate prices, our premier is basically giving land away to her wealthy buddies.
Add to this her comments just a few days ago about how if people are upset about the high cost of housing in Vancouver they should just move. Perhaps instead they could just sign up as Liberal party donors and get some discounted land too.
7. Child labour laws
In 2003, the Liberals had a great idea of lowering the legal working age to 12 years old. On May 9, 2013, First Call released an eye-opening report on B.C.'s child labour laws, showing staggering statistics such as:
- 43 per cent of youth workers have reported injuries on the job, including a 12 year old who sustained burns all down the front of his body from battery acid.
- A handful of children now on permanent disability
- WorkSafe paying out1.1 million in disability claims to children
- A high number of children dropping out of school due to work schedules.
Of course, Clark still stands behind the decision and says they are simply offering children "flexibility and choice." I guess when you "choose" to be born into poverty you can benefit from the "flexibility" of being able to work full time before you're even out of elementary school.
6. Christy's LNG fiasco
For as long as Christy as been premier, we have been exposed to a never ending stream of LNG ads, commercials and promises. She touts LNG as the end-all solution for our province wiping out debt, generating income and creating thousands of jobs.
We've also watched as this plan hit one brick wall after another. With pressure mounting to cut a deal, many fear she will soon be signing a deal with notorious Asian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto whose company is known worldwide for its mass destruction of rain forests in Indonesia, leading to a staggering decline in Sumatran tigers and the biggest tax evasion case in the country's history.
I know Christy is desperate to keep her LNG dream alive but do we really want to put someone in charge who not only shows no concern for the environment but also doesn't pay his taxes?
5. Christy's ethnic vote plan
In 2013, government documents were leaked regarding a plan to woo ethnic voters. Some of the strategies included apologizing to different ethnic groups for past wrongdoing, contributing more to ethnic news channels, and one direct quote stated "building political capital in ethnic communities by taking what will be perceived as thoughtful and caring actions."
There are two things that are very wrong about this. Firstly, building community, apologizing for wrongdoing, acknowledging and working with minorities and different cultures shouldn't be done just because you want votes. Then there was the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill as we were paying the salaries of the people who were working on it.
Clark's war on public education started when she stripped parts of teachers' contracts back when she was educational minister. Despite two courts finding those actions illegal, she continues to appeal, burning away taxpayer money to fund the whole fiasco, all because she feels teachers shouldn't have the right to bargain class size and composition in their contracts.
Clark also continues in Liberal footsteps by continuing to cut funding to public education while raising funding to private education. Across the province, boards are scrambling to balance their budgets cutting everything from teaching, library, vice principal and support positions to bus services, or what Mrs. Clark calls"low-hanging fruit."
3. Religious connections
"Separation of church and state" is a value long in place to keep our government and religion apart for good reason. Clark however doesn't seem to agree with this concept given her most recent spending spree of $1 million public tax dollars to her church . Seems like an odd choice, especially so soon after announcing cuts to education and other public services that would stand to benefit the majority of citizens in this province.
I'm not about to weigh in on my religion, or anyone else's for that matter; however when more then one out of three citizens state they "don't have a religion," I find it a huge conflict of interest to hand this much public money over to a church or any religion.
2. The Nestlé controversy
Earlier this year, it came to light that our government is going to "sell" Nestle B.C. water for a whopping $2.25 for a MILLION litres. Some areas in B.C. are already on water restrictions, but don't worry you can always stop by your local store and buy a bottle of Nestlé water because they don't face restrictions on how much water they can take, even during water shortages. Just ask California about that one.
Maybe we could actually charge this company to take our natural resources and generate revenue to put towards public services that our government tells us we "can't afford" to fund properly. Perhaps Christy thinks we should be happy about this deal, after all Nestlé, up until now, was getting the water for free.
Definitely one of the biggest scandals Clark and the Liberals have faced is the sudden and unjust firing of eight health ministry researchers with allegations of breach of privacy.
We were told for years that there was an investigation by the RCMP, which we all know now was a lie. The RCMP have never been provided the documents and paperwork to even start a probe. Everyone including the government's own top officials have been calling for a public inquiry, which Clark has refused so far.
One of the researchers tragically committed suicide under the pressure of it all, others have brought claims forward against the government. One of the most recent brings up the possibility the big pharmaceutical companies played a role in the firings. Also, it doesn't help that these big pharmaceutical companies happen to be Liberal party donors (are we starting to see a pattern here?)
If those nine weren't enough, here is a list of programs that have received cuts under the Liberal government: public education, health care, surgeries, domestic violence and outreach programs, income assistance programs, special needs assessments, family law services, legal aid, community outreach programs, diagnostic and rehabilitation services, parks budgets, environmental ministry, senior care and services, senior beds, mental health, addiction programs and services, student aid, PAC funding, annual facility grants to schools and programs for special needs.
If you can still think of a good reason to vote Liberal I'd love to hear it.
EARLIER ON HUFFPOST:
Leaked B.C. Liberal documents revealing a wide-ranging plan with links to senior officials in Premier Christy Clark's office to win ethnic votes in the upcoming May election are released by the B.C. NDP. Clark is seen here on a visit to India in 2011.
"No one has any dispute about the rich multicultural heritage in B.C. and the obligation of government to celebrate that and to build upon various communities in every corner of the province," said NDP House Leader John Horgan. "What we object to, and I think every British Columbian would object to, is their tax dollars being used to prop up the B.C. Liberal election machinery."
"I want to sincerely apologize to British Columbians," said a statement from Premier Christy Clark. "The document did not recognize there are lines that cannot be crossed in conducting this outreach and it is unacceptable."
The B.C. Liberal government promises a review into a plan to woo ethnic voters.
Kim Haakstad, the B.C. premier's deputy chief of staff, resigns. She sent a strategy document to several of the premier's staff that outlined a plan to woo ethnic voters.
"This proposed outreach plan was insulting to the intended targeted communities and was, when I found out about it, insulting to me and to all other MLAs who believe in doing things properly, fairly and within the rules and laws of the legislature," Liberal MLA Dave Hayer. "In all my 12 years as an MLA I have always reached out to all communities, regardless of ethnic background, because that is the right thing to do. I believe in doing the right thing, regardless of whether it will, or will not, 'win the vote' of any particular group."
"For the record, been given an early summary in 24 hrs, the terms of reference are out, a number of interviews needed. Plan progressing," said a tweet by deputy premier Rich Coleman. He added: "I am satisfied with the first steps to review what occurred here and fully support @christyclarkbc."
Bill Chu, chair of the Canadian Reconciliation Society, called the premier's apology "not acceptable." "In the leaked document, you can see the wording in it, how they want to manipulate our community — not just our community, but the entire multicultural community," Chu said. "It's full of disrespect."
Christy Clark calls an emergency meeting of her cabinet held on a rare weekend.
A calm, confident Christy Clark brushes aside questions about her leadership after a three-hour emergency cabinet meeting. "This group is absolutely united and we have a lot of work to do on behalf of the people of British Columbia" she said. "We're going to get on to that work."
"Christy Clark is our premier. She's going to be our leader," said Bill Bennett, minister of sport and culture after an emergency cabinet meeting. But he added: "We've made some mistakes. This last one was a doozy."
Liberal party member Virkram Bajwa said the leaked document has "made the ethnic vote a joke," and demanded the premier's resignation on behalf of a group of Indo-Canadian Liberal members. "In order for us to gain and come back to the government, she has to resign and somebody new has to come and lead the party into elections," he said.
"We shared some inner feelings," said Ben Stewart, minister of citizen services and open government after an emergency cabinet meeting. "There's certainly disappointment at so many people close to government involved in these activities."
"This was the first chance we had to talk about last week (with the premier)," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. "Everybody's very concerned about it, disturbed by it and wanted to move forward. We talked about that."
"We're all here to stick together and do our jobs," said Jobs Minister Pat Bell. "I'm as committed as I've ever been to Christy."
John Yap, the minister responsible for multiculturalism, steps aside during the review into the ethnic votes strategy. He said he's taking responsibility for the report's contents — but also said he had never seen the document, which was written several months before Yap joined cabinet.
Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, seen in this 2005 photo, says the ethnic vote-winning debate that has hammered British Columbia's Liberals and forced them to issue numerous apologies is nauseating, sanctimonious and holier-than-thou.
A report by deputy minister John Dyble into the ethnic outreach plan finds the B.C. Liberal government misused public money and breached standards of conduct.
Brian Bonney, a former Liberal government communications official, spent half his time working on the ethnic outreach plan for the Liberal party while being paid as a government employee, concluded a report. "This ... amounts to a serious breach of the standards of conduct," said the report by deputy minister John Dyble.
After John Dyble's report is released, Premier Christy Clark tells media that the B.C. Liberal Party has written a $70,000 cheque to the government to repay some of the work ex-communications official Brian Bonney did on government time.
Charges were approved under B.C.'s Election Act against Brian Bonney,a former Liberal government communications specialist, and Mark Robertson, a Liberal Party field operations worker, as well as a corporation over the April 2012 byelection in the provincial riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. A government review of the quick wins scandal found Bonney, who left government to work in the private sector, was at the heart of the plan to attract ethnic voters to the Liberals.
Follow Sarah Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/waitinginBC