Wednesday, December 07, 2011
One year after Gordon Campbell ...
The NDP candidate for Vancouver-Fraserview sees little difference between Premier Christy Clark and her predecessor.
By Gabriel Yiu,
The Straight - December 2, 2011
After former premier Gordon Campbell’s resignation, his successor Christy Clark brought in a brief period of greater popularity for her party. One year on, this has all but faded.
An opinion poll released last month found that the B.C. NDP has 40-percent support, way ahead of the B.C. Liberals’ 31 percent. Compared to the previous poll, the B.C. Liberals have dropped 13 percentage points while the B.C. Conservatives enjoyed a big jump, with the support at 18 percent of the populace.
The opinion poll sounds the alarm for the B.C. Liberal Party. This is because if this trend is maintained, the next poll could show that support for both the B.C. Liberal and B.C. Conservative parties stand in the 20-percent territory. At that point, the B.C. Liberals could no longer claim that they’re the natural party that can defeat the NDP.
There was indeed a honeymoon period for Clark, when the B.C. Liberals' support rebounded from the bottom and Clark’s personal approval ranked way ahead of her party. But after half a year of Clark’s governing, she was shown to be merely another Gordon Campbell.
The harmonized sales tax was not the only issue that brought Campbell down; the B.C. Rail corruption case played a large part, too.
In December 2003, the RCMP searched the legislature. The case involving high-ranking Liberal government officials was big national news. After years of investigation and legal procedures, the trial finally began in May 2010. But just before a former finance minister and a long list of witnesses were about to testify in court, the government struck a deal with the defence.
The agreement resulted in Dave Basi and Bob Virk pleading guilty and signing a nondisclosure agreement. They do not have to go to jail but would serve two years house confinement. What this means is that they can live with their family, go to work, go shopping, go to the gym, and take their kids to sports events.
The province promised to pay for their $6 million legal fees—contrary to the normal practice of the government only paying lawyers' bills for public servants found not guilty. The assets that were held as a lien for the legal fees were released to them.
The guilty pleas and sudden end of the B.C. Rail case were announced in October last year. At that time, Clark was a talk-show host on the radio. She raised a series of questions about and levelled some criticisms about the settlement. Nevertheless, once she became premier, she did an about-face regarding her position.
Some veteran pundits like Alex Tsakumis and Bill Tieleman have been writing articles pointing out that Clark, her brother, and her former husband were linked to the B.C. Rail corruption case, but the premier has maintained that the case is over and she has opposed calling a public inquiry.
Her position on the HST has also been inconsistent. Clark previously condemned the Campbell government’s tactics in bringing in and promoting the HST, but when she became premier, her government applied the same deceptive approach in its referendum campaign.
B.C. Hydro’s launching of the so-called “smart meter” is an exact duplication of the way of the HST. No consultation, a dark-room and under-the-table operation, neglect of strong public opposition (even the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution against the smart meters), wasting taxpayers’ money to buy ads to convince the public… The public can clearly see what Clark is doing. No wonder the B.C. Liberals’ public support is dropping.
Talking about B.C. Hydro, I should mention what was recently revealed by B.C.'s auditor general. The management of the Crown corporation was caught incorporating huge expenses already incurred onto the books in the future. This turned a deficit this year into a surplus one.
As a result, B.C. Hydro executives received a performance bonus. If this kind of practice was detected in the private sector, the Canada Revenue Agency would likely investigate, while those responsible would be fired. But when this happens under the B.C. Liberal government's watch, it is OK.
Gabriel Yiu is a small-business owner who was recently nominated as the B.C. NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.