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Monday, November 17, 2008

New Sign On BC's Political Road

I know one fellow who is probably not sleeping so good these days. He works in Victoria and lives in Point Grey.
All across the province this past Saturday, voters, though their numbers were small, came out against the status quo, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the election, almost by landslide, of left leaning councils in the province’s two major cities.
On top of that, in most jurisdictions across the province, voters have chosen to toss out their incumbent mayors and councils. While some moved right, most went left.
It may be that we here in BC have finally caught the “change” wave coming out of America. Or it could simply be that, historically, here in BC, we have a penchant for changing lanes every eight years or so, but the sign for the provincial government is clear.
“Dead End.”
For eight years the Socred-Come-Not-Quite-Liberal-Liberals, under the direction of the drunk driving Premier Gordon Campbell, have coasted to victory with their mantra of develop, develop, develop. Only when it has suited their electoral favour have they shown any sign of willingness to consider social and environmental issues. In the process, they’ve clearly become the government of the well healed.
Trouble is, all of a sudden, thanks in part to the global financial crisis brought on by link minded leaders in the USA, the well healed are becoming the minority. No longer is it just the poor and homeless who are against the trickle down theories of the provincial government, but they have now been joined by the “soon-could-become-poor-and-homeless” majority.
For years now the well healed in this province have been shielded from the struggle so many of the less well healed have been facing. In the course of time the provincial government has been able to take a “do-as-little-as-possible” approach to the concerns of the province’s struggling. They have been able to do little things, like give disabled people a $50 a month raise in benefits, and make themselves appear civic minded, or institute a carbon tax, that really only works in the cities, and make themselves appear environmentally consicious. When push has come to shove, they’ve been able to appear concerned about economics by issuing rebate cheques, or issuing minor tax cuts to the middle class.
But all of a sudden, there’s that sign again: Dead End.
For many of us, those with decent forsight, the sign has been visible for some time. It was there from the moment these guys came to office. The good news for us, and not so good news for the current government, is that they are finally seeing the sign. That’s what happens when you’re busy playing with your toys while driving. You miss the important road signs, until you’re either on top of them or whizzing by at too fast a speed.
If Gordon Campbell and his crew are going to keep driving, they are going to have to do a U-Turn on some pretty major issues, or they are going to find themselves over the same cliff they drove off way back at the end of the Vander Zalm era.
Not only are they going to have to do a U-Turn, but they are going to need to put the brakes on, do some serious shifting, and give the toss to some of those folks who’ve been riding for free, before they can successfully turn this car around.
Trouble is, it seems, we have an insomoniac drunk driver at the wheel, and those folks getting the free ride are some of his best friends. They are, afterall, the ones who gave him the car and its keys. They aren’t going to take kindly to him pulling over, dumping them, then heading back to town to pick up those of us he’s left behind. Worse even, not many of us are going to be willing to hop in with him. So, if he’s not really careful, he’s going to find himself all alone driving off a cliff, and everyone is going to be glad to see him go!
All metaphor aside, Gordon Campbell and the Liberal Party of BC, need to wake up, apply the brakes, stop a moment to get their bearings, then turn this car around. They are going to need to do something very real and tangible about healthcare, homelessness, the environment, poverty and a whole range of issues they’ve been ignoring while on their eight year joy ride.
And lets not forget, four years ago more than 50 percent of this province’s voters made it clear they wanted electoral reform, and favoured proportional representation. In other words, while they were willing to give the premier the keys, they wanted him to take a different road all together. He hasn’t, and its led him to where he is today, facing down that new sign.
“Dead End.”
If I were him, I don’t think I’d be getting much sleep either. I only hope in his insomnia, he isn’t too drunk to read.
Then again, I’d just as soon watch him go over the cliff! Afterall, he’s never offered me a ride.

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