Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Day the BC Government Changed

The way I figure it is that we here in BC are at a crossroads, a time of truth and of revelation and hopefully, a time where we will all choose wisely as we step inside the booth to vote for our next government and possibly a new electoral system.

I started this blog in 2005 as a culture jam, a sneaky way to take the piss against a government that was intent on selling every last asset and resource we need for a prosperous future. A way to provoke thought in citizens, to encourage people in civic and political engagement and processes. It was also a way to channel my energy, anger and hurt at seeing the harm being done to the most vulnerable around us and the purposeful destruction of the social safety net in the province of my birth.

I also saw the battering of the people - good, caring people working on the frontlines, struggling to do a good job in providing service to the people of BC and being treated like garbage, fodder to use up and spit out. Changes to labour laws, Employment Standards, Worker’s Compensation, torn up negotiated contracts, slashing of thousands of jobs, diminished standards of work and whole sectors being destroyed.

Then it became something entirely different, a place to catalogue fast disappearing media and stand on my soapbox, in the tradition of Speakers Corner in London. Blogging was a new way to get around the media concentration in Canada, the erosion of the written word and the lack of commitment to an unbiased way of reporting the news and political governance.

This blog’s bias is unapologetically clear, transparent and is an organizing principle for the blog. This blog doesn’t claim to be anything but what it is, unlike the mainstream media in BC. We believe the Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals have been the worst, most corrupt and duplicitous government in BC’s history and we are deeply ashamed of how they’ve impacted our national and international reputation and hurt so many people in our province and how they are selling everything off.

Blogging has also given me a place to offer an alternative analysis and perspective of how Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals were conducting business, OUR business and the real world consequences of their social and economic policies and ideologically driven machinations.

Along the way, I was also offered the opportunity to learn more about the way in which the BC Liberal government was conducting the business of governance, their political and organizational ideology. Neo-conservatism is their mantra. It’s the foundation to their strategic unraveling of the complex and bureaucratic organization of our government and the public service that used to serve the best interests of the citizens of British Columbia.

Right off the hop, when elected in 2001 the BC Liberals and their invisible backroom players sprang into action – it was the old, smash ‘em over the head and while they’re still reeling, we’ll rush through a whole bunch of big changes and they’ll never know what hit ‘em and even better, they won’t be able to stop ‘em.

Core reviews, slashing of budgets and staff beyond reason, or intelligence. De-regulation, privatization, alternative service delivery, transformation. Innovation bastardized to support the ideology, to sell the assets and resources of BC to insider friends and friends of friends, or American-based multi-national corporations.

What stands out most to me from this past 8 years is the debasement and corruption of our government, of our elected leaders and the BC public service, which is gradually being privatized and appears to be in a race to the bottom. Anyone working in, working with, or even writing about the BC government has found their own personal and professional dignity and integrity compromised. It is an inevitability when lying down with these dogs, even if one didn’t know what they were doing.

In many ways, our very moral fibre has been eaten away and once proud, sustainable and commonsense values have been diminished and replaced by a mentality that says everything is fair game and the people who form our government are not responsible, nor accountable for their behaviour while in office. To the victor goes the spoils is the new hegemony in BC. There has been a normalization of values of corruption, of immorality and of the narcissistic selfishness that places the wants and desires of the few over the safety, health and wellbeing of the many. That isn’t the BC I have grown up in and it isn’t the BC I want for the future, for myself, my family, our children.

I want to send a BIG shout out to the many dedicated bloggers and journalists out there who have contributed to the public good by ensuring that certain scandals, insider information about governments deals and happenings didn’t just get lost in the ether. Many of us know that we have experienced a profound failure of journalistic integrity in BC, but there are a few gems who still buck the system and get the word out to the voters and citizens of BC.

I want to thank the many activists, multi-media artists, and candidates running who have all thrown themselves into this election and engaged in civic and political life in a way most of us don’t have the stomache, or courage to do. Their creativity, passion and commitment to the social justice and human rights is so inspiring and is like a light in the darkness. Being involved in politics is frustrating, maddening and worth every minute if you can make a difference in the lives of those who need the help most.

Happy Voting to those who didn’t cast their ballots in Advance polls, which have had a record high turn out (297,201). With 85 seats up for grabs, the winning party needs just 43 seats to form government.

Ridings to Watch

Kamloops - First and foremost, keep your eyes on Kamloops, with its history of electing the winning political party each year since 1903.

Abbotsford South – I would look to a shift of voters to Gurcharan Dhaliwal of the BC Conservatives, as voters can’t stomache voting for John Van Dongen, the disgraced former Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General who recently had his driving license removed by his own Ministry for unsafe driving.

Burnaby-Deer Lake – It will be a tough battle between Kathy Corrigan (NDP) and John Nurany who has essentially been an invisible Liberal MLA, especially when plans to build a new jail in Burnaby came to light.

Cariboo Ridings - With the two new ridings and very close wins for the two NDP incumbents, these will be ridings to keep a close eye on.

Delta South – Independent Vicki Huntington stands a real chance of upsetting Stonewally Oppal who happened to remember he lives in this riding in time for the election. It’s too little, too late, it’s time for him to go. We’d put our money on Ms. Huntington to beat Dileep Athaide, the NDP candidate too.

Fraser North – This area is an important one, spanning 11 different ridings on the north side of the Fraser river, with a range of populated urban areas and rural, smaller communities.

Langley – It will be a tough race between Kathleen Stephany, of the NDP and Mary Polak of the BC Liberals. Polak has been considered a real no-show for constituents, while she’s been busy building her political career. Stephany has a solid reputation as someone with integrity, high moral value and conviction, who has consistently acted in the public’s interest.

Kootenay East – Look for Troy Sebastian to be a front runner. Plain & simple, there is no room in BC for someone like Bill Bennett anymore. Anyone who has the poor judgment to place an ad that might be perceived as a jab about Sebastian’s status as a First Nations person is not someone who should be getting paid by the taxpayers of BC. And it’s not the first time he’s shown terrible judgment before.

Bill Bennett placed the ad in a free weekly newspaper as part of his candidacy for the May 12 provincial election. The ad reads, "You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how the money is being spent," underneath a photo of Bennett and his family and a slogan that reads, "He's one of us." (CBC News).

Kamloops-North Thompson & Kamloops-South Thompson – The newly configured ridings will offer an interesting toss up in this election.

The North – The region with 10 ridings, many of whom are home to hurting families and communities who have received little support from the sitting government. This could be an important swing region.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale – This new riding has no incumbent running, but well-known local political and community players running for the BC Conservatives, Liberals and NDP this will be a riding to pay attention to.

Vancouver-Fairview – Gabriel Yiu, riding resident and advocate, running for the NDP vs. Kash Heed, a rent-a-politician for the BC Liberals.

Vancouver-Point Grey – Campbell and his campaign people may have greatly overestimated the support he has in this riding. Mel Lehan of the NDP is well known, well liked and has a solid track record of helping & supporting constituents. Campbell has quite literally dissed the constituents of the riding by not even gracing them with his presence, as he failed to show up for any All Candidates meetings for his own voters and pranced around BC wooing voters elsewhere. BIG mistake.

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