Evaluating The BC Liberal Government

By John H. Redekop Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Trinity Western University. This balanced analysis deals with the factual record, not the platform. The record is more instructive.

If I vote Liberal on May 14 it will be for the following reasons.

Major Reasons
1. The strong economy. In 1992, when the NDP was elected, BC’s GDP per capita was 8% above the Canadian average. By 2001, when the NDP was defeated, it was 8% below. StatsCan now reports it’s again above the Canadian average. In 2013 Moody’s reaffirmed its Triple-A rating for BC – the highest possible. Moody’s praised “the province’s track record of prudent fiscal planning and of managing fiscal pressures effectively.”
2. Wise taxation. BC has the lowest income tax rate in Canada for those earning less than $120,000. The small business tax rate is now half what it was under the NDP.
3. The 2010 Olympics. With Victoria’s assistance they were a roaring success.
4. The Port Mann bridge and the freeway widening. Finally a government did something about this bottleneck.
5. The Vancouver Convention Centre. This amazing new facility is a great asset for the entire province.
6. The reconstruction of BC Place Stadium. With its retractable roof this edifice is truly spectacular.
7. Major projects. For example, Rio Tinto announced a $3.3 billion upgrade to its Kitimat aluminum smelter creating 2,500 construction and 1,000 long-term jobs. There are many other examples.
8. Civil Service reduction. In 2002 the FTE (full-time equivalent) was 42,029; In 2012 it was 31,574.

Secondary Reasons
1. The minimum wage has been increased to a fairer $10.25.
2. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business awarded BC an “A” for leading all provinces in reduction of red tape.
3. Since June, 2012, welfare recipients can earn up to $200 a month without any clawback.
4. The Liberals have supported high tech. According to Todd Stone, “BC is now a world leader in clean tech with over 200 clean tech firms generating an estimated $2.5 billion in revenue in 2011.”
5. The Liberals distributed many regional grants ranging from $172,000 for Abbotsford’s Warm Zone to $500 million for St. Paul’s Hospital.
6. Administrative tribunals were established to expedite the handling of driving offences.
7. A 10-point, $2 million anti-bullying strategy was implemented.
8. An Independent Investigations Office was established to investigate serious cases involving police officers.
9. The Domestic Violence Unit was created to train 20,000 people to respond to such violence.

If I don’t vote Liberal it will be for the following reasons.

Major Reasons
1. The HST fiasco. This colossal, costly blunder triggered widespread anger.
2. The ethnic vote blunder. The plan to use government resources for partisan gain was wrong.
3. The $6 million blunder. Forgiving the legal defence loan of $6 million made to Liberal senior staffers Dave Basi and Bob Virk, after were convicted of crimes in the BC Rail case, violated a signed agreement and was wrong.
4. The debt. When the Liberals were elected in 2001 BC’s direct debt was $27.5 billion. When Christy Clark took over it was $34 billion.
It is now $42 billion. If we include the guaranteed agencies’ debt the figures are $33.6 billion, $45 billion, and $56 billion.
5. Government accounts. In 2011 Auditor General John Doyle stated that “For a government that strives for transparency and accountability this is unacceptable.”
6. The carbon credits. In 2011-12 the government’s Pacific Carbon Trust took in only $54,000 from private firms while public institutions – hospitals, schools, universities, etc. – paid $18.2 million to buy carbon credits. The plan is a failure.
7. The carbon tax. At 6.7 cents per litre this tax penalizes consumers and does not reduce pollution.
8. Cost overruns. The new convention centre was to cost $495 million; it cost $883 million. Reconstructing BC Place Stadium with a retractable roof was to cost $150 million; it cost $458 million.
9. Child poverty. One in seven BC children lives in poverty; the second worst provincial reality.
10. Bad decisions. In 2006 the government declined to read and process the crucial “Missing Women Report”. Many lives might have been saved. It reneged on its promise not to sell BC Rail. In 2011 the government’s incredible mishandling of Boss Power’s uranium mine application cost BC taxpayers $30 million. In 2012 the government rejected a tentative deal with Telus to rename BC Place Stadium and thus lost $35 million.

Secondary Reasons
1. British Columbians pay more than twice what Ontarians do for generic drugs.
2. Instead of lowering ICBC rates, the Liberals’ March 2010 budget transferred $778 million of ICBC surplus funds to the government’s general revenue.
3. $780,000 was spent on a pro-HST mailer that was never mailed.
4. $100,000 was spent on improving the Coquihalla Toll Plaza a few months before tolls were abolished and it was removed.
5. After the big sale to CN in 2003, BC Rail was left with 40 kilometres of track and 30 employees. CEO Kevin Mahoney reportedly continued to be paid $500,000 a year, about the same as the CEO of BC Hydro with 5,000 employees.
6. BC, like the rest of Canada, has one healthcare bureaucrat for about 1,400 residents. Germany, which spends less per capita on healthcare and has virtually no waiting lists, has one for about 15,000.
7. Some high salaries and severances are unconscionable. For example, in 2010 almost 99% of BC Hydro’s 6,000 employees received bonuses totalling $42.3 million. Almost 40%, 2,371, earned more than $100,000. As reported in 2009, despite the fiscal crisis at BC Ferries, CEO David Hahn’s salary was more than $1 million. In 2011, while Community Living BC was closing group homes and cutting back services for adults with developmental disabilities, senior managers received $300,000 in bonuses. When Premier Christy Clark appointed new political aides, thirteen others who left received bonuses; Allan Seckel received $549,776.
8. The first Family Day holiday was very expensive. The cost to the average small business was $1,135. The cost to BC’s economy was at least $200 million.
9. With rising home costs the Land Transfer Tax has become unfair. It must be revised or discarded.
10. B C’s justice system is in crisis. Because of incredible delays, serious offenders go free.

I have studied this and other evidence and have decided how I will vote. I urge all eligible voters to do likewise.

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