A hopeless BC politics wish list for 2014

Here are a few things I’d like to see in B.C. political life in the coming year, but won’t

The last two B.C. legislature spring sessions have been a mad rush to push laws through with minimal debate.

The last two B.C. legislature spring sessions have been a mad rush to push laws through with minimal debate.

VICTORIA – Here are a few things I’d like to see in B.C. political life in the coming year, but won’t.

An orderly schedule of legislature sittings, one in the spring and one in the fall.

I canvassed this topic with Premier Christy Clark in our year-end interview, and got the usual runaround about how it’s always been optional since old Gordon what’s-his-name set the schedule of sittings and elections more than a decade ago. Spring is for the budget and MLAs sit in the fall if they need to discuss legislation.

They need to all right, but what governments want to do is ram it through as fast as they can, so that’s what they do. The last couple of years of this have been a sham worthy of a South American banana republic, with three chambers running simultaneously and opposition members trying to prepare as they run down the hallways.

It leads to mistakes in new laws and adds to the public’s cynicism about the whole business, but it gets things done with minimum exposure of the government to criticism. Stephen Harper would approve.

A political debate about real issues

That’s as opposed to the standard competition to score points in an endless election campaign. I appreciate that this is hopelessly naive, but setting aside enough time to consider issues could, at least in theory, lead to that happening occasionally.

Certainly the hastily staged mock combat of our legislature today isn’t winning new friends for any political party. The main growth area today is people who have given up on the whole thing.

An opposition with ideas

The B.C. NDP will have another leadership contest in 2014, and they’d better bring more modern policy to the table than they had in the last one.

Remember the big issues in that pillow-fight? Me neither. I had to look them up. Health care? Local organic carrots into the hospital food. Forest industry? A job protection commissar to force the mills to stay open. Resource development? They’re for it, unless you’re against it.

These guys need a Tony Blair-type makeover. They need to be for something, and they need to leave the past behind.

Media that care about more than conflict

News organizations are in bad shape these days, and the competition for a rapidly fragmenting audience is having some ugly effects.

One thing that needs to go is obsessive coverage of who’s winning and who’s losing. If the news media are going to be interested mainly in the gaffes and gotcha moments, is it any surprise that’s what politicians try to provide?

The Canada Post announcement that it has to wind up home delivery offers a recent example. Is it really so outrageous for the CEO to suggest that walking to the corner is good exercise? When there’s a 24-hour news cycle to fill, it’s a scandal!

How many people know that Canada Post’s unfunded pension liabilities amount to $6.5 billion, as it continues to pay a dwindling workforce to hand out mostly advertising flyers? Should they just keep doing that until they run out of cash? Are taxpayers really expected to maintain another two-tier service that’s only available to selected urban people?

Facts to go with opinions

Whether it’s the government’s fantasy figures on job creation or the opposition’s arithmetic-challenged child poverty claims, serious problems can’t be understood, much less solved, without defining them accurately. Submitting government advertising to scrutiny by the Auditor General to make sure it is accurate and non-partisan would be a good place to start.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter.com/tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read