Tuesday May 22, 2007
NDP blew its chance
By BILL TIELEMAN
Oh I used to be disgusted,
And now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.
Politics isn't fair.
If they were, the B.C. Liberals would be burning in political hell for giving themselves an obscene pay raise last week for a minimum of 29 per cent and up to 53 per cent for Premier Gordon Campbell.
And they wouldn't be able to sleep at night after voting in a gold-plated pension plan worth 37 per cent of their salary - one that will pay Campbell $2.2 million through age 80 and some others more than $1 million.
Instead the Liberals laugh their way to the proverbial bank while the New Democrats come out both poorer and electorally kneecapped.
Amazingly, NDP MLAs put the pistol to the patella themselves. And it may cost them not only the $29,000 raise they will give up to charity, but also the chance to form government in 2009.
That's because they just couldn't turn down the lucrative pensions proposed by the Liberal-appointed commission of wealthy professionals, even after NDP leader Carole James said her MLAs would reject the whole package.
James was right all along. And had the NDP run a province-wide campaign against the pot of gold plan they could have killed it. Even if the plan passed, they would be in excellent position to trash the B.C. Liberals through the next election.
But the NDP MLAs couldn't do it - they wanted the pension plan themselves.
When 24 hours' Sean Holman exclusively reported that the commission had changed its recommendations without the approval of one of the three commissioners, the NDP had a golden opportunity to kill the proposal.
Commissioner Sandra Robinson said the recommendations were changed when she was in Europe and that she had "quite a few" disagreements with them. The NDP should have gone crazy about a tainted report and abused process.
Instead, not one comment. NDP MLAs refused all media requests for interviews and said nothing about it in the Legislature.
So while Campbell is a greedy hypocrite who successfully campaigned to kill the previous pension back in 1996, the NDP MLAs have managed to get him off the hook.
They've distanced themselves from their own lower- and middle-income voters, people who will never get a pension worth up to millions of dollars, and who will never make the $76,000 MLAs already make that puts them in the top 10 per cent of taxpayers.
As Elvis Costello concluded:
"But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain / that's when I knew that I could not refuse."
And so the NDP angels' wings have rusted.