Friday, October 29, 2010

What will be left after the Liberals?

I don’t know if you lived in B.C. back when we were actually building community services instead of tearing them apart, but I did.  I was one of the taxpayers helping fund it all.
So how am I supposed to feel as that same taxpayer, watching all that investment be dismantled because we’ve got a short-sighted, self-interested political party at the helm with some very sketchy ethics?
People, what are we doing here? Please tell me we’re not actually prepared to just sit back in seething silence until the next provincial election in 2013. I think I might have to move away if that’s the case, just to stop my head from exploding.
What gets me the most is the sheer arrogance of the decision-making in the last couple of years.  A colleague recently reminded me that the same arrogance gripped the New Democrats in their final term, so maybe it’s just what happens when parties get to believing their own myths.
The government’s active role in the potential ruination of community services is ever-present on my mind at the moment. The funding levels and service structure for social care are changing so fast in B.C. right now that it really is like the Wild West out there, and I think I can say with certainty that no one has any idea where it will all lead.
Dressed up variously as “transformation” and “greater community integration and independence,” the government is flailing around for savings by dismantling, starving and squeezing services that in some cases have been in place for decades. With no social policy to guide cuts and changes, it’s essentially snipping random holes in the safety net, with no predicting where things will fall out.
But even if you don’t give a hoot about social issues, there’s a lot more to worry about when it comes to the B.C. Liberals.
The Basi-Virk stuff, for instance.
First you’ve got the high-flying guy in government who thinks it’s OK to take a $50,000 bribe from a developer wanting property taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Then you’ve got the very government that bred a guy like that telling us we should just accept their word that the bribe had no effect on the decision, and never mind that the land did indeed get removed from the reserve.
Then you’ve got the $6 million payoff to cover the legal fees of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, a decision reached by government mere days before a number of high-profile witnesses were to testify about how much the government knew.
And then to insult us with the explanation that government covered the legal bills because it was clear Basi and Virk could never afford to pay that amount back. How kind. This from the same government that will relentlessly grind people on income assistance to pay back $20.
Before Basi-Virk, there was the HST. I’m not so much bothered by the tax itself, because the work I do keeps me up close and personal to the problems that have resulted from the relentless drive to lower taxes. But the lying definitely offends me.
Finance Minister Colin Hansen - a man of integrity, I once thought - almost had us believing that government hadn’t considered introducing the HST until after the 2009 election.
When the media put the lie to that statement after finding an email from the federal government to Hansen sent two months before the election, the finance minister just kept up the Sergeant Schultz defence of knowing nothing. It was as if sheer repetition alone could make us believe.
I’m sure it must be very difficult to be government these days. People howling at the door for services, less money to go around.
But how is any of that helped by starving services that prevent much bigger, costlier problems from developing? And why should I believe anything the government says on that front or any other now that I know that bribes, lying and the paying of hush money are part of the way it does business?
It bothers me a lot that when the bill for failed social care finally comes due years from now, the B.C. Liberals of the moment will be gone and their pivotal role in the tragedy overlooked.  It bothers me more to see our province in the hands of a government that feels so little respect for the people.
I don’t know what the answer is. But it sure isn’t about waiting until 2013.

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