Laila Yuile on politics & life in B.C.

BC Election 2017: Promises, lies & integrity.Which will matter to BC Voters?

After a gorgeous weekend gardening with the Snowbirds and the CF-18 practicing overhead, the rain has returned and politics is once again on the agenda for both politicians and die-hard poli-watchers alike. While the official writ drop announcing the election just happened last week, the BC Liberals had already been campaigning for a month, courtesy of the non-stop ‘BC government’ funding announcements  that had even seasoned reporters shaking their heads.

On one day alone, 30 press releases were sent out, all announcing funding or grants of some kind. March saw double the announcements over February as the governing BC Liberals used government resources to unofficially campaign prior to the election.

Legal? Yes. Ethical? No. In fact the use of government resources and funding launched a legal action in an effort to recoup some of the $16 million dollars estimated to have been spent on partisan government ads that benefitted the BC Liberals right before an election. Even the provincial Auditor General agreed the ads were too political and partisan, but since we live in the Wild West where anything goes in politics, any action now is too little, too late.

Welcome to BC Election 2017, the magical land of promises, lies and feigned indignation. A land where the property transfer tax courtesy of last years insane real estate market quietly replaced the trillion dollar LNG prosperity fund  promised in 2013…that never happened. 

A land where governing BC Liberals carefully calculated how much and how long they could cut services or underfund programs before graciously announcing how happy they are to give what was taken back now… when they need your vote.

The land where once every 4 years your government suddenly cares about what your issues are… not because it’s the right thing to do,or good policy… but simply because they need your vote again. In fact, I recently tweeted that very sentiment, encouraging parties to up their game and try to actually EARN those votes instead of buying them or bullying them.

It’s all a bit much and very much a factor in the voter malaise that seems to be increasing instead of decreasing. Voters are bombarded with ads… even my children are complaining about the ads on video’s they watch on Youtube! Promises promises, jobs, economy, promise. To the average person, it can all seem very chaotic and with all parties making claims left right and centre, it’s hard for anyone to get to the heart of what the truth  really is without sitting down to do the research. And the Liberals know full well most people are too occupied with life to do that. So over the next few weeks I’ll be taking a look at all parties promises to see if they add up…or what they are leaving out.

Here is an example. BC Liberal candidates often make the claim the Clark government are excellent fiscal managers that have a balanced budget.

What they won’t talk about? That the reason the budgets have balanced is a combination of cuts to funding and services, combined with things like forcing BC Hydro to borrow millions of dollars in order to pay the government dividends from profits they don’t have. 

That’s correct. They have been taking from Peter to pay Paul, at taxpayers expense…and BC Hydro’s.

While the BC Liberals continue to make claims of being excellent economic stewards, no fiscal conservative can justify or defend how the action above has contributed to crippling BC Hydro debt that threatens the provinces credit rating. Nor can they explain why it was done for so long. They are still doing it!

As recently as January, Rob Shaw covered this in the Times Colonist: 

But projects like Site C are pushing up B.C. Hydro’s debt levels, and adding to concerns about the province’s overall “high debt burden” compared to its peers, Moody’s also wrote in its credit opinion.

B.C. Hydro’s debt has increased from $8.1 billion in 2008 to a projected $18.1 billion last year, and there is a further $20 billion expected in the future for infrastructure projects, a $2-billion annual upgrade program and the Site C dam.

“The anticipated increase in debt continues to pressure the province’s rating since it raises the contingent liability of British Columbia,” wrote Moody’s, which has expressed similar concerns the past three years. Hydro’s debt is ultimately backstopped by taxpayers if the situation worsens, noted Moody’s.

I’ve also seen BC Liberals state that the NDP and Greens aren’t standing up for the people working at Site C by promising to stop it, or put it before the BCUC for review… but when questioned,those same critics refuse to discuss why the Liberals aren’t standing up for the interests of 1.9 million BC Hydro customers who were denied the assurance of the BC Utilities Commissions review… and will ultimately pay for Clarks reckless endeavor via even higher rates.

Even groups like Resource Works are putting out cherry picked information on twitter that the Joint Review Panel said there were benefits to Site C, yet refuse to acknowledge that the Joint Review also recommended the project be sent to the BC Utilities Commission because they had no ability or mandate to review the numbers, nor could they see the need on BC Hydros timeline .

All these issues matter. They matter to me and should matter to you because it’s what isn’t commonly known or talked about that will ultimately break the bank.

This kind of financial recklessness of taking from ICBC while ICBC raises rates and forcing BC Hydro to borrow millions to give them even more, has got to stop. And when it stops, that revenue needs to come from somewhere…but no one wants to talk about that either. Nor is the premier or her team being questioned on this.

I have noticed that in the press, the NDP’s John Horgan and Andrew Weavers Greens are immediately asked how they will pay for their latest promises, and rightly so.

But I don’t see , nor have I seen in the past,those same questions given to the premier or any of her cabinet on any number of promises or announcements that have been made over the last month. In some instances the money was in fact new funding, in others the government simply re-announced old funding,trying to make it look new. They were making so many announcements that in one case in Maple Ridge, they announced a million dollars in funding to a youth shelter that had closed two years earlier!

This is why I tell readers to question everything. You really have to. These election games are used every election for one good reason and that is because they still work.. voters need to pay attention.

Both the NDP and the Greens have some excellent points in their platforms. In fact where one party is weak, the other party is strong and vice versa, which really makes things interesting. I don’t believe the Greens can form government, but I do think they are a force to be reckoned with and while some say I’m crazy, I think there is a good chance to see a minority government forming. And while the Liberals need to go, that doesn’t mean you should stop questioning their opponents!

This is where I need to make myself perfectly clear. I cannot condone or support in any manner a Liberal government with Christy Clark as premier. They have refused repeatedly to ban big money, the largest and most insidious influence on any and every government. They have rewarded donors with large contracts, in some cases direct award, which has been reported on several times in the last few months. They have gone to incredibly long and bizarre lengths to drag out the health firings travesty in which one man committed suicide. Destroyed information. Gone to extraordinary lengths to keep information hidden from public view. And at one point, removed the penalties for document destruction just days before a staffer was charged…

It’s all documented. Reported on. And verifiable. Read the embedded links referred to in this post.

But Premier Clark and her well staffed and monied war room know full well how to campaign around all of it, despite the cracks that are showing when rich and powerful men whine on twitter about the NDP resorting to class warfare… The current government has shown many times in the past 4 years that they have lost all moral authority to govern.

One can almost smell the fear in the air…moreso from those who stand to benefit the most from another Liberal win, and I can tell you this much… it’s not you or I who benefits if that happens.

Promises, lies or integrity – which one will matter to voters on May 9th?

“Another promise, another scene,
Another package lie to keep us trapped in greed
With all the green belts wrapped around our minds
And endless red tape to keep the truth confined
(So come on)

Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend..”