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.

Friday, September 03, 2010

One by One: BC Liberals Will Resign or Fall, It's Their Choice

"The fact of the matter is it wasn’t on our radar. We didn’t engage in any discussions. I wasn’t thinking about it until after the election.”

- Premier Gordon Campbell (The World Today, CKNW), Aug. 7, 2009

Lies Always Lead to More Lies

Remember back when we were young and many of us experimented with telling little lies, most of the time, when caught, we pled "I don't know why" when asked to fess up to our lies. Invariably, someone either pointed it out to us, or we learned for ourselves that our desperation not to be caught for our original lie led to the next lie, which led on to the next one and so on. The HST is like that for the BC Liberals and most particularly, Colin Hansen, doomed Minister of Finance and Premier Gordon Campbell of the rapidly sinking BC Liberal party.

"The harmonized sales tax was not on our radar. We said it was not part of our election platform and it wasn't."

- Finance Minister Colin Hansen (Times Colonist), July 28, 2009

On March 12, 2009 a briefing note was prepared by senior staffers of the Finance Ministry for the Minister, Colin Hansen on the potential impacts of the HST. This was immediately preceding the election.

It's impossible to recap the media storm swirling around about the disclosures of government documents, such as briefing notes to Hanson and Campbell which are incontrovertible proof, smoking guns even, that heading into the last election the BC Liberals not only knew HST was looming on the horizon, but they also had clear opinions that the HST had the significant potential to harm BC's economy and citizens. Senior bureaucrats, the guys paid to research and think (yes that does happen in government) also informed these elected officials it would likely be at least five years before any improvements would be seen to BC's economy if the HST were to be brought in.

Directly quoted, the briefing note stated:

“There are also studies showing potential short-term economic costs. Given current economic conditions, this could be a concern.”

“The [C.D. Howe] study suggests that it may take five or more years before the impact on [gross domestic product] is positive and even longer for real wages and job numbers to recover.”

Carole James, Opposition leader of the BC NDP, having her say in a guest column in the Province, stated:

"Incredibly, the finance minister claims he never read the HST briefing note. How is it possible that the finance minister failed to read a briefing note prepared for him on what is arguably the single-biggest policy decision of the B.C. Liberal administration?

Either he's not being straight with the public or he's incompetent. And as the finance minister points fingers at anyone but his own government, the B.C. Liberals have left British Columbians adrift. And that's the worst part of this whole mess."

Hanson & Campbell Must Resign

Unlike Jordan (pulled-back-in-line) Bateman, Coleman's Langley Liberal lackey, I won't apologize, or retract this - Colin Hanson must resign. There is no other course of action. He has so profoundly compromised his own integrity as an elected official, a politician and as a human being that he cannot continue to sit in Victoria, or anywhere else.

How must the voters of Vancouver-Quilchena feel? They put this man into office in May 2009. Now they know he lied directly to them during the last election? The evidence continues to mount that Hanson has told more and more lies, to cover up the original lie. He simply is no longer fit and cannot be allowed to continue to represent the people of that riding or the people of BC.

If Hanson does not resign, once November comes, the people of Vancouver-Quilchena must remove him from office by recall. Start sharpening your pencils people. You met the bar for the HST petition, the egregious actions of your sitting MLA cannot go unpunished because he has made a mockery of your trust in him as your elected political representative and the more he spreads his own "misinformation" the more he mocks every single one of you who voted for him. He also seriously continues to damage the very electoral process and political system.

It's people like Colin Hanson and Gordon Campbell who have led to mass cynicism, mistrust (putting it mildly) and a vast disconnect of legions of voters from the electoral system and democracy in BC. We would condemn these kinds of actions of political elites in other countries, this continuing offense to democracy cannot be tolerated or allowed in our own waning civil society.

In January 2009 Premier Gordon Campbell received a briefing note on the HST before he went to the Council of the Federation (of Canadian premiers) meeting.

When you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas

I've said it before and I will say it again, how low will BC Liberal MLA's allow themselves to go as they cling to this fetid and bloated carcass of the BC Liberal party? How much of their own personal integrity and ethics of what is right and wrong are they willing to degrade and sacrifice for this party and it's corrupt and incompetent ways? What cost are these BC Liberals willing to tolerate to their own families? If there is anyone I feel bad for in all of this it is the families of these people, b
ecause the cost of the shameful and disgraceful behaviour of these public officials is also born by their families too. Aren't politicians capable of thinking about that anymore?

Open Message to the BC Liberal MLA's

Take a moment to learn from Blair Lekstrom, who now sits as an Independent in the BC Legislature. He saw the writing on the wall over the HST. It might not be classy and pure self-interest and survival, but he knew that if more people signed the
anti-HST petition than voted for him, it was only a matter of time before he'd be thrown out of office in disgrace.

All you Liberal MLA's better start crunching the numbers, because come November, all of those people who signed the anti-HST petition and I bet a lot more people will be lining up to sign for your recall as the fall out from the HST costs us.

The anti-HST petition machine have got the numbers and they're going to pick you off, one, by one. They know the weakest links in the chain. As many of you MLA backbenchers know, or those stuck with bad portfolios (such as Mary Polak) know, you're just grist for the mill. You helped bring money into the party coffers, maybe a few other things, but other than that, you sit and do nothing, or worse, you've sat by silently while life became a whole lot more expensive and difficult for your constituents.

It isn't a stretch to say that over the last decade in BC, the quality of life for many has been degraded by the BC Liberals governance and administration. Selling off our assets and resources to multi-nationals who take the profits out of the province. And there hasn't been a damn thing citizens, or voters could do about any of it.

But the HST is the tipping point. People are angry and scared, because their paycheques, or pensions, or incomes are not going nearly as far as they did before all of these increased taxes. Life has gotten a whole lot harder for too many for some of you Liberals to survive your own government and party.

So, it's time for the line to be divided in the sand. Liberals MLA's who've sat there quietly while this was all going down better make some big decisions. Will you go down with the party, or will you pull a Lekstrom and fight for your own survival?

You have little to lose by backing away from a dying party and much, much to lose continuing on. You be the judge, but know this - citizens and voters in your ridings will be watching your every move and many more who voted for you in 2009 will be ready to kick you out in disgrace in November 2010.What do you think life will be like for you after that?

Citizen Power

If anything, one of the biggest lessons being learned across Canada by the anti-HST petition is that citizens have power in the face of an arrogant, incompetent and uncaring government. Naysayers said it couldn't be done. They were proved wrong with resounding support to scrap the HST.

For the first time in Canadian history, citizens launched a successful anti-government petition, which was upheld by the courts. The power of citizens can no longer be underestimated. It is what will bring this BC Liberal government down. I look forward to that day, because the BC Liberals have Sucked from day one and they have cheapened and worsened the lives of many for the benefit of a few. That isn't our BC and it's time to reclaim it back from the scoundrels, scalawags and ne'er-do-wells.

Rafe Mair, The Common Sense Canadian, Sept. 2, 2010

Colin Hansen, our Finance Minister, not only isn't telling the truth about the HST situation, he is a sniveling, cringing coward to boot. Be a Man, Hansen! Own up, level with people! You look like the kid with chocolate all over his face denying to his Mom that he pinched the chocolate bar as the store keeper alleged.

If you cannot be honest, at least stand up and admit it!

Michael Smyth, The Province, September 3, 2010


There's a lot of misinformation out there
Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean

Finance Minister Colin Hansen says he's not surprised that a new poll shows two thirds of British Columbians feel the HST has cost them money.

Hansen says the survey by Angus Reid Public Opinion confirms many people have some bad information about the tax, "63 per-cent think that their cell phone bills went up, which they didn't. 61 per-cent think that adult clothing got more expensive because of the HST. That's not true. And what was really surprising is that 76 per-cent thought that basic groceries would be subject to the HST, and of course they're exempt."

Hansen complains the Government wanted to correct that misinformation in a mail-out to British Columbians that Elections BC rejected during the Bill Vander Zalm ANTI-HST petition campaign.