Tuesday January 22, 2008
Arrogance can hurt B.C. Libs
BY BILL TIELEMAN
Most of any government's troubles come from trying to uphold the blunders it makes.
The B.C. Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell would seem rather secure with the May 2009 election just 16 months away.
A strong economy, a 10-point lead over the New Democratic Party, unity in the ranks and the 2010 winter Olympics on their way - Liberal life looks good.
But Campbell's Liberals have a sizeable Achilles heel that could yet be their downfall - an endless supply of shameless arrogance. Consider these recent examples.
In a province with a shocking 10,500 people homeless and the highest child poverty rate in Canada, Finance Minister Carole Taylor extends the $570 annual homeowner grant to people with houses worth more than $1 million.
The grant was raised to $570 in 2006. Seniors can claim $845 and even owners of homes worth $1.2 million can get a partial grant.
In a January news release, Taylor's crows that increasing the threshold to $1,050,000: "Will ensure the homeowner grant remains as an important support to B.C. families."
The homeless? Well, they need not apply.
Campbell's former deputy minister Ken Dobell is now lobbying the provincial government despite being investigated by a special prosecutor for possible Lobbyists Registration Act violations.
As 24 hours' Sean Holman first reported, Dobell is helping Cubic Transportation Systems, a transit turnstiles company, get a government contract worth tens of millions.
And despite the investigation, Dobell can lobby any official he chooses and has already contacted Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and the government's public-private-partnerships agency.
Of course, no one would lobby provincial politicians if the B.C. Liberals had not taken over TransLink, the body responsible for all transit in Metro Vancouver, from elected municipal governments.
And the new provincially-appointed, unelected TransLink board of directors announced that all meetings will now be held in secret without the public or media in attendance.
New chair Dale Parker said it is "standard practice" for crown corporations to carry out board meetings in private, even though TransLink is not a crown corporation.
"It's a matter of what can be the most effective process for developing strategic plans and then within it considering the major decisions that have to be made," Parker said.
I guess that's how those responsible for the new Vancouver Convention Centre made such excellent decisions that led to a $388 million cost overrun. And did I mention that Ken Dobell chaired that project's board until last April?
Meanwhile, Campbell personally proved himself no slouch when it comes to arrogance, interfering repeatedly in the independent B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission's work drawing up new electoral districts.
Never underestimate how fast an arrogant government can alienate voters.