Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Former Unity Party leader Chris Delaney blasts carbon tax, BC Liberals policies on BC Hydro, forestry, Basi-Virk case and more

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday March 4, 2008

Carbon tax prompts rural backlash


Like mothers, taxes are often misunderstood, but seldom forgotten.

- Lord Bramwell, 19th century English jurist

Former Unity Party leader Chris Delaney says the provincial government's new "carbon tax" on gasoline may spark the development of a new rural, populist right-wing political party to challenge the B.C. Liberals.

Delaney, who led the conservative Unity Party in the 2001 provincial election, says Premier Gordon Campbell may spark a revolt in B.C.'s Interior as people realize the carbon tax applies not just to gasoline but to home heating and other fuels.

And the populist right-winger is scathing about other B.C. Liberal policies, including privatization of B.C. Hydro, its conduct in the B.C. legislature raid case, the Tsawwassen Treaty and massive cost overruns on the new convention centre.

Delaney said he was shocked by the carbon tax and multitude of new environmental and other bureaucracies announced in the B.C. budget last month.

"Unbelievable! My reaction was - that's enough to make the NDP blush!" he said in a lengthy interview.

Delaney says conservative third parties usually develop with centre-right governments in power. He points to Alberta's Wildrose Alliance that is challenging the Conservative government and said it could happen in B.C.

"To get something going in politics, there has to be a lot of discontent and there wasn't a lot until Campbell did that budget," Delaney said. "I would have said that's a ways off, maybe after the Olympics when the bill comes in, but now this carbon tax has really upset a lot of people."

"You can see right through that it's a smoke-and-mirrors ploy that really isn't going to achieve anything on the environmental side, it's just a tax grab. You start to get people really angry," he said.

"It's not revenue neutral," Delaney added. "And it's not like guys driving a pickup truck on the ranch have any alternative."

And Delaney kept blasting both barrels at the B.C. Liberals.

"The convention centre is going to make the fast ferries look like a cakewalk," he said of the $388 million cost overrun to date.

Delaney calls the treaty with the Tsawwassen First Nation "a big mistake" whose true cost may be more than $1 billion because of the dramatic change in the value of agricultural land being converted to other use.

Delaney says the government has not properly handled corruption charges against former ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk.

"They should have handed the prosecution over to another jurisdiction like Alberta," he said. "The government is in a conflict of interest. How can the government prosecute guys who worked for them?"

Is Delaney interested in running again?


"I always remain open to the idea because I love our province," Delaney said. "There would have to be a groundswell of support for an alternative. If so, I'd consider it."

He said that to be successful a new populist right-centre party would need not only a leader but two or three other credible candidates.

"I do think that at some point there will be a demand for something," Delaney said of an alternative to the BC Liberals. "I think psychologically that's what's happened with this budget."

"If it does arise, it will come out of the Interior, not the Lower Mainland," he added.

Delaney also predicts that like BC Hydro, the BC Liberals will privatize the forest industry, in terms of crown ownership of lands being transferred to private corporations.

"They privatized BC Hydro piece by piece, now they're going to do it with forests," he said.

Delaney said on issues like BC Hydro privatization and the $1 billion sale of BC Rail - which he opposed - the politics cross all political boundaries.

"It isn't left versus right - it's public interests versus special interests," Delaney says.

Delaney, who is active in the film animation and video gaming industry, is adamant that the BC Liberals carbon tax is unfair.

"It's not revenue neutral clearly, as you've laid out in your column," Delaney said, referring to last
week's 24 hours' column. "It's taxing working people to pay for corporate tax breaks."

"It doesn't make a lot of sense politically and maybe it's driven bureaucratically and ideologically," he said, noting there is no SkyTrain and few transit buses in the Interior.

Delaney says Premier Gordon Campbell's many changes in policy positions - from anti to pro treaties with First Nations and from climate change skeptic to environmental crusader are understandable.

"It took six years but I think we're now seeing the real Gordon Campbell," Delaney said. "I think he as a true political orientation and it's called 'liberalism' and it's between good and evil. He's more of a corporate monopolist."

Delaney also had words of warning for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party in BC.

"Stephen Harper is in jeopardy of losing BC to the federal NDP in the next election," he said. "Harper should be winning a majority in the next election but I'm not convinced they done enough to get a majority yet."


Anonymous said...

Bill, I'm surprised that you talked to Delaney. For all intense purposes, he's been out of sight poltically since 2001 and the Unity Party website is a proverbial ghost town.

I would have talked to the other legitimate and on-going right-wing contender, Wilf Hanni of the BC Conservative Party. They even received 12% and 10% of the vote respectively in the Okanagan Vernon and Shuswap ridings in the last election!

As for the carbon tax, it seems that the sheep continue to follow as witnessed by the Environics poll released a few days ago.

55% support and 42% oppose. More interestingly the results are virtually identical for both the "Vancouver CMA" as well as "Rest of the Province".


Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Democratic Reform BC.
Didn't Delaney dabble with dat, too?

Anonymous said...

It's great to hear that Delaney is still around. Hey! somebody recruit that man! Campbell and the Liberals have a real hate on for that guy. Probably because he's smarter than them and exposed their stupidity from the day they took office. And Hanni? Ya right. He couldn't threaten a fly with a swatter. Looks to me like it was posted by RW spouting party line BS.

Anonymous said...

Chris Delaney is from Port Coquitlam and so is NDP Justice Critic Mike Farnworth. And both sound an awful lot alike.

Ahhh, populism at it's finest.

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember Joan Sawicki?
The former minister (in name only) of environment really liked the carbon tax - it was called 'tax shifting' in the olden days - and that's why the NDP establishment did her in.
Now I see the old boys have found a way to turn this issue from an NDP proposal into a Liberal error.
Well done.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Delaney; voters will go to the Official Opposition. Of course, Campbell is on track to re-election because of the economic boom. It is in that context that protest groups could sneak short term victories.

miles lehn said...

In regards to talking to LEGITIMATE right wing contenders. Michael Smith once insulted Jed Clampett by comparing Hanni to Jed. As a member of the B.C. Conservatives I can assure you that there are many within the Party that would welcome both Chris Delaney and Darrell Stinson, former Conservative M.P.from Salmon Arm as contenders for the the leadership of the party. With talk of an AGM this spring hopefully some good people will see the need for a replacement of the current ruling parties and join in the process of building the party. There is hope for the future. Miles Lehn

Anonymous said...

I see Chris Delaney hanging around the BC Conservatives (from their site). There are too many 'shifty' folks including some Campbell 'drifters' around the party at present. I would not give the party the time of day until I had properly vetted for personel and other factors.

I think Chris should stick to Unity 09 and try to build around that. He can play in this league but the folks around him often can't.