You’re kidding me?

I’m reading this correctly, aren’t I?  This is a joke?  A big f****** ironic poke in the members’ eye joke, kind of a Louis CK way of apologizing for the pitiful way “the Team” ran the election, right?

Here’s the subject line on the e-mail I received yesterday:  “Should we just let Christy Clark win?”

And then it proceeds …

“Ian

“I don’t think so, but to send her a message I need your help.

“We spent every cent we could raise to try to win the recent election.  We didn’t win, but we did beat Christy Clark in her own constituency of Vancouver-Point Grey.

“Now we have a democratic duty to provide a choice to the voters of Westside-Kelowna in the coming by-election where she is running.

“But, this won’t be easy.  Christy Clark wants to get a seat so she can be Premier.

“We need this by-election campaign to provide voters with the truth about Christy Clark’s record and the details of her fact-free campaign.

“We need to send a strong message that we will be holding her to account on her promises about balancing the budget and protecting health care and education.

“It is up to you Ian — do you want to send Christy Clark a message she can’t ignore?

“There is a still an opportunity for you to do just that.

This by-election campaign will be hard, but it is only possible at all with your donation of $125 today.

“Thank you for your perseverance,

“Sincerely,

“Jan O’Brien
“Provincial Secretary

PS I love that line, “thank you for your perseverance,”.  I can see the writing process… thank you for your stupidity…. No, that’s too straightforward… Your gullibility… Closer, but still too obvious.  How about perserverence.  It kind of says it without flagging what we really think about our members.

In a funny way it reminds me of what I think the medieval Popes would have said to the flagellants:  ‘Whoa, don’t know why you keep on doing what you’re doing but it kind of works for us, you crazy believers, you.

 

 

Posted in Adrian Dix, BC NDP, BC Politics | 46 Comments

What is to be done

Five days after posting, my little election missive has had over 6,000 page views.  And more than 60 commenters have posted, all passionate and articulate, a great many very angry and almost all calling for change.

I’m happy that Brian Topp, the NDP campaign manager, was one of the commenters.    He is the first to admit publicly that the NDP brain trust made “serious strategic mistakes”.

That admission was necessary but obviously unofficial and inadequate.

As a result of the campaign mistakes, the people of BC face at least 16 consecutive years of a corporatist government whose raison d’etre is the accumulation of wealth for a few with little regard for the many.

People will be hurt.  Our natural environment will be plundered. And regular folks will have to make do with even less. Personally, I expect that most everything that I value from government will come under fire.

And Alex Tsakumis is right.  Watch those around Clark go from apparatschiks to millionaires.  The hands will be well rewarded.

The next four years will be ugly and brutish.  They will make the last two years look like the good old times.

This is not the fault of voters, or non-voters or pollsters or some of the other fall guys people are throwing around.  Responsibility for this rests solely with Adrian Dix and his brain trust.

What went wrong?

In a sentence, Dix decided he wanted to “change politics” more than people’s lives.  And now he will do neither.

Only politicians and wannabes want to change politics (that includes me).  Voters and non-voters alike want to see change in their lives. Politics makes up very little of their lives – a thought or two a month, maybe a vote every few years, often not even that.

Regular folks want their lives and the lives of their family members to be more prosperous, more healthy, less stressful.  They want more opportunities and fewer obstacles.  They want those who have to take less from those who have too little.  They want government to help them and not obstruct.

They rarely think about politics and politicians except to say that that politicians have generally got it pretty good and why do they fight so much?

Going into the election these people were very pissed off at the BC Liberals.  They saw them as a bunch of liars and cheats who were looking after their own instead of the province.

They were right.

All they wanted was a government that put them first again, would stand up for their priorities and clean up the mess left by the old bunch.

If the Dix campaign had spoken to New Democrats and potential New Democrat voters contrasting the government’s record with those voters’ needs, Adrian Dix would be premier.

Instead Dix spoke about his own interests to the wrong voters, neglecting any critique of the BC Liberals.   Therefore he isn’t.  Premier, that is.

In fact, I would argue that neglecting the critique of the Liberals means he is so damaged he never can be Premier.

What is to be done?

I see enormous obstacles but a clear path to a win in the 2017 election (God, that date sounds terrible).

Change

The first step is change.  The BC NDP needs new leadership who will stop thinking about their own needs and start listening to the needs of the voters, particularly the ones they have now and the ones they need to win.

Unfortunately, Adrian Dix is not that leader.  He’s badly damaged and now lacks the credibility to change. He has also shown that he is too intransigent.  Over the past two years he did not listen to advice and concerns about his campaign.  Through the election he was slow to recognize when the concerns turned to serious problems and was unable to bring himself to change the plan enough to perform better.

I don’t believe he’s changed.  But what I think isn’t really that important.  What is more important is that the NDP doesn’t have the luxury of waiting around to see if Adrian Dix can change and then demonstrate that to potential voters.

The BCNDP needs to make change now.  More of the same even for a short time means the party isn’t interested in listening and is comfortable with losing.  The BCNDP needs an interim leader and a leadership contest sooner rather than later just to show that they get it.

Restore the critique.

The second step is to step up the opposition game.  The BC NDP blew 12 years of government criticism, a referendum defeat and the resultant 20 point lead in the polls.  They need to get that back.

That means rebuilding a critique of the current government.  That’s hard work.  It requires putting resources into opposition research and spending less on caucus members’ various and currently useless policy whims.

It also means having a plan and a message.  Does this new caucus notice how the Liberals have a message about the NDP that they repeat over and over?  Do they notice that it works?  Do they have the discipline to recognize they need the same?

If they don’t they will never win.  And if they don’t want to win, they are in the way.

Find your voters and speak to them about their issues not yours

The third step is to start figuring out which voters they need to win and how to reach and engage them so they turn out and vote.

I always wondered why Christy Clark changed her mind on the HST referendum and decided to run a government campaign in support of keeping the HST.

But then I thought about the important role played by Campaign Research in both the HST campaign and the BC Liberal campaign.  The voters key to Liberal success in this election campaign voted for the HST in the referendum campaign.

From the HST campaign and the data they gathered, Campaign Research knew where to find potential Liberal voters and how to reach them.  Getting those voters to turn out disproportionately in a low turn out election was critical to the Liberal’s success.

Dix’s team went the opposite route.

More women vote for the NDP than not.  They are critical to NDP success and tend to be interested in health and education, in kids and their future.  This time around the NDP ran on economics and pipelines.  They ran a guys campaign, for and about guys, by guys.

They abandoned women and women abandoned them.  Smart women, not-so-smart BCNDP.

From the polls, the NDP knew going in that more voters were on their side than not in this election.  But either they weren’t interested in finding them and talking to them about the issues and messages they care about or worse, they didn’t notice they were failing.

The NDP campaign actually drove the down the NDP vote about 3%, almost 10% of their 2009 result.

Lots of modern techniques exist to figure out how to change that, how to find voters and engage them.  But going into this campaign you couldn’t teach an NDP strategist a thing.

I’ll bet anything that the platform was never tested with target voters, that ads weren’t tested and there was no mechanism for engaging our voters in an unbiased, ‘let’s hear the good and the bad’ way.

If there was a danger it would conflict with their campaign plan, the campaign leadership didn’t want to hear about it.

It seems to me the Dix campaign didn’t just think it didn’t need to listen.  They were afraid to listen because they couldn’t bear any dissent.  That’s not a way to win a campaign.  It’s also not a way to govern.

Hopefully someone is listening now.  If not, welcome to 20 great years of BC Liberal rule.

Posted in Adrian Dix, BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics | 36 Comments

Take it from the Topp

Last night I got this from a friend in the campaign.  It’s from NDP Campaign Manager Brian Topp to his campaign staff, although it was sent through Jan O’Brien rather than directly from the KoolToppGuy himself.

His letter makes one thing clear.  This man isn’t taking any of the blame for the worst major campaign ever run in this province and arguably in the country.

From: Jan O’Brien

Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 1:02:35 PM

To: All Staff – Canada Way; All Staff

Subject: FW: The morning after

Sent on behalf of Brian Topp:

Dear colleagues,

This isn’t the note I was hoping to write to you this morning, and I am very sorry indeed that that’s the case.

So let me get right to it: this heartbreaking result had nothing to do with the work of our campaign team.

Stop right there.  “Had nothing to do with the work of our campaign team?”  Just think about that for a second.

“Nothing?” As in not at all related? Or completely separate from?

“Nothing?”

Would you say that’s the right word?  Not me.

The wrong campaign. The wrong strategy. The wrong ads. The wrong polling.  The wrong debate prep.  The wrong emphasis on social vs. mass media.  The wrong get out the vote strategy. The wrong…

Isn’t it simpler to ask, just what was right?

Now, while this makes me very angry, I do get what Topp is trying to say.  He’s saying:  ‘Thank you for your work. You worked unbelievably hard and did a good job.  And with such a disastrous result – amongst the worst in Canadian history – few will recognize your contribution.’

Topp should then have added, “the disastrous result had everything to do with the leadership of the campaign team.”

Here’s the letter Topp could have and should have sent to his staff:

‘Many of you worked in the centre of the 2009 campaign and in the space of four weeks took us from 13 points back to 3 points down, with momentum.  You did that with half the staff and a quarter of the money we had this time.

‘Last time you helped run a campaign that defined the Liberals.

‘This time I ran a campaign that didn’t lay a finger on the Liberals and allowed them to define us.

It also failed to inspire people to vote for us.

‘Because of that the Liberals took a 20 point deficit and turned it into an election day rout.

‘You’re still as good as you were in 2009.

‘The difference was the leader and me.  Our strategy was a disaster.  It was experimental and founded on naive and delusional fantasies about politics. We let you down. Just as we let the party down and the province down.

‘For that I apologize and promise I will never darken your door again.’

Posted in BC Politics | Tagged | 68 Comments

Prediction time

I’m terrible at predictions, always letting my emotions run amok through the fields, leaving my reason bereft in the ditch.

So today, I use a few tricks such as stealing my base from threehundredeight.com and augmenting it with my own thoughts, leaks, gossip and reviews of other blogs like Alex Tsakumis’ and the inestimable Gazetteer .

I think Eric Grenier does a very good job approximating Nate Silver.  I may disagree with some of his weighting and like all aggregators he misses some of the local politics, personalities and peculiarities but he’s smart, his methodology is sophisticated and he’s been in the ballpark all along.

With that said I think he’s low on the NDP seat count and high on the Liberal’s.  So I’ve made some adjustments.

Some general ideas about today’s vote:

Motivation counts

There’s a strong vote for change and they’ll get out.  The people who are mad at the Liberals are really mad.  If my polling station is any example they voted early and would have voted often if they could have.

On the other hand government supporters are kind of meh, don’t you think?  (unless they have a job playing fartcatcher to a mediocre minister) You have to think that these Liberal voter, especially those returning to the fold after hanging with just about anyone else possible can’t be considered highly motivated.

The Liberal vote remains inefficient. 

When you’re looking at your core plus a few this is particularly true.  Look for the places where residents make over a hundred grand a year on average and count up the seats.  Not so many, right?

I think this will make the biggest difference in the Okanagan and the lower mainland where the Liberals will take fewer seats with bigger majorities than necessary.

Independents are not trending

My call has a higher number of independents but that’s more about name recognition than anything else.  And where independents are running they hurt Liberals – except in Cariboo North where Bob Simpson will lose to the Liberal.

Here they are:  My predictions

NDP 54

BC Liberal 27

Independents 3

Green Party 1

Here’s where I disagree with  308.com:

  • Peace River North:  Arthur Hadland Independent
  • Prince George MacKenzie: Bobby Deepak, NDP
  • Kamloops North Thompson: Kathy Kendall, NDP
  • Vernon Monashee: Mark Olsen, NDP
  • Penticton, Richard Cannings, NDP
  • Oak Bay Gordon Head: Andrew Weaver, Green
  • Comox Valley, Kassandra Dycke, NDP
  • Nechako Lakes, Susan Skidmore-Hewlett, NDP
  • Abbottsford South, John van Dongen Independent

Other interesting, close fights include: Parksville Qualicum, the two Chilliwacks, Boundary, Shuswap, Kamloops South and Prince George Valemont.

Prince George and Kamloops like having government members and Cabinet representation.  Chilliwack has strong NDP candidates and the loss of George Abbott weakens the Liberals in Shuswap.

If everything breaks for the NDP they could possibly hit 60.  If no breaks happen then 308’s prediction looks about right.  Mine is a middle case.

And finally on polls.  I did this for a living for long enough to have great appreciation for both the science and the art.  I particularly like the innovation Angus Reid has brought to the on-line experience by replicating the ballot as faced by each respondent.   To me that can only increase the accuracy, by more accurately mirroring the choices each respondent has and eliminating votes that aren’t real options.  It’s no surprise that they got the same margin twice.  Going out on a limb I think that 9 pt. spread will closely mirror the result tonight.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail | Tagged | 6 Comments

A vote for and a vote against

I’m a partisan.  I’ve been a New Democrat since I heard Dave Barrett speak about our province and his vision for it in 1972.

But for crying out loud, please shoot me if I ever turn into one of those non-questioning, all-power/all the time Liberal robots who post on the Globe comment boards.

Is there a place where these people go to have their brains redone? Is there an assimilation process?  Or does it just happen over time, kind of like calcification or Alzeihmers.

Generally when I read a paper on-line I like reading the comments more than the stories these days.  It’s one of the great things about the internet – the reporter is finally not immune from argument.

But there is something about these crazed Liberal war-room generated comments that makes me fearful.  These are the voices of people who brook no argument. Who listen to no reason.  Who believe only they deserve to rule, no matter what they have or have not done.

It doesn’t matter if their facts are wrong, if their logic is deficient, if their history is made up, it’s my way or the highway.

This Liberal campaign belongs to those ideologues.  It’s built on lies and rhetoric.  Truth and record have been banished.  Policy and plans have been thrown out the window.  It’s the fairy tale right versus the dragons of the left.  All ideology, no substance.

That’s because the reality of their government over the last twelve and especially four years is just too terrible to look at.

That is the number one reason to defeat them.  If after all the lies and deceit, scandals and corruption, bad policy and missed targets, arrogance and lack of democracy, if after all of that we re-elect this Liberal government we don’t deserve better.

So yes, for our own self-respect we should defeat the Liberals.

But we should also elect the NDP.

If there is one thing I can’t stand about my party it is our self-righteousness, the kind that always ends up talking about a “moral victory”.

Moral victories are the only kind of victories the self-righteous win.  We told the truth.  We fought the good fight.  It would have been wrong to do what we need to do to win, we mumble.

Blah, blah, blah.

Elections aren’t about us.  They are about people.  And we need to listen to them to win them over.

If we win this time it’s not just because the Liberals deserved to be defeated.  It’s because we cut our cloth to fit the electorate.  We listened to what they had to say about us and we adjusted.

In the stupidest endorsement ever the Globe this past weekend called the BC NDP “socialists” which is correct in the same way that the BC Liberals are Nazis.  In other words, not at all.

That’s a good thing.  British Columbians aren’t as insane as their politics.   They actually seem to want reasonable, decent government that taxes people responsibly and spends money carefully on things that are important to the general good.

The Liberals haven’t done that for a good while.  They deserve to be defeated.

The BC NDP has presented a leader and platform that seems to capture that sentiment.  There is a nice modesty at the centre of the plan, which fits the times.  It shows the NDP listened and deserves to be our government this time around.

This is the last time I’ll ever get to cast a ballot.  Like a right proper citizen I’ll feel very good voting against the Liberals and voting for the NDP.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

The Red Light factor

I’m out of the country and off the internet more than I’m on it – a ‘get away from the cancer’ trip – but I logged on last night and read the Sun interview with Christy Clark.

And I have to disagree with Adrian Dix on this one.  This is a matter of judgement and we should reflect upon this incident as we vote in two weeks time.  In fact, I think that this might be the most significant thing to have happened in this, so far predictable, campaign.

Is there a person who didn’t read Fowlie’s piece on Clark, get to the part about the red light, and immediately think that this person isn’t fit to be premier?

And I don’t mean that in a comical, we got ’em sense. I mean it seriously.

BC’s premier – yes, the fact that she is our Premier says something about us – sat down next to a reporter and engaged in a game of chicken with her ten year old son.

There is no way this was ‘off the cuff’ and not intended.  There is no way that she did not know this would make the story.  In fact, there is no way she didn’t know that this would be a centrepiece of the story.  And finally, there is no way she didn’t intentionally involve her ten year old son in this caper.

This isn’t just bad judgement on the part of ‘our Premier’.  This isn’t just a ham-fisted way of drawing attention to her ‘loving’ relationship with her child.

This is the act of someone who is so self-involved that they are incapable of judgement.  We’ve all known bad parents.  Clark’s game of chicken, acted out in public with her kid, puts her up there with the worst I know of.

Her little trick is  unforgivable and needs much more than an apology.

So Dix is wrong.  We should not accept her apology and let it go.

We should carry into the voting booth the image of our premier debating the merits of running a red light with her ten year old son and then making the choice to run it, all for the benefit of a story in the Saturday Sun.

And we should take with us the clear understanding that this is not the kind of person we want making judgements about our lives and the lives of our family members for the next four years.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Selling the Stadium? Can’t come soon enough.

Good on Adrian Dix for belling the cat that is BC Place as currently run by the BC Liberals.

BC Place is the end repository of hundreds of millions of tax dollars that provide little or no public benefit and it is time somebody asked the simple question: Why?

Why is the BC government running a stadium? The BC Liberal government is clearly doing a very bad job of it.  Overpromising; $365 million for a roof and not a dime of public money, and under-delivering; $514 million, big deficits and not a dime of private money.

And, for that matter, what about the Convention Centre? A 100% overrun to build it and no one will say how many empty days, except the deficit seems to keep growing.

It’s a damn good thing BC Place stadium and the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre will finally be forced to justify their existence as the final resting place for these large government subsidies – tens of millions yearly.

The truth of the matter is that there is probably little reason for the provincial government to be in the business of running Vancouver’s two biggest circuses.  The public benefits are highly debateable and there certainly are greater needs for the scarce public dollars that currently go to the subsidy.

Still, Christy Clark went out of her way to trash the idea the second it came out of Dix’s mouth.

“It’s not leadership and it’s not responsible to decide you’re going to pull numbers out of thin air and say that you want to privatize government assets that first of all, aren’t surplus and second for which you don’t even have a buyer,” Clark said, from a campaign stop in Sicamous.

But isn’t that exactly what Clark’s government did when it declared it was going to sell off an undisclosed list of public assets for the purpose of raising $800 million for it’s ‘not quite balanced’ budget.

One very real reason Clark’s against Dix’s idea is more likely the long list of dirty tricks BC Place is hiding in PavCo’s corporate books.

Another is the fact that Dix’s announcement is one that we’d expect from a party friendly to the private sector, a party that’s willing to get government out of businesses that it should not be running.  Dix is making the kind of arguments the BC Liberals are supposed to be making.

With this and Clark’s foolish response, Dix ends up looking like the guy who knows what the business of government is and isn’t.

Or in other words, Dix ends up looking like a Premier, Clark like the confused wannabe.

 

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, Christy Clark | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Money & politics: a must read

Knock me over with a feather.  Gordon Hoekstra in the Vancouver Sun has a must read story today.

If you want to know the how and why of BC Liberal politics read the Sun’s story on Corporate donations.  Then you will know, not quite all, but almost everything.

It’s a sad thing but the truth of the matter is that the story shows what we all kind of know – government under the BC Liberals is pretty much a “pay for play” system.

Like most banana republics if you don’t cough up some dough you don’t get some action.

Corporations gave the BC Liberals, according to Hoekstra, $46 million since 2005.  That’s about 60% of all Liberal donations.

The top 20 gave $10 million or almost 25% of the total.

Why?  “The companies are circumspect about that,” Hoekstra says, adding that they say they support the BC Liberals business oriented policies.

And of course that’s the problem with all this.  Nobody believes them.

The average person – even if they vote for the Liberals – can’t tell whether the money follows the decision or the decisions follow the  money.  The average person, even a believer, thinks that, at best, its a bit of both.

At worst, of course, money determines everything.

And the evidence is that they are right.  The Quebec corruption inquiry unveils new evidence each and every day about how and why money rules.

Here in BC, a BC Rail inquiry will likely unveil similar stories.  As Alex Tsakumis has reported, wiretaps gathered during the police investigation reveal BC Liberal officials seeking and getting government action in response to business donations.

Now I believe it is important to nail the bastards.  I believe – like the criminal code believes –  it is wrong to pay a government to do your bidding.

But more importantly it is time to break the connection in the voters’ minds between money and government.  That’s what lies behind declining electoral involvement.

Why vote?  Why vote when your vote really does little to determine who gets what?  Follow the money.  And why vote when the money tells you what is going to happen?

The Sun story is one important piece of the puzzle.  But it leads to the inevitable question: What are we to do about this?

The only real answer is to take the money out of politics.  All of it.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark | 5 Comments

Week One: the campaign double standard

The double standard is in full swing.

That’s my conclusion based on the first five days of campaign reporting.

Christy Clark is allowed to skate away from all content and glad hand through events with a mouthful of shaky “messages” while Adrian Dix is criticized for not having every policy detail nailed down beyond the usual standards of credibility.

Palmer today neatly sums up the media attitude towards the campaign as we near the end of the first week, attacking Dix for announcing a scientific review of fracking:

“One of the more cunning moves by New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix is his rejection of a moratorium on fracking in the natural gas sector while promising a full-blown scientific review of the process if he wins the election.

Palmer calls Dix’s strategy cunning, because “Dix gets to have it both ways. He placates the environmental wing of his party with the promise of a scientific review. He placates supporters of the development of a liquefied natural gas industry by rejecting a moratorium.”

Except that’s simply not true.  A scientific review does not placate environmentalists on this issue.  They want a moratorium now and they’ve been very, very clear about that.

On the other side, the oil & gas industry have made it clear that a review is the last thing they want right now.

Fracking in its modern application has changed the face of the entire energy industry, moving the US from a net energy importer to a potential exporter.  Here in BC fracking is the basis of the emerging LNG industry.  The oil & gas industry doesn’t want anything to mess with it. Hence their opposition to a fracking review.

So Palmer is wrong when he says a review is a way of keeping both sides happy.

But there is more to this than a political strategy.  There is the policy debate.  What is the right thing to do now – environmentally and economically?

Palmer attacks Dix for substituting a review for a decisive policy statement on a fracking moratorium.  But Palmer avoids the real issue – there has never been a comprehensive study of the application of various fracking methods (there’s more than one) to BC’s diverse geography.  If there were to be a moratorium, we can’t really say why.

The reverse is also true.  We can’t say with any degree of certainty that fracking is a safe, benign practice in BC.

Every province with a gas field potentially accesible through fracking technology is in the same boat.  Some have reviews under way.  Most don’t.  The American EPA has launched its own review, very similar to the one the BC NDP is proposing, because congress is in that same boat as well.  It’s a crowded place.

The real policy issue here is that we have two sides in complete opposition to each other and no information upon which to judge what is the right thing to do – a moratorium, a partial moratorium, regional plans, better regulation and stiff penalties or just continue with the current practices etc…

Neither Dix or Clark has the information to answer that because the work hasn’t been done yet.  But I think it’s fair to say that Dix’s plan is more like a strategy to keep both sides unhappy while doing the work necessary to develop good policy.

I think Palmer knows that.  But like a lot of the campaign media this week in this column he seems more interested in setting Dix up than reporting the real story behind an issue like fracking in BC.

What about Clark?

She wanders around BC claiming this campaign is about debt versus spending, despite a record that shows she has generated more debt in her short two years than any Premier in BC history.

Has she been asked about that?  Not so much.

But she should be because there is troubling news on the debt and deficit front.

Yesterday, in an under-reported story Central1 Credit Union downgraded its forecast for GDP growth in BC from 2.2% to 1.5% this year.  It also downgraded next year’s forecast.  This came on the heels of a Canada wide downgrade from the Bank of Canada.

Why does this matter?  Because the Central1’s new forecast is lower than the forecast in the Clark budget, you know the “balanced” budget.

And what does this remind us of?

The 2009 pre-election budget that went from a $495 million deficit to a $2.8 billion deficit over the course of an election campaign – a small detail missed by the media that resulted in the HST.

Now I may be overstating the issue or understating it… But isn’t it worth checking out?  Shouldn’t someone ask the debt warrior Clark what impact the GDP downgrade will have on the 2013/14 and 2014/15 budgets and the whole imaginary debt slaying plan?

Or am I just a worrywort?

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, Christy Clark | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

The unpredictable election

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.57.22 AM

The 308.com election prediction as of April 16th available over at threehundredeight.com

Four weeks.

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.

Quelle suprise!

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark | 16 Comments