What my readers like is important to me and many younger readers have been asking for a weekly round-up similar to the Bits and Bytes feature I used to run of days gone by. And so to answer the call I’m introducing the Friday Fail File- each week I’ll tally up the biggest fails in BC politics ( #bcpoli for those on twitter) and anything else I think merits the mention. ( I’m posting this late today, because I’ve got a full day Friday)
Without further delay, here are this weeks top 5 fails:
#5: ” The hidden private school tax haven for the rich” revealed by Sandy Garossino in the National Observer. Yes, you heard that right – Sandy has listed a rather boggling array of tax credits and financial yoga that parents with children enrolled in elite private schools can tap to make the financial pain of tuition, a thing of the past. Imagine this-recess and lunch are considered child care and qualifies you for a $3600 tax credit… and did you know that RBC can help you finance an entire private school education…tax free. Seriously? Here’s the deal- I have no issues with parents getting deductions…. but when private schools in BC are already receiving record levels of tax payers funding while others deal with chronic underfunding and lead in the water, it’s hard to swallow this.
Two thumbs up to Sandy Garossino and the National Observer for this, but a big fail to the BC government and the feds for these tax credits while schools receive taxpayer dollars for funding.
#4: Keith Baldreys twitter outburst over the National Observer tiny paywall. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I saw a tweet last night from Baldrey asking why any politician would pay attention to the National Observer – said tweet no longer exists and I didn’t screen shot it- followed by a two more openly mocking the alternative media source that has a growing audience. First he laughed heartily at the quality of the work ( shown above in #5 in stellar form)
This,is very unbecoming his position as a Legislative reporter in BC. No one makes him read the National Observer and since he has clearly has been, he should be prepared to pay like people have to pay to read him ! Diversity of media is a good thing, and Sandy Garossino, who penned the fabulous piece in #5, responded in a series of tweets that must be read,starting here: https://twitter.com/Garossino/status/746032397951500288
That’s why this week, Keith Baldrey makes the inaugural Friday Fail list. ( sorry Keith)
#3: CFAX host Ian Jessop is let go for … well… no one really knows.File this under things that make you go Hmmmm…. Why? Because Ian was a rare host who really held the provincial government to account on issues that were rarely touched on with other stations. From BC Hydro debt, to Site C, to the independent power projects costing the government millions to NOT produce power, Ian went where angels fear to tread. His untimely departure prior to another appearance by harsh Clark critic Martyn Brown has many asking whose toes he stepped on.
Epic fail CFAX and from the response on social media to his departure, I’m sure you’ll figure that out soon enough.
#2: BC Hydro breaks the law to get Site C past the point of no return: The way both the BC Government and BC Hydro have handled Site C has already shown there isn’t much they won’t do or ignore to push this project along. From DFO infractions first reported here, to air filters turned off, to removing the entire project from the oversight of the BC Utilities commission ( taxpayers only independent assurance the project is actually needed ), it’s been an example of how not to get things done.
But let’s not forget Clark vowed to get this project past the point of no return ( even if its a big expensive mistake) And how does one get a project past the point of return you ask? First, you get BC Hydro to force farmers and ranchers off their land by Christmas or face expropriation…. Second, you break the law and to hell with the legal requirement to wait for permits..
The chiefs of both Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations responded swiftly in shocked outrage: ”
“Forget environmental laws. Forget constitutional rights. Forget everything that holds our society together. That’s what BC Hydro is demanding we all do”, says Chief Willson. “What infuriates me”, Chief Willson went on to state, ” is that the Province has agreed to ignore the laws and instead protect the selfish interests of BC Hydro”.
“It’s a pattern”, Chief Tsakoza states. “It’s a pattern that began years ago with BC Hydro violating the law by destroying cultural artefacts simply to fast-track Site C. Every other company would face charges, but not BC Hydro. The Province refused to lay any charges. Now, and only because of their own poor planning, BC Hydro is refusing to wait for its permits and will break the law again. And the Province is right there letting it happen yet again”.
“BC Hydro has gone rogue”, says Chief Willson. “Worse yet”, he notes, “the Province is aware of the situation and chooses to look the other way. What’s the point of having a regulator if it refuses to regulate?” Additionally, Chief Tsakoza posits, “if the regulators were truly unbiased, then why is the Province afraid of having the British Columbia Utilities Commission involved. Is it because the Commission would actually protect ratepayers and not the self-interests of BC Hydro? I think so”.
Breaking the law to get to the point of no return, puts BC Hydro,Bill Bennett and Premier Clark at #2 on the Friday Fail list this week.
And after all of this, what could possibly merit the #1 position this week?
#1: The continuing debacle with disability bus passes. After months of people on disability protesting -often in the rain with their advocates-the government hauled out a press release announcing they had listened to stakeholders and where eliminating the annual $45 administration fee.
Sounds great, right? Such a generous move on behalf of government? Ahhh, but notsomuch. Readers who are actually on disability quickly responded to me on twitter stating this was more insulting than ever.
Before the ministry started meddling it was $45 for a one year bus pass. The ministry decided to make themselves look great by giving everyone on disability a $77 increase…but would also begin charging a new monthly fee for a pass of $52.00! So the big increase really wasn’t a big increase, and as of September people who have already paid for a pass for 2016, will have to fork over some more cash again.
Gee, thanks for the hand up BC! ( not). Fact is, what the province calls giving people options, relegates them to a life of third world choices. Heat or food. Transportation or housing. And for many on disability, that bus pass is about far more than getting from point A to point B- it’s a lifeline to independence, to friendships and social interactions that improve health outcomes.
So why can’t the ministry get it right? I really can’t say. But I can say Minister Stilwell gets the number one spot for this Fridays Fail list for failing to do the right thing,despite knowing full well the challenges many face. My advice,take away the monthly fee, and give a $77 dollar increase on top of the old annual fee so that people can actually eat more than twice a day. I’m pretty sure the minister does…
And just for laughs, the award for most epic parking fail this week goes to….well, just watch it for yourself. 😉