Four weeks until this poor benighted province dumps one of the worst governments in recent memory.
Four weeks until sanity is restored.
At least that’s what I believe. While it’s not a slam-dunk, take it for granted election it is the closest thing to it since 2001.
That is, unless you’re Gary Mason who concludes his ‘welcome to the campaign’ column this morning by predicting “we could be in store for one of the most compelling and surprising elections BC has witnessed I some time.”
Now I’ve just got back in town, but as far as I can remember I didn’t spend the last four years on Mars. Most of that time I spent in British Columbia, where we are holding the election of which Mr. Mason speaks.
And here’s how I recall that period, politically speaking.
The BC Liberals won a close election in 2009 and immediately blew the mandate, announcing they kind of didn’t tell the truth about the deficit by about $2 billion. ‘And BTW’, they added, ‘we’re imposing a $2 billion tax shift from business onto average people, contrary to what we said in the election’.
Throat cut, the government continued to govern calmly playing ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak a bunch of drivel’ in the face of a campaign to hold a referendum on the HST.
Surprising to only the government and the media, the public said ‘yes please we’d like to have a referendum on this **!!?*# tax.’
The BC Liberal Premier tossed his cookies and left, but not before a) securing a plum patronage position from his ideological buddy in Ottawa and b) using 6 million taxpayer generated dollars to plea bargain his way out of an incriminating corruption trial. That BC Liberal Premier went out the door trailing an 8% approval rating, about average for a gang leader.
In came the new BC Premier, a former talk show host – only in BC and Toronto – who promised not to campaign in favour of the HST but respect voters’ wishes in a referendum.
She immediately kicked off her two year term campaigning for the HST, in the process spending millions on stupid little ads that had stupid little stick people representing the stupid people of BC who didn’t understand how good and wise it is to pay business’ share of taxes on top of their own – even if it does drive down demand in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s.
The Premier and her party got creamed.
So she started campaigning anew for the election, which left little time for running stuff.
The Premier campaigned so hard she didn’t bother calling legislature sessions. Very little legislation got passed and a lot of it was rushed and full of errors, the HST took 2 years to go away, backlogs developed, class sizes got bigger, strikes occurred, waiting lists grew, the deficit grew, the debt grew, BC Hydro was raided, ICBC was raided, we spent half a billion on a stadium roof, filled the stadium with Bollywood celebrities and cut child services. In fact everyone and everything got cut except government executives who got big bonuses for cutting services.
But we did get ads, tons and tons of ads, ten ads a period during hockey games, ads in the Grey Cup, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards, ads that meant nothing and hid the truth and made government members happy and everybody else sad.
We got ads.
Writing this I think I’ve landed on one small truth. The BC Liberal government’s pre-election ad campaign is their signature moment in government. While Clark’s Liberals may not do anything useful in government they sure market the heck out of that failure.
And with that single achievement Clark enters the “unpredictable” 2013 election with a 17 point deficit, the biggest gap since 2001.