Feature Story                                                                Friday, June 23, 2017

 

Let's Make a Deal

A never-ending election in BC could send voters back to the poles once again

BC Government Caucus/Voice file photo

 

Premier Christy Clark (r) and MLA John Martin (c) talk with  locals at Ruth and Naomi's in July 2014.

 

he musical chairs three-party election continues. You can almost hear Bob Barker say "Come on down, you're the next contestant on the Price is Right!"

 

Thursday, the Liberals released their Speech from the Throne. Both Green Party Leader  Andrew Weaver and NDP Leader John Horgan responded  to the Speech by saying the Liberals stole their platform and that after 16 years BC is ready for a change in government. Clark answered by saying the Liberals want to work with the NDP and the Green Party.

 

Monday, the MLA's head back to the Legislature to debate. A non-confidence vote Thursday means the Lt. Governor Judith Guichon could  let the NDP  form government or call a "snap election" and voters may be back at the poles as early as July.  Community centres and voting place have been put on short notice.

 

This last election cost $34 million. It's not known how much another election would cost but speculation is that it would be less. Both the NDP and Greens say they don't want another election. Plus, there's very little mention of the costs associated with another election.  Regardless of the what government is in, people will blame Clark for another waste of millions that could have gone into proper childcare, schools, infrastructure ie. the Patullo bridge.

 

Below is the Liberals strategy moving forward. Followed by the NDP list of promises.

Today’s speech from the throne is an important moment in history – it reflects both the priorities British Columbians articulated in the recent election, and the ability to invest in programs and services that British Columbians depend on, thanks to years of sound fiscal management and building Canada’s leading economy.

“British Columbians spoke loud and clear – they’re looking for a better balance between economic, social, and environmental priorities,” said Premier Christy Clark. “Together, we have built the most solid economic foundation in Canada – and with that, an opportunity to take better care of each other, and invest in the services we all need.”

Delivered in the legislature by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, the speech will be debated before members vote in what is expected to be a test of confidence of the recently re-elected government.

“The election revealed a gap in understanding between urban and rural British Columbia,” said Premier Clark. “We have to bridge that gap because we all succeed when we thrive together, regardless of where we live in this province, we are all British Columbians.”  

The speech from the throne outlines a bold vision, one that reflects the priorities British Columbians articulated in May: a balance between economic growth and job creation, investments in social programs, and environmental action. It outlines initiatives that will make a positive difference for British Columbia families.

Reforming our Institutions

  • A comprehensive ban on corporate, union, and third party donations, including in-kind, to political parties.

  • Impose a maximum donation limit for individuals to political parties.

  • A referendum on electoral reform.

  • Strengthen lobbyist legislation and regulations.

Child care and Early Childhood Education

  • An immediate $1-billion investment over the next four years – the largest in B.C.’s history – to create 60,000 new spaces, in addition to the 13,000 already committed.

  • Cover an additional 150,000 children with full or partial child-care subsidies.

  • Increase the number of early childhood educators.

  • Explore partnerships with school districts to co-locate new child-care spaces at elementary schools.

Fairer, Healthier Society

  • A new provincewide Poverty Reduction Strategy, with a particular focus on children.

  • A $100/month increase to social-assistance rates, with a process to recommend future annual increases.

  • Index annual Disability Assistance rate increases at CPI going forward.

  • A plan to expand and build on the proven success of the Single Parent Employment Initiative .

  • Basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 transitioning out of care.

  • A commitment to fully implement Grand Chief Ed John’s recommendations in the Report on Indigenous Child Welfare.

  • Increase legal aid funding by 25%, ensuring families can better access and navigate our legal system.

  • Increase the number of RCMP officers dedicated to drug enforcement by 30%.

  • Create  a new Minister of State for Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery.

  • Build a new Centre for Mental Health and Addictions in Surrey.

  • Work to accelerate immediate access to MRIs, hip and knee operations.

  • Increase access to family doctors by training 112 more general practitioners, bringing the total to 400.

  • 500 more residential care beds to support our seniors.

  • Ensure clear, measurable daily care-hour standards are in place, monitored and enforced.

  • Double the Home Renovation Tax Credit and create a new Respite Tax Credit to help families who care for their ageing loved ones.

  • Work to fully eliminate MSP for B.C. families.

  • Establish a Royal Commission on Education to ensure the next generation of students and educators both have the resources, training and tools they need.

  • Increase accessibility requirements on new construction and in the design of public spaces.

  • Increase the minimum number of suites in multi-unit residential buildings designed with basic accessibility features.

Communities and Transit

  • Immediate action to expand public transit in Metro Vancouver, including the Broadway corridor and Surrey LRT.

  • End the referendum requirement for new transit revenue sources.

  • Work with our neighbours in Washington State on high-speed rail between Vancouver and Seattle.

  • Work to build light rail on southern Vancouver Island and a passenger ferry connection between Vancouver and Nanaimo.

  • Conduct feasibility studies to connect Lower Mainland and North Shore communities by transit and light rail.

  • Convene an all-party committee for extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders on ride sharing.

  • Eliminate tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, work with TransLink to eliminate tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge and expedite the replacement of the Patullo Bridge.

  • Fully fund adult basic education and ESL programs to help new British Columbians adapt and integrate.

  • Double BC Arts Council funding to build capacity in order to be a leader in the new economy.

Housing Affordability

  • Work with local governments and the private sector to increase supply, particularly along transit lines and corridors while supporting municipalities to eliminate backlogs and speed up construction.

  • Build 50,000 new units over 10 years as part of a new Rent-to-Own program for the middle class.

  • Protect renters’ rights by prohibiting landlords from skirting rent-control protections and ensuring tenants are respected when landlords make improvements to their buildings.  

  • Host a Housing Summit to be convened in fall 2017 with all levels of government and stakeholders. Real estate speculation will be one of the challenges put before participants.

Rural Communities

  • Double the Rural Economic Dividend to ensure small communities see the benefits of the wealth they create, and are able to diversify their economies.

  • Work to open eight new mines by 2022, and invest $18 million to improve mine permitting, oversight, compliance and enforcement.

  • Ensure food security and protection of agricultural land by doubling the Grow Local program  and bringing an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020.

Environment and Innovation

  • Move forward with Site C to transition our economy away from carbon and help reach an ambitious emissions-free target for all new non-commercial vehicles in Metro Vancouver by 2035.

  • Raise the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, starting in 2019, up to a total of $50 per tonne by 2022.

  • For all future carbon tax increases, the PST will be reduced by a corresponding amount.

  • $50 million expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout B.C.

  • $50 million more for BC Parks and double the number of conservation officers.

 

The NDP critsized the Liberals' Speech.
On the day the writ dropped, Christy Clark said:
“Leadership, I think, demands that we be clear about where we stand, that we be principled and stick with what we believe in, and that we be consistent in fighting for that.” (Christy Clark, Campaign ad, April 11 2017). As recently as 10 days ago, Christy Clark said she wasn’t making any significant policy shifts:

"We're not pursuing any major new policy changes which is why you saw, it's pretty much a stand-pat cabinet.” (Christy Clark, CP News, June 12)

But this afternoon, on the cusp of being defeated and replaced with a new government, Christy Clark delivered a desperate throne speech comprised almost entirely of BC NDP commitments she has spent her political career fighting against.

Here are just a few of the recent times Clark and her team rejected the policies she claims to support today.

On the removal of tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann:
"The decision to forgo all toll revenues in the way the NDP have announced, in my view, will guarantee a credit downgrade for B.C… This decision in and of itself is sufficient to lead to a credit downgrade." (Mike de Jong, Metro News, April 10, 2017)

On the carbon tax:
“Well what I would say is we have an absolute pledge to freeze taxes, to freeze the carbon tax, to freeze income tax, to freeze business taxes, because we want to make sure life can be affordable and people can find jobs.” (Christy Clark, CKYE, May 8, 2017)

On childcare funding:
"This is a $2.4 billion a day proposal. There is a reason why taxes are over $8,000 more in Quebec than they are in British Columbia." (Christy Clark, BC Local News, Feb 22, 2017)

“It would take an absolute minimum, extremely conservative estimate, of $1.5 billion additional a year. That’s a lot of money. We don’t have that amount of money.” (Stephanie Cadieux, Global, Dec. 1, 2016)

On banning corporate and union donations:
"We are not about to change anything. We have looked at this thing from a party perspective and will provide transparency.” (Rich Coleman, CBC Radio, March 15, 2017)

On reversing their cuts to Adult Basic Education funding:
“The decision to allow institutions to charge tuition for adult upgrading programs was necessary to ensure sustainability of these important programs...” (Andrew Wilkinson, Comox Valley Record, April 27, 2016)

On the carbon tax:
“Well what I would say is we have an absolute pledge to freeze taxes, to freeze the carbon tax, to freeze income tax, to freeze business taxes, because we want to make sure life can be affordable and people can find jobs.” (Christy Clark, CKYE, May 8, 2017)

On childcare funding:
"This is a $2.4 billion a day proposal. There is a reason why taxes are over $8,000 more in Quebec than they are in British Columbia." (Christy Clark, BC Local News, Feb 22, 2017) “It would take an absolute minimum, extremely conservative estimate, of $1.5 billion additional a year. That’s a lot of money. We don’t have that amount of money.” (Stephanie Cadieux, Global, Dec. 1, 2016)

On banning corporate and union donations:
"We are not about to change anything. We have looked at this thing from a party perspective and will provide transparency.” (Rich Coleman, CBC Radio, March 15, 2017)

On reversing their cuts to Adult Basic Education funding:
“The decision to allow institutions to charge tuition for adult upgrading programs was necessary to ensure sustainability of these important programs...” (Andrew Wilkinson, Comox Valley Record, April 27, 2016)
 



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