Gordon Campbell

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The BC Liberals are H-iS-T-ory

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

A few folks fuming over fiscal fudgery

Photo Credit: News1130

My how the wheels of Justice spin quickly when they need to.

Reading comments in various sources today, it seems to me that the Liberal Government is pretty much sunk over the HST issue. It’s game over. Gordo, throw in the towel. You lied to us one time too many.

Truth to tell, as Value Added Taxes go, the HST is not so bad. So long as neither government raises their portion, 12% tax across the board is manageable. Yes, it will be inflationary for a year but we’ll all get over it. So if it had been presented to us before the last election, I would have probably gone for it.

But the Liberals were less than up-front with us, the voters, over a lot of things in the last election. The budget was looking to be more-or-less balanced with a mere four hundred million dollar deficit. Not bad considering that the Olympic bill was in the budget. The Canada Line was done. The Port Mann Bridge bill was starting to run up and the Sea-to-Sky Highway tab was in too.

“No worries”, said the finance minister as we went to the polls. “HST? Never!” scoffed the premier. And then it all changed, literally the day after we had voted this bunch in for another four years.

Jeepers, the books weren’t in such rosy condition after all. “Rosy” was hardly the word for it. “Blood Red” was more like it, and the sanguinous ink has long been flowing “Liberally” from the books. With their majority a mere three days old, the provincial government was approaching Stephen Harper for a bail-out. Despite the adamant statements by the premier in the election campaign to the contrary, the HST was suddenly on the table.

“But if we mentioned the HST during the election, people wouldn’t have voted for us,” or something to that effect, whined Colin Hansen, our-soon-to-be-former finance minister. You are correct, sir. You would have had to deal with the outrage from the electorate over the most non-transparent financing scheme this province has ever seen over the Olympics.

You would have actually had to be accountable for the sham that was VANOC and the IOC’s fiscal Font-That-Spilleth-Over. But at least you would have been honest about the mess we’re in: a mess you Liberals alone are responsible for.

And Colin, to use the “But if we told you before the election” defense merely confirms what we suspect all along; that it was at least discussed sometime, somewhere, before the election in cabinet, if not in caucus.

Yes, people would not have voted for you but believe me when I say this: You made your bed and it was damned well time you slept in it.

The whining aside, could it be said that Hansen’s lament was along the same lines as “An election is no time to discuss policy,” once retorted by Canada’s most short-lived crash-and-burn prime minister, another Vancouverite Campbell… (a coincidence? a harbinger?)… a Kim, to be exact.

Yes, it could be so said. Both governments were bankrupt- literally. Both had spent themselves drunk and both had introduced the whole concept of the GST/HST. Both avoided taking on serious issues during the election- issues that might have cost them votes.

The similarities end there though.

The Progressive Conservative government had nothing to lose. The stench from the leadership of Brian Mulroney was more reviled than bottled water from Chernobyl. As it was, after the election there were all of two members left, down from its initial majority of 211 out of 282. Joe (Who) Clark and Elsie Wayne were all that was left. A little “debate” might have saved a seat or two. Maybe.

But here, the provincial Liberals were destined to win another term. If only they had been straight with the voters. If only they had stepped up to the microphones and said,”Folks, with the Olympics we’ve had a hell of a party. You were right- it was expensive. Here’s the tab… and here’s how we’re going to pay for it. Bring on the HST.” They might have lost a few more seats. But they would have held on to a majority. They would have done it honestly and had their cherished HST fair and square.

And I- and many others- would have kept our names off the petition.

But as it was, we were lied to. Plain and simple. There’s no wiggle room here.

This is why the Liberals deserve every kick in the proverbial teeth they get now.

They have lost the confidence of the electorate on a money bill. Forget the Initiative. Heck, forget the Legislature. The legitimacy and moral right of this government to govern is lost. Even the role and responsibilities of the Legislature delegated to it by the province’s population have been revoked.

How pathetic- our entire democratic system held up for judgement in court, the Legislature’s opposition politicians there cap-in-hand- supplicants all of them-before a single judge and holding their breath for days, over some sue-happy business coalition’s motion to quash it all. How utterly, miserably, sad that our democratic system is reduced to this.

The government ought to resign, the Legislature dissolved, and a general election held.

But that won’t happen. The government will soldier on, now under the threat of recall- and I’ll be there to help out in that campaign. And so, when the next election does come along, it will be interesting to see who of the caucus survives. Most did after the BC Rail sell-off lie so no doubt they’ll give it a good college try.

And why not? The Official Opposition is just as toothless and illegitimate as the government. Since the population did what it had to do out on the streets by itself, it showed that the opposition is just a bunch of johnny-come-lately opportunists and that the Legislature is completely irrelevant when it comes to taking on these banditos in Victoria. The Establishment on both sides of Leg in this province ought to be relieved there is no Bastille waiting to be stormed.

Don’t expect the Official Opposition to be calling for an election. No siree. Wouldn’t want to unleash some of your very able blood-hounds like Farnworth and Krog on the Liberals and upset the delicate brownie-and-greenie balance inside the coalition of ‘play-nice’ sycophants you’ve managed to placate, would you, Carole?

How disgraced I would feel today if I were a provincial politician no matter my colour. A pox on all their houses, thank you. And a rousing cheer for the People, the real heros in this debacle.

And so as court cases go, this was a decisive win for the anti-HST crowd, and a decisive loss for the Liberals and all those who support them- especially those who tried to derail the petition in court.

But the court win was no win for Democracy. Instead it was a judge, a sensible one for a change, who decided to get the hell out of the way of this freight train. He realized that if he were to try to stop it, who knows what kind of People’s Rage the courts might have had to endure. Judges aren’t viewed too kindly in this province already for their milque-toast verdicts and sentences these days.

As an aside, it must be observed that if only in this fleeting moment, we saw revealed in the stark light of the courtroom who is the real coalition behind this BC Liberal government. Too bad for the business coalition, relying on such a corrupt and inept bunch of pathetic losers that is their government to do their bidding, that they had to come out from the cloak of darkness to take on the Zalm Forces themselves.

Oh no- As an afterthought does this mean that BC’s de facto Opposition Leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is really back? Like, for real? Is he going to try to be ‘preeeemier‘ again? Wouldn’t that be fantaaaastic?

Ugh. Let me think about that one and get back to you.