Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Random Thoughts on Who Will Be Our Next Premier: Choose Well Liberal Party, BC is Watching

The knives are unsheathed in the Republic. Politics in BC constantly prove that the truth is always much more compelling, bizarre and interesting than fiction.

So, where are things at? The BC Liberals are all over the place with candidates coming out of the woodwork. In alphabetical order, some random thoughts about the contenders.

George Abbott - He is the guy to watch. He's got a lot of Liberal MLA's supporting him and Liberal member support. He's enough of a moderate and he's preaching the right approach right now to bruised insiders - he will create a more collaborative, kinder and gentler caucus. He's not going to be the big bully that Campbell has been outed to be. He's held enough important Cabinet positions that he's had a chance to demonstrate some degree of administrative experience. He's not been caught up in any big scandals. We don't know of any "special investigators" that have had to be put on the job to look into any unsavoury allegations about him over the past decade. You better believe savvy Liberal strategists know that if Abbott wins for Premier, this will be a deadly blow to the rudderless NDP.

Christy Clark - She's the biggest gift to the NDP right now, as scattered as they are currently. Reading her bio is surreal. She claims to have been a passionate supporter of families in her first term (1996), yet doesn't even mention her ill-fated turn as Minister of Children & Families. She, like a long list before and after her was very unsuccessful in that role and it was like being banished to Siberia sending her there. In fact she had one of the shortest tenures as Minister and played the "family card" when she stepped out of politics when the heat was growing too much over Basi-Virk.

She was absolutely disastrous as Minister of Education and caused a great deal of angst for many while in that role. She wasn't well liked amongst her own cabinet as Deputy Premier, a position she held during the time of the Raid on the Legislature. It's also pretty telling the only support she has from sitting MLA's and former caucus members is Harry Bloy, who has been firmly planted on the back bench even under her own time as a leader in Cabinet.

Clark is also already talking about calling a snap election if she becomes premier. Mark these words, that would spell the end of her political career for good. Since she took her break to "spend more time with her family" in 2005 and since becoming a CKNW hack, she's managed to probably piss off a number of voters. She has no current history of support in whatever riding she will run in.

BC voters are sick & tired of politicians, in general, and even more so for opportunistic ones who figure they can just show up to the party (election), with nothing to back themselves up. Voters want politicians to earn their votes. As Holman notes in the linked article above, she wouldn't even have the support of MLA's in her own party who were only elected in 2005, because some could possibly lose their pensions if they weren't re-elected. And with the HST as the ticking time bomb with voters, it would be a huge risk to go an election in 2011. She would be disastrous to her own Liberal colleagues.

The knives are really being plunged into her back right now too and demonstrating the baggage she lugs behind her to the Premier's chair and the Legislature for the BC Liberal party over the Raid on the Legislature/ Basi-Virk matters.

"To me, it's case closed." Some very damaging words, captured in this video of Clark being asked about her family involvement in this case. For a public that wants an inquiry to find out who in government was involved and responsible for the "sale" of BC Rail and all of the other boondoggling around it this was not a good, nor smart answer. Like Falcon below, it has to have you shaking your head as to why someone with THE most baggage going into this race would want to do this, or think that if they say it's over, it's over for everyone else. This speaks to insight & judgment in a big way.

IMHO, Clark is THE best Premier to lead the BC Liberals into the next election.

Mike De Jong - He's a solid candidate. No apparent dirt, no apparent "special investigations" into his conduct. Appears to be a capable, competent performer as a Cabinet minister. Rather lack lustre, not the most exciting guy, but he's not unlikable, or ruthless like some of the others are known to be. He's also responded to public feedback, such as need for an Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Women in BC.

In an apparent media grab, he was the first to propose lowering the age for voting to 16. I fail to see how this is any way relevant. He's been the Attorney General & in Cabinet for some time & never had this brainstorm before. Does he know something we don't? Has he been secretly polling teenagers? Are they clambering to elect him? It's really a non-issue and all of the candidates are looking foolish for jumping on this train.

Why, oh why, can't politicians hire strategists & communications people who have a clue how things will be perceived by the voting public before setting politicians up to look like idiots?

Kevin Falcon - His blatant attempt to re-brand himself from the ruthless, vicious and uncaring political character he's demonstrated over the last decade by using own child in ads to soften his image is enough to make even the most diehard Liberal groan. For the rest of us - it makes us want to puke until there's nothing left. If he and the mental giants running his campaign think we're all that stupid to believe this leopard can change his spots so quickly then they have drunk the same Kool Aid as the inner circle NDP'ers who thought Carole James stood a chance of winning the next election. Give us all a break.

Political karma is waiting in the wings. Falcon may have strong support with a number of Liberal MLA's, but like the NDP, they all better be thinking strategically, because even if he calls a quick election, his past actions and the disaster that is BC's health care system under his uncaring administration are top of mind for voters, especially outside of the insular urban areas.

He was also disastrously combative in his role as Minister of Transportation. Voters will also be asking themselves whether they really need another real estate developer Premier as the people of BC wonder what happened to all of the prime real estate that has been lost under this administration over the last decade and where the money went?

Like the NDP, Liberal party members better understand this, in spite of his attempts to re-brand himself as "A New Generation of Leadership," he has the stench of the same old BC Liberal party/Socred oldtimers and that will lose this party the next election. The people of BC, including Liberal voters, are hurting and just damn fed up with the way the BC Liberals have been doing things over the last decade. They want change and an end to the status quo of how this government has operated.

From the He Didn't Really Say that Did He? File:

He stated China “really has the ultimate Kevin Falcon government structure,” because “They don't have the labour or environmental restrictions we do. It's not like they have to do community consultations. They just say ‘we're building a bridge’ and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks. Could you imagine if we could build like that?”"

Dr. Moira Stilwell - What can you really say? She's obviously a bright, accomplished and successful woman. I don't think anyone is seeing her as a front runner for Premier and it's unclear what support she has amongst her own MLA's, party and colleagues at the Cabinet table. I say good on her for being the first to throw her hat in the ring and going on record for stating she supports raising the minimum wage, it's more than any of her other competitors have said on the matter.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Love Letters All Around: Welcome to the Banana Republic of BC

Dan Murphy, The Province.

What absolutely splendid, awkward and interesting times we're having here in the trailer park drama of BC's political scene.

First off, dear readers, I want to thank all of you. Yes, even you PAB lurkers and BC Liberal supporters who seethe at the skewering of your witless leaders. I don't have the time I'd like to devote to discussing all of the reasons I still believe the BC Liberals Suck, although I'm pretty sure most of you have a bunch yourself. So I appreciate that people stop by to see if I have written anything new.

I hope you are finding ways to join the revolution. You know - the one where we make sure our elected officials, of every stripe, gets the fact that they are working for us, using our dollars and we expect a hell of a lot better than we've gotten so far and some things are going to get a change up.

So, after that heartwarming little love letter, let's get ripping, with a bit of a twist.

Who in the hell would ever think we would be getting lessons in leadership, ethics and democracy from the BC Liberals? Definitely not I. But, that's what's happening as they race to lock and load, re-brand and finds them a new leader. Someone who seems new, but is still actually part of the same, tired old party. But, hope springs eternal, even in politics.

Anyone who knows me, knows if I think things aren't working, then I'm a big fan of trying to tear it all apart (in polite society that would include critical analysis and wordy e-mails to people who are pissing me off telling them how things need to change and why). And, when my delightfully tactful and diplomatic methodologies don't find success, then I (figuratively) light the match and scorch things to the ground and help build something new out of the ashes. That's what the BC Liberals are doing right now. It will work, if allowed to.

No doubt inside pressure & Machiavellian scheming was behind Campbell's ignominious admission of defeat (blaming the HST) and announcement he was stepping down as Premier (one of the happiest days BC could have wished for). It's only a loss for the people of Point Grey he will be hanging about until 2013. But I guess that will give the Powers that Be time to get his Directorships worked out. Or whatever his next assignment is now that he's been able to bring BC to its' knees. Carrying out the work of the Man is almost always well rewarded. Campbell need not worry, he is a Made Man.

The Ethical Resisters of the NDP

Beleaguared NDP leader, Carole James and the backroom Silverback hacks are in frantic damage control mode, desperately pulling together an emergency party meeting to try to get the splinter group under control.

Or maybe she's going to drop kick each of them out of the party, if they aren't willing to be "accountable for their behaviour." Booting them out is adding to the rapidly growing list of people she, or her so-called powerbrokers, are punting out of the tent. Isn't that reinforcing the very point the so called "dissidents" are trying to make?

MLA Jenny (Hell ya, I've had enough) Kwan is the most courageous, publically stepping forward, writing a letter and holding a press conference advocating for a one-member one-vote Leadership convention in the NDP. It's escaping me entirely why all the panties are in a bunch over this. When you read the utter nonsense being spouted off by the old school, the fresh voices, ideas and activists of the next wave of NDP leaders become so much more relevant, compelling and necessary.

Why isn't a supposedly democratic organization interested in testing the house, the entire house? This is most important since this hasn't happened once since James became the leader of the party, or lost 2 elections. Hmmm, is Kwan right when she says:

"Under Carole James's leadership, there has been a steady erosion of our democratic principles. Debate has been stifled, decision-making centralized, and individual MLAs marginalized," Kwan said in her statement, adding she thinks the party has also suffered from a "lack of direction" under James.

See a CBC News story on Kwan here. She denies she is interested in running for the leadership of the NDP and explains she is motivated to take this position because of what she is hearing "on the streets."

Statement from Jenny Kwan, MLA, Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant
Dec. 1, 2010.

Kwan isn't wrong either, nor is this about her Wrath, in spite of what some clever political creatures might think. Ask anyone outside the ever more exclusive and delusional inner ranks of the NDP, James, in spite of being a "nice" person (well, not sure if that's still the case), is not the kind of leader the majority of people are looking for now. Two strikes out already. Politics are a cruel mistress, suck it up princess and do the right thing. Time for the old blood to give way to the new, or suffer the fate of all out of touch cabal's, well, they already are - bloody regime change, and devastating loss. It's time for some real, strategic change in the NDP.

The NDP is also currently offering next to nothing for actual policy, or a platform from which to challenge the BC Liberal record. Or a true blue honest opinion. People want to know what they stand for. Pick an informed and principled opinion and stick to it. It's not that bloody hard and it's what earns respect from voters.

From a logical standpoint, this isn't just one off stuff, here are a number of incidents and events that have occurred during the time of Ms. James' leadership:
  • Michael Sathers was expelled from the NDP caucus.
  • Moe Sihota was positioned as president of the NDP and then it was learned money collected from donors was going to pay him for the pleasure of ruining the party, er, I meant running, yes, that's right.
  • Bob Simpson, NDP MLA for was kicked out of caucus, without the proper process being followed, for the mildest and hardly an earth shattering opinion - Carole James speech (pick one), was uninspired and lacked detail. Yes, any reasonable person can see he was way too harsh on James. Oh puhleeze, this is politics, remember, blood sport.
  • Norm Macdonald, resigned as NDP Caucus Chair over the handling of the Simpson affair.
  • Katrine Controy quit her position as Caucus Whip of the NDP. And she had the support of other MLA's, including Jenny Kwan, Lana Popham and Claire Trevena.
Sometimes, as painful as they are, breakups are best. All of those sappy self-help books say you can grow from your pain. And then start again with someone else, a little more battle weary, some more baggage, but ready to move on. That's where the citizens of BC find themselves, staring with astonishment at the train wreck break ups happening inside of both parties, with no viable third party alternative yet in the game.

I've got the perfect new tourism slogan:

Welcome to BC: The Banana Republic of the North.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Now that's an Editorial: Fictitious Funds Can't Rescue BC Liberals

Good editorial, although not exactly earth shattering, it's still nice to see at least a little truth in print for a change. We are hooped here in Beautiful BC. I can't be the only noticing my income dwindling under the new tax on items that previously had no tax. It's actually like a kick in the teeth each time a bill rolls in, or I look at the receipt.

$8.20 HST on Hydro; $9.15 HST to Telus; $1.21 to Gas = it all adds up, month after month.

Went to a worldwide coffee chain and it now costs over $7 for a medium sized drink and a baked good. Over $7 for 2 items!!! Yesterday, I paid over $10 for a half a sandwich and a coffee drink at another local coffee chain. Want to bet this is rapidly informing/reforming my spending habits and those of others I talk to. It can't be a coincidence that there are more and more store owners working the counter. What about all of those jobs the HST was going to bring?

We all know people who lie, most of us have lied at some point in our lives. Once the lies start rolling off our tongues enough, or people around us keep telling us the lies, the truth is replaced by the lies. Seemingly moral, decent people become warped and are treading water in oceans of lies. It's a scary place to be. No life preservers can save people from drowning in the lies that have been created once they've started swimming in the ocean.

It's pretty much only a matter of time before the end once people become trapped in promulgating the lies. Wonder if it's true that in the last moments of life people review the memories of their lives? There are some people who will be able to answer this figurative question as they continue the demise of their political lives.

Fictitious Funds Can't Rescue BC Budget
Burnaby Now. Sept. 18, 2010.

The provincial government's recent presentation of its revised budget is insulting.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced Tuesday that British Columbia's deficit for this fiscal year is now expected to come in at $1.4 billion - $335 million less than when the plan was tabled.

That much is good.

But then Hansen went on to invite taxpayers to tell him what to do with the government's newly "available dollars" for next year. Fund new services? Cut taxes? Reduce the debt?

This part is outrageous.

It doesn't take an accountant to understand that these dollars are fictitious.

The province isn't making more money than originally planned; it's only borrowing less. There is not, in fact, any "extra" money available at all.

To treat the difference between the old projected deficit and the new projected deficit as cash is misleading and irresponsible - and doubly so coming from a government that only just repealed its own law making deficits illegal.

Worse, to suggest that this discrepancy could be used to pay down debt crosses the line from ill-advised to ridiculous.

Since when can negative funds be used to cut debt?

It's nothing new for a government to use accounting sleight-of-hand to buy votes, but to do so in such a blatant fashion is disrespectful.

Any voter with a credit card understands our province's predicament very well.

No amount of silly rhetoric is going to change that.

If the B.C. Liberals want to regain the respect of their electorate, they have to stop trying to dupe them, and begin treating them as the thinking adults that they are.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number: BC Liberal Party Implosion

“There is such an anger and frustration out there a lot of [party] members are walking away. They don't want anything to do with the B.C. Liberals. They're just very, very upset with what's gone on right now.”
- Former Williams Lake mayor and B.C. Liberal nominee Scott Nelson (in the Vancouver Sun), Sept. 7, 2010

This week's song, One, is dedicated to Premier Campbell for all of his work on the HST.

What an extraordinary time of decline in the popularity of Premier Gordon Campbell. Headlines and news stories loudly trumpeting that Campbell now has the dubious distinction of having the lowest poll number, 12%, of any Premier in Canada and even apparently any leader around the world according to the news report on Global BC TV last night.

You're #1 at sucking Mr. Campbell, wooohooo!
We always knew this, it just took everyone else some time to catch up, including some of your party faithful.

It's very exciting to see some of the BC Liberal foot soldiers, starting to fight back and speak out publically and advocate for Campbell's resignation (and Hanson's in Bateman's case, at least initially).

People should not miss the importance of these actions - they demonstrate that the people who co-opted the BC Liberal party have become so unbelievably arrogant and out of touch they've even lost the faith, support and money of their own party members and cheerleaders. You know you're at the point of oblivion and well on the way to extinction when you're being attacked from inside the organism.

Some of these people, like Steve Forseth and Jordan Bateman are the future of this party and they are pissed that their party has been hijacked by the HST issue and by the likes of Campbell and co. who are destroying the party from within and without.

These henchmen and hacks are the future candidates, in the "paying their dues" time of their political careers. And they're angry because these savvy young Libs know, the BC Liberal brand is becoming mud with voters all across the Province and across the voting spectrum and age demographics. Lose, lose and lose any way you look at it.

Here, in no particular order, some of the evidence of the slow, painful and very welcome implosion of the BC Liberals:

Blair Lekstrom calls on Gordon Campbell to resign

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CTV British Columbia is reporting that South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom is calling on Premier Gordon Campbell to step down.

"You hope that he knows when the time has come. I think, without question, most people would agree that the time has come to have a new premier," Lekstrom told CTV News.

Lekstrom resigned from the Liberal caucus earlier this year in protest over the HST and has been sitting as an independent MLA since.


McKay Calls for Campbell to Resign


Former Bulkley Valley-Stikine MLA Dennis MacKay called on BC Premier Gordon Campbell to retire because of the HST.

MacKay says he's become increasingly disillusioned with the Liberals under Campbell, especially with the harmonized sales tax.

MacKay also says he supports former Liberal cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom who quit Campbell's cabinet and the Liberal caucus last June over the way the government was moving ahead with the HST despite widespread concerns among British Columbians.


Premier Campbell should urgently consider Retirement for the good of the BC Liberal Party

Steve Forseth.

"I now find myself, with deep regret, having to join the ranks of Blair Lekstrom, Scott Nelson and Sheila Orr asking BC Premier Gordon Campbell to retire as Leader of the BC Liberal Party..."

For months now, I have tried to convince BC Liberals’ privately, via numerous emails/phone calls, that the provincial government’s communication strategy vis-a-vis the HST and the future of Gordon Campbell is woefully inadequate and needs to change before the voters’ stop listening to us as BC Liberals’.

Gordon Campbell no doubt retains the support of both the Caucus and Cabinet – after all, he is the “Boss”. However, he does not now have, in my view, the support of rank and file BC Liberal Party members’...


B.C. Liberals try to quash party rebellions: HST Backlash: Members say Campbell has poisoned the party

By Michael Smyth, The Province, September 12, 2010.


Party activists were determined to send Campbell, and the rest of the party brass, a pointed message: The premier has become such a reviled and politically toxic figure that his continued leadership of the Liberals threatens to send the reeling party over a cliff.

Reichert told the rebellious group they had no authority to call for Campbell's resignation and their resolution was out of order. The executive stuck it in his face by voting on it anyway, deciding unanimously to "receive, note and file" the resolution, recording the vote in the official minutes of the meeting.

"He [Kelly Reichert, executive director of the B.C. Liberal party] seemed very worried this was going to leak out to the media and it would embarrass the premier," Forseth said, adding the Liberal fixer pleaded for patience.

"He said Campbell could absorb the damage from the HST, so the next leader would not have to wear it," Forseth said. "But our worry is that it's too late for that. The longer Gordon Campbell stays, the worse it will get."

A brilliant editorial by Joseph Roberts of Common Ground magazine is a must-read, but you will have to pick it up at your local library, health food store or elsewhere, as it's not online from what I can see. Here are excerpts below.

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Harper and Campbell tried to harmonize their financial blunders

Two wrongs don't make a right, but this is how Harper and Campbell tried to harmonize their blunders so voters wouldn't notice, or find out.

The first big error occurred when the Conservatives cut the GST from 7% to 5%, which gutted the Feds’ profitable margin for tax collection... The Feds were short of money and not wanting to look stupid, they couldn't just say, “Sorry, we screwed up and we need to put the GST back to 7%, or maybe even eight or 9% to make up for the lost tax revenues.”

They came up with a new tax scheme called the Harmonized Sales Tax. They would pitch it to the provinces and offer them an incentive in the form of transition funding (some call it a bribe).

BC was reeling from the Olympic debt hangover even though MLA’s wages just kept going up. [Ed. And the salaries of senior bureaucrats.] But they wouldn't let the voters know they had blown their budget. It would have been political suicide before the election to tell voters they would be bringing in a new tax (i.e. hiders make liars).

More than 700,000 voters in BC have signed the anti-HST petition and they want better governance. Voters do not like taxation without representation, as was the case when BC's HST was rammed through by an order in Council rather than being fully debated in the legislature. Voters want democracy. They are standing their ground through the process of referendum and if that does not provide relief, then through recall of MLA's.

Two wrongs don't make a right but it does make for strange bedfellows. The provincial Liberal/Conservatives and the federal Conservatives/Liberals have taken each other as dancing partners to distract the voters from seniors fiscally lame screw-ups. Simply put, the Feds are in debt so they take our tax money and give it to the province. Likewise, the province is in debt so intakes are provincial tax money and gives it to the Feds.

This dance of debt continues until the music stops. It is not this writer's intention to have Tweedledee or Tweedledum run our government, but whichever parties are elected, the citizens of our land should be treated with honesty, fairness and provided full disclosure. This is currently not the case and it is up to the citizens to make it so.