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Suggesting Positive Solutions: Carole James At UBCM

October 2, 2009

The Union of BC Municipalities’ annual convention is always one of the biggest shows in BC Politics; politicians of all stripes and levels tend to announce new policies here. BC New Democrat leader Carole James wasn’t an exception; besides highlighting the fact that the BC Liberals cannot be trusted, she announced five BC New Democrat policies:

  1. Protecting the fishery by involving local and First Nation governments while moving to closed containment.
  2. Restoring control of Translink to elected officials instead of officials appointed by the provincial government.
  3. Moving BC’s fixed election date to the fall. This has actually been on the radar for some time, as the current May fixed election date causes major problems with setting the provincial budget in election years. Right now, in an election year, a budget is passed in February, with nobody knowing if that budget will actually be implemented because of a change of government (or because the current government is lying to improve their chances of getting reelected.) Then after an election a budget update has to be created. A fall election would cut down these problems.
  4. Creating an Independent Provincial Budget Officer. Considering that all BC governments from Social Credit to New Democrats to Liberals have manipulated BC budgets to make the opposition look bad and themselves look good, an Independent Budget Officer is long overdue and would ensure that British Columbians are receiving the correct figures.
  5. Establishing a Green Fund. The Green Fund would provide stimulus to the hard-hit rural communities of BC by investing in the implementation of Green technologies and the expansion of mass transit. However, the $150 million a year used to fund this program has to come from somewhere; therefore the BC New Democrats would cancel unimplemented corporate tax cuts. Considering that the BC Government is suffering from reductions in revenue, it makes little sense to further reduce that revenue even more at this point. The Green Fund not only demonstrates part of the BC New Democrats’ environmental vision, it also shows that the they are willing to make tough decisions based on economic realities.

My biggest concern about this speech is the “Us versus Them” tone that it takes. It seems to me that it appeals more to the current BC New Democrat base rather than expanding it. Considering that the BC New Democrats have been receiving above 40% in the last two elections, the priority needs to be obtaining the last few percentage points needed to win government, not working on the already strong base.

But overall, this speech marks a small first step in providing a positive vision for British Columbians that follows the economic and political realities. Of course, much more work needs to be done; a few policies does not make a vision. But there is always the 2009 BC NDP convention.

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