Tuesday February 13, 2007
BC Liberal Throne Speech today – what it should but probably won’t say
By BILL TIELEMAN
As usual for all political parties – the throne speech will be full of platitudes and worthy goals but lacking in details or commitment.
And while Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnola delivers the speech on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, our official head of state, it is the backroom boys and girls in Premier Gordon Campbell’s office that actually write it.
All indications are that Campbell’s government will have lots to say about the literally hot topic of the environment but here’s what the throne speech should – and almost surely won’t – say:
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“As we begin a new session of the British Columbia Legislature, our province is experiencing untold wealth but also unparalleled poverty.
It is deeply shameful that on the streets of every major city homeless people beg for spare change, sleep in the doorways and suffer needlessly when our economy is so robust.
We can easily see why homelessness has more than doubled - my government made draconian cuts to social assistance in our first term that reduced eligibility and benefits for our poorest citizens.
The Ministry of Human Resources budget alone was slashed - expenditures dropped from $1.93 billion in 2001-2002 to $1.37 billion this past year.
This has been a terrible mistake and your government apologizes for it.
Concurrently, this province will also reverse course to again become a leader in building social housing, so that no one need be without a warm, dry and affordable home regardless of their income.
To partially fund this work, we will introduce a sliding scale reduction in the provincial homeowner grant – so that those living in houses with values approaching $1 million will increasingly help those without shelter.
Many of the homeless on our streets are suffering from drug addiction. This government will begin a new initiative to dramatically boost drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Our promise will be that any British Columbian who wants to enter de-tox will be able to do so within 48 hours of making that decision.
This promise will not only be compassionate, it will be cost-effective. We pay daily for property and other crimes committed by the addicted.
And the health care costs of those who are addicted, including those who contract HIV-AIDS, hepatitis and other serious illnesses are both significant and avoidable.
We have made many grievous mistakes – today, we begin to correct them.”
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Wouldn’t that be nice?