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.

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

 

Just Posted

GREEN BEAT: Langley prof witnesses a desperately dry country

The current drought in New South Wales is being called one of the worst ever, B.C. is so fortunate

Still anyone’s game in lacrosse championships unfolding in Langley

Orangeville, Okotoks victorious on Day 2 of Minto Cup nationals at the Langley Events Centre

VIDEO: A few small changes help drive attendance at Saturday’s Arts Alive

Langley art festival brings close to 200 various artists and thousands of spectators to Langley City

Abandoned house blaze worries Langley neighbours

Redevelopment area of Willowby attracts squatters and partiers, and fires fear area residents

Day 1 underway at 2019 Minto Cup in Langley

Coquitlam and Orangeville out ahead after the first day of action at Langley Events Centre

VIDEO: Bubblemania in the burbs

Doggies frolic about when a bubblemaking machine is set to create fun in their Langley City yard

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read