Campbell and fan club on the election trail>by Jerry West
February 25, 2005
So much good news is coming out of the B.C. government in Victoria these days one can barely comprehend it all. The election season has started and Gordon Campbell's Liberals are throwing the taxpayers' cash around like randy sailors on shore leave — a description that is probably fitting for the Premier.
Any group or community that does not get a bucket full of dollars between now and the end of April really should feel hard done by and wonder why they were left out of the loop.
The government may not be buying fancy, self- congratulatory ads as it was last year, but does anyone doubt the sudden largesse is any more than campaign spending? The Premier has proclaimed that B.C. is in a “golden decade” which is true if he means that the province has been routinely sprayed with golden fluid the past four years and can look forward to continue being soaked should he form government again.
And, just like masochists, the usual gang of Liberal sycophants masquerading as non-partisan business associations and special interest groups are all climbing over each other to lick the Premier's boots. Every major government press release recently seems to be followed by the clatter of fawning babble from the likes of the Chamber of Commerce, First Dollar Alliance, Mining Association and assorted others who have a vested interest in the Premier's party and hope to continue having their way with the province at the expense of the rest of us.
The response of these groups is funny in a way. It has got to the point that if the Premier were to issue a press release stating that his dog had just relieved itself on the steps of the legislature, this cheering section would send out their own releases stating how wonderful it was that the Liberals had removed more red tape and once again made it possible for dogs to do their business more freely without restrictions.
Of course, they would also point out that under the dreaded NDP no dog could ever do its business on the legislature grounds because of all of the restrictions, depriving the people of the province of all of the benefits of dog droppings scattered about in the true spirit of free enterprise.
It is understandable that Campbell's fan club would rather sing praises than examine reality; after all, who wants to admit that their emperor has no clothes? The government makes much of its tax relief activities, saying that it reduced income taxes for all B.C. families by 25-28 per cent. That is misleading. Much of the tax breaks went to people who could well afford to pay even more taxes, while a 28 per cent cut to folks on lower incomes added up to precious little. Top income earners scored to a tune of more than $20,000 while those who really needed a break were lucky to get $50.
Add to this the increased costs in Medical Services Plan (MSP) payments and replacing services that the government cut, and many in B.C. actually lost income during the past four years. True, but not a good election platform, so you won't hear it from the cheering section.
What you do hear is the good news that the government has cut the provincial sales tax (PST). That is the same kind of good news an abused person gets when their abuser offers to take them to the hospital to have their wounds patched up. The only cut in the PST that we have received is the amount that this government raised it to start with. If they want to really give us good news about the PST they would abolish it and make up the difference in the income tax. Don't hold your breath.
The government also makes a big deal about reducing the deficit by $1.7 billion. What isn't considered is that this is less than the $2 billion chunk that they added to that deficit the first couple of weeks of their mandate when they handed out the tax breaks to their big campaign contributors. What they and the cheering section also fail to make much of in this campaign season are the promises made during the last one. The broken promises of this government litter the province, from the promise not to expand gambling to the one of 5,000 new long term care beds, not to mention the one not to break contracts, and on and on and on.
Broken promises smothered with happy-faced good news announcements and a gaggle of cheering toadies. Does it get any better?
Jerry West is the editor of The Record, an independent, progressive newspaper published every other Wednesday in Gold River, British Columbia.