“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” ~ Ernest Benn

“We aren’t going to be talking about trying to reduce it by a point or two before the referendum. I mean, I think people will see that as buying them with their own money.”

~ Unelected Premier Christy Christy Clark, March 21st interview with Harjinder Thind, speaking about the HST.

“Oh damn, I forgot I said that. “

Our form of democracy is bribery, on the highest scale.

~ Gore Vidal.

I thought that I had seen it all when I worked in the world of high balance, corporate credit. While one often hears of the lengths and means corporations will go to get ahead or one up the competition, dealing with the results firsthand when it is all goes down is another matter altogether, and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Six figure accounts, contract law and supreme court actions meant my ability and reputation were crucial to a client about to step into the courtroom, and I rarely failed to deliver with hard copy proof of bank accounts,contracts, locations of goods – whatever was needed to make sure the client won their case.

To say that experience prepared me well for writing about government business is an understatement. And while I thought I had seen it all in the private sector, the provincial political scene has yet to fail for amusing and surprising me at how similar the tactics are to those used in competitive corporate world. 

The only difference between the two is that being a public servant or politician means you have to be all that much better at covering your tracks, since your career and a government pension is at stake -a loss of public trust appears to be inconsequential to most.

The irony is not lost on me, that while not everyone can run a corporation or mid-level business – under-performance quickly reveals inadequate skills or expertise for all to see – any Jack or Jill off the street can become an elected politician and run an entire province without any skills to back such a position up. The gift of gab is king in this domain, where public perception unfortunately is often falsely based on nice packaging,smooth advertising and sadly, little substance.

Unelected premier Christy Clark is the case in point. Not only is her skill set for running a province highly questionable -based on executive comparisons for private sector positions, I’d say she is unqualified to run this province – but her past performance in government is  also tainted with poor choices that have led to long-lasting negative impacts on the provinces most vulnerable populations.

 She quit university and did not graduate with a degree in anything. She went into politics with no business or other experience from the outside at all. When she quit politics,she worked for her ex-husband  shortly before moving into the role of talk show host at CKNW. And whether you agree or not, my opinion is that electing someone to run the province who has no  real business experience and must rely heavily on corporate advisors (who I assert are in a highly conflicting position because of their government contracts and relationships) is a recipe for disaster.

 Notwithstanding the questions that still remain surrounding her actions during the  offloading of BC Rail, her real record as minister of education and minister of children and families does not substantiate her families first platform, and her move to pursue the Taseko mine proposal betrays her true environmental lean.

As much of a joke that this new, improved HST proposal is, what it highlights is how little Christy Clark understands the concept behind her Families First platform, and how stupid she thinks the people of BC really are.

While Clark emphasizes that the corporate tax rate will be raised, she fails to mention a critical fact. When we had the GST/PST, businesses could only apply to get the 5% GST back on business expenses. However, now that we have the HST, businesses can apply to get the entire 12% back when they file their HST forms…. but we can’t.

We are stuck with it. Hence the aggressive lobbying from certain big business groups and corporations who stand to benefit from this extra percentage of tax back on expenses.

Families First? I think not. When Christy Clark won the Liberal leadership on February 26th, 2011, she said: ” Change begins tonight.” 

Unfortunately for the BC Liberals, and for the rest of BC, none of those changes matter. Clark is simply more of the same BC liberal games wrapped up in a new package.

And we don’t like what we see once the shiny wrapping is removed.

 

( With the HST referendum coming, I invite all readers to refresh their memories by visiting another blog Norman Farrell and I have authored, Honestly Shared Taxation. )

19 thoughts on ““Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” ~ Ernest Benn

  1. Lynn

    Has anyone watched the movie, Casino Jack?
    Based on a true story of a Washington DC lobbiest.
    It is a must see.
    Politicians don’t need brains cause they have lobbiests with deep pockets.

    Like

    1. Laila

      Great movie and oh so appropriate comment Lynn, in particular with regards to Clark, who has a habit of surrounding herself with lobbyists, whether by family or business…

      Doug, what more can I add to that? hmmm. Nothing. You summed it up well.

      Like

  2. John's Aghast

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times. The HST waffle is small potatoes. Half the province (sorry, no scientific back-up) realizes taxes are a way of life, and while they don’t like the way it was imposed, will probably vote for the retention of the HST.
    The BC Rail fiasco was, on the other hand, a direct hit to jurisprudence – a travesty and a VERY questionable manipulation by the Lieberals, and, as Tsukumas has shown, something that CC was very involved with. Whether she should go to jail, or just her manipulators, is debatable.
    At the risk of repeating myself, the only way to get to the bottom of this stench, which stains the political climate of not only BC, but the rest of Canada, is to vote ABC in the next election. Until we get to the bottom of this we will never know if Quebec politics are more corrupt than BC’s, or not.

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    1. Laila

      John,from what I have seen, and heard and read, BC politics are just as corrupt as Quebec’s, however we still have not become used to the idea of such blatant corruption, so that it seems less so to civilians. There are business cartels here as well, and in certain industries businesses have divided up the areas for bidding. Bid on another man’s job and you better be ready for the flashback.

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  3. Lynn

    Divided up areas? Sounds like a Mafia way of doing business to me.Did they still that idea from the Godfather?
    “Say ‘ello to ma lille frien”.
    -a quote from Tony M

    Like

  4. ron wilton

    I doubt CC had any choice in the presence of Gwyn Morgan.

    As non executive CEO of SNC Lavalin (not to mention Encana), they have a large financial stake in keeping the BC Lieberals in power.

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  5. John's Aghast

    Ron: You bet they do, and that’s what scares me! Christy’s as likely to end up with a horse’s head in her bed as not. She is not the root of this evil deed – merely an (unproven) accomplice. Barring a complete public inquiry into this issue the real perpetrators will get away with it. Not only that, they will repeat it with BC Hydro.

    People, get off your collective bottoms and work to ensure the party of your choice (ABC) get elected next time. MAYBE then we will get some closure. Lets leave something of value to our grandchildren.

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  6. Julie

    Harper had actually left the back door open, for the expansion of Prosperity mine, it could be reapplied for. Christy is not the angel, that is fighting to give the BC people jobs. Been there and done that, that was already in the bag.

    I am certain, i read sometime back, that BC did finally beat Quebec out, as the most corrupt province in Canada. BC has vast amounts of resources, so corruption has mushroomed, especially because of Campbell and Harper. All the giant corporations, want to thieve as much as possible from BC’s wealth of resources. Campbell made sure, he got more than his share. Campbell’s theft and sale of the BCR, and the real estate that went with the BCR, was worth a fortune.

    Now that Harper has forced the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers on the BC province and the people. There are still a lot more up for grabs. Harper and Campbell, also have worked on, drilling oil and gas wells, off the coast of BC. This provinces valuable resources, belong to the people. Out of all the BC wealth being stolen, the people have not benefited, one iota.

    Canada has become a vast cesspool of corruption. With Harper at the helm, watch BC become a wasteland, thieved right down to the bare bones.

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  7. Crankypants

    I agree and disagree with your perceptions.

    Christy Clark is not Premier material for nothing more than she is an airhead. She is a Prima Donna who only relishes one thing which is her name in lights. Unfortunately, that makes her the perfect puppet. Lobbyists and power brokers will have a field day with her at the helm, and she will no doubt display her shortcomings when she is finally allowed to attend the Legislature as a participant instead of a spectator.

    What I don’t agree with is the fact that our Premier, or Prime Minister for that matter, must have real business experience. As a matter of fact, I believe that those that are so entrenched with the business world lack all semblance of humanity. All their thought processes are broken down to the bottom line.

    Governance is not a business. It is a means of forging a better and productive life for its constituents. Balance sheets and legal manoeuvering do neither. I am of the opinion that our leader must have the ability to use logic. Ultimately we must all employ logic to determine how we live, and our governance is no different. No matter who is in charge, they have access to both legal minds and financial minds to help them with the fine print of any paths they wish to pursue, but to limit a leader to have business experience as a prerequisite to their qualifications is ludicrous. Someone schooled in nothing more than the lessons of life may well prove to be the best leader ever. Unfortunately, we will never know, as our system seems to favour those that have connections rather than cogent ideas.

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  8. Jim

    You said unelected premier, is that because the official count of the by-election isn’t out yet?

    I think voting ABC will be dangerous. The fact is if you don’t want the BC “Liberals” to win, you need to vote BC NDP. Just look at the by-election results.. Had the BC First and Green voters voted Eby (a choice much better for the environment then Clark), Eby would have taken more votes then Clark. It would have been a better message from the Green point of view then voting Green. Split voting screwed us federally and it will do so provincially as well.

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    1. Laila

      Jim, I say unelected because although she won the by-election, she has not gone through a general election and been placed in that position through the will of the voters. And yes, split voting could definately place the Liberals in a leadership position provincially as well.

      Crankypants, I definately see your point, and while I understand what you are saying, I still believe having some real experience in business is a definate plus for those positions. Those who do not must indeed, rely heavily on the recommendations of others and may find themselves unable to question or contradict such advice when and if that is needed. See my point? Kind of akin to a person relying on his accountant, but having no clue if what the accountant is telling him is good advice or bad. Having worked in the corporate world myself, while there are many heartless business men and women out there, there is an equal number of corporate execs who are very much like myself, and conduct business in a way that reconciles the bottom line and profit, with human success on all levels.

      Governance is also a business, since if the government is not conducting it’s business in a manner which provides enough funds for keystones of community- health care, education are the two most important in my opinion -then the people suffer. There is no way around that and so the best manner of governance meshes the needs and goals of those it is charged with governing, with the successful business operation of the province to ensure those needs and goals are met. I did not say it was the only requirement, I did say it is very important in my opinion for a position such as premier.

      Erik -a must read comment. In the case of Macquarie, offshore is a big part of their game.

      Like

  9. motorcycleguy

    “conduct business in a way that reconciles the bottom line and profit, with human success on all levels”

    With your permission I would like to repeat that line every once in a while. Balance is a very big word….it appears very hard to spell for a lot of people in positions of power (elected or otherwise).

    Like

    1. Laila

      Of course, repeat as needed! I know it can be done and there are fine examples all over, if one chooses to look. I think we have become a province of division in political mindsets- you are either designated a corporatist or a socialist. But the two can be married if the effort is made and it should be. Good social programs and intiatives do cost money, that money has to come from somewhere, right? Where the Liberals fail, is in missing the humanist portion of the equation.

      Like

  10. cleptocracy – are we there yet?

    informal – a government where officials are politically corrupt and financially self-interested

    [C20: from klepto ( mania ) + -cracy ]

    A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.

    Like

  11. Jean

    Hi Laila,

    If I may….

    TOWN HALL MEETING RE HST with Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney

    Thursday, June 2
    7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

    At: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
    12666 – 72 Avenue, Surrey, B.C.

    Laila, could you please post this at Grant’s site and any other ones you feel relevant. That Google Blogger gang won’t let me sign in to Grant’s, just tells me once my password is invalid (BS) and keeps coming back to Google Blogger instead of letting me post it at his site.

    Thanks, Jean
    Hope to see you there too, it’s time we met!

    Like

  12. Laila, though I somewhat agree with your point about understanding business, I tend to agree with Cranky a bit more regarding who should be running government. In spite of the need for government to manage the economy and its revenue to provide services, GOVERNMENT IS NOT BUSINESS. Government is the means to people living together and dealing with the shared interests of ALL.

    Government looks after things like justice, law enforcement, basic shared infrastructure, in other words the things that don’t naturally lend themselves to business opportunities RIPE for EXPLOITATION or PROFIT. W.A.C. Bennett for all his rhetoric about the socialists at the gate realized that British Columbians weren’t being served by private ferry systems, private power utilities and private railways and spent twenty years being the most socialistic governor/premier in North America. Of course in just a decade the evil and greedy forces of the Campbell/Clark Crime Family have managed to undo almost all that Wacky created, yet probably would have the nerve to point to him as the icon he truly is and identify his legacy of construction with theirs of devastation.

    A business person can succeed and prosper by making widgets that people have a need for and will purchase at a price that covers their production with room for profit. However, only dickTaters like Ghadaffi (and the excessively rich) have private police. The invisible hand of the free market will not automatically provide many things efficiently, things like health care, highways, justice systems or good education. Those who promote such ideas are just POOR businessmen trying to get a monopoly and turn a profit at taxpayer’s expense on an otherwise unprofitable enterprise – because everything in the world, despite what accountants say, or the Chicago (or Calgary) School of Economics might promulgate to assist in feathering the nests of their own adherents and supporters.

    I went back to post secondary school a few years back as an extremely mature student primarily to learn about programming and other IT issues that had developed since my last time at university during which time I had been busy devastating forests and building homes. Since the computer program I was taking had grown up in the business side of the school I was attending, it still had a certain amount of “business” oriented courses required, most often taught by accountants and/or economists. They continually returned to the basic idea of “exploitation” of opportunities and I just as regularly would point out to my esteemed instructors that I grew up in an environment where the very notion of “exploitation” carried a negative connotation.

    One ironic result of this was during what should have been my last semester, I dropped a business course because a new instructor had appeared in the programming department and I didn’t want to waste time with the business course when I could pick this new instructor’s brain and benefit from his wisdom, especially with non-windows (i.e. Linux and BSD) systems and scripting. Anyway, I did a presentation in the business course just before dropping it (and picking it up to complete the following semester) and chose to do it on the, at the time, ongoing rolling power outages etc. in California. The next time around, when I returned to the course to complete my program, when the same assignment came around I just picked up where I had left off, with all the new information that explained the previously unexplainable about the situation, namely the Enron meltdown and the various execs that were by this time facing trial. First time around what was going on, the scams and cheating, weren’t apparent, but the second time it was crystal clear.

    BTW, I still think Kenny Boy Lay is enjoying pina coladas on some beach that is a much more pleasant place to hang out than Texas. His (supposed) body was cremated before any autopsy was performed and let’s face it, it isn’t difficult to find a corpse to burn in Texas.

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  13. larben

    Well I guess I will have to vote for John Cummins after all, as neither you or Tsakumis seem to like the prospect, and given that the rest of what’s left (or Left) just won’t do. Not sure how he would govern, but am pretty sure he won’t be quoting either Eleanor Roosevelt or Gore Vida! Perhaps Margaret Thatcher or William F. Buckley Jr.; both are very quotable you know?

    Like

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