Dear Swing Voter from the 2013 Election Who Voted For The BC Liberals

Dear Swing Voter from the 2013 Election who voted for the BC Liberals,

Hi there.  It’s me.  It’s actually yourself in the future.  I am you on May 9, 2017.  Yes I look a bit older and I’ve put on a few extra pounds (and thanks for pointing that out BTW) but that’s not what we are going to be talking about here…I do remember it so well.  Just like it was yesterday.  I remember on May 14, 2013 you, my 2013 self, walking up to the voting booth in the 2013 Provincial General Election and carefully penciling in an “x” besides my local BC Liberal candidate (making very sure to not go past the line), being very happy about my choice, and then going home to watch the results on TV.   So why did I do it back in 2013 when all the polls said that I wouldn’t?   Well I thought that I would give the BC Liberals one more chance.  Christy seemed nice and I had heard her on the radio, and they seemed to be not that bad after all as everyone had told me that the alternative (the godless socialist hordes at the door) were so very, very much worse.   I believed that LNG was going to lead us all to a prosperous future and I had faith in the BC Liberals managing the economy and the budget as after all, their budgets were balanced and they were pledging to keep taxes low and I liked that.  Moreover I liked what was happening with the schools and Christy Clark’s pledge for an honest and open government.  And so like many of my 2013 neighbours I ended up being yet another 10 second BC Liberal/Socred voter.

Well it’s May 2017 now, and I need to let you know now that unfortunately, my 2013 self, you made a big, big mistake voting for the BC Liberals back in 2013.  Why do I say that you ask?  Oh, where to begin..?

Well, remember the trillion dollar LNG Bonanza that that nice lady from TV said was going to happen?

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Well I’m here to tell you that by 2017 that not a single LNG project has a shovel in ground, drilling is the lowest it has been in 23 years, and the unemployment rate in the Northeast is one of the highest in the Province.  Even more stunning than that, the BC Liberals, who you my 2013 self thought were supposedly such good business people, in horrible market conditions keep double downing on LNG and throwing good money after bad!

Oh and remember the BC Liberals pledge for an “honest and open government”?  Well it turns out that they have been anything but.  There was a huge scandal within the Health Ministry resulting in one fellow actually taking his own life!  Then there was the Triple Delete scandal where Ministry Staff deliberately deleted e-mails so that they would not be available for scrutiny by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  Can you believe it?

And remember that you thought that taxes would stay low under the BC Liberals?

Well in actual fact marginal tax rates have remained generally low.  However incremental increases in various user fees, MSP premiums, insurance rates, hydro rates, etc. have just shifted the burden from overt taxation to hidden taxation in the form of increased user fees with the end result being the exactly same.  Far less money in your early 2017 pocket for your early 2017 family.

And remember how you thought that the BC Liberals were so good about balancing the budget and how important that was in our 2013 household too, that we should live within our means?

Well it turns out that they have only been creating fake balanced budgets by doing fire sales of assets like the land sales on Burke Mountain and by forcing BC Hydro and ICBC to siphon off “profits” from their books to balance the Provincial budgets, all the while overseeing a massive ballooning in debt (see below) which I, your early 2017 self, is now on the hook for! (Thank you very much for that. Thanks for nothing!).  And to top it off almost every project is way, way over budget (oh and not “on time and on budget” as Fassbender will eventually say) and the long-term debt will be getting worse!

And remember how the “Strong Economy” was so important to you?  Well it turns out that the early 2017 “Strong Economy” is actually in shambles and unsustainable despite what the May 2017 BC Liberals are saying.  Massive job losses in other areas are currently being masked by construction jobs in the Metro Vancouver and Victoria fuelled by an out of control speculative real estate market bubble which is pricing out of the market a whole generation of people and on top of that, that bubble is just about to burst (or so my 2021 self has told me).

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And remember all that apparent concern about the environment that the BC Liberals keep espousing?  Well it turns out that the “5 conditions” that the BC Liberals will eventually propose was all outright disingenuous pure political theatre and they never had any intention of standing in the way of any and all pipelines and then they had the audacity to make a huge fake commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses while still pushing LNG!  So much for climate leadership!  And we still have Grizzly Bears being trophy hunted in 2017 as the people running it are big donors to the BC Liberal Party.  And our most vulnerable are literally dying in the streets. Can you believe it?  And people in Shawnigan Lake are having to fight their own Provincial government over the safety of their drinking water!  Seriously.  I’m not making this up!  You just couldn’t.

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And remember all that talk of respect for First Nations?  Well Christy Clark actually stood up at a funeral (no less) and said that she was going to push Site C past the point of return despite objections from First Nations! And Site C?  It turns out we don’t even need the power, that it may never pay for itself, and that we can do it way cheaper by diversifying our economy and focusing on run-of-river, wind, solar, and geothermal projects.

I look around now on May 9, 2017, my 2013 self, and I see that 1 in 5 children in B.C. now lives in poverty and the government who I believed was doing the right thing with teachers back in 2013 it turns out were dead wrong (violated the Charter no less) and continued to be wrong for 14 years causing untold damage to the kids (BTW enjoy your time with the kids now as time flies and they don’t stay little for very long).

Anyway, I could go on and on but the point is, my 2013 self, that this is not what you voted for.  I, my May 9, 2017 self won’t make the same mistake twice.  On May 9, 2017 I will not be another “10 second BC Liberal/Socred voter” like you were as I refuse to make the same mistake that you did again.  Fool me once as they say….Oh by the way, the Vancouver Canucks still haven’t won the Stanley Cup but you probably already guessed that.

Signed,

My May 9, 2017 Self

P.S. Oh and buy Apple and Tesla shares now! I mean it!

 

Have the BC Liberals Actually Been “Strong and Consistent” On Anything?

It has become abundantly clear that the BC Liberals have set on their strategy for the upcoming Provincial election.  Their strategy (which is in many ways is similar to their strategy in the last election) is to pre-emptively try to portray and define the BCNDP and their leader as inconsistent and “everything to everyone”, representing the “Party of No (development)” while at the same time trying to promote Christy Clark in contrast as being a strong leader with a strong/clear and consistent record and message (as above).  But is the latter actually true?  Have Christy Clark and her government been “strong/clear and consistent” or is in fact the opposite true?  Have she and her government been anything but strong/clear and consistent but have been just saying as much to try to convince the voting public (and in some ways their own supporters) that this is in fact the case?  Let’s have a look at a few selected issues over the last couple of weeks and see if that “strong/clear and consistent” claim holds up to scrutiny.

The Famous 5 Conditions For Heavy Oil Projects (well really the 4 consistent conditions and the one that seems to be in flux)

Back on July 23, 2012, to great fanfare the Provincial government announced their 5 conditions to support any heavy oil projects (note that the conditions only applied to heavy oil projects and not their beloved LNG projects another inconsistency really but I digress).  As announced by then Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak and Minister of Environment Terry Lake, the five conditions were:

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The BC Liberals and Christy Clark have repeatedly claimed that they have always been clear and consistent on the 5 conditions (as below).  But is that actually true?

A search for the 5 conditions provided in various news releases and articles since then suggests that, for the most part, the 5 conditions have indeed been fairly consistent.  Yes fairly.  Not completely consistent.  Just fairly.  Why would I say that?  Let me explain.  You may remember that the Premier on November 30th released a statement regarding the five conditions following the Kinder Morgan announcement by the Feds.  I’ve reproduced the statement below.  Notice anything different?  Why yes.  Condition #4 appears to be completely different.  “Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed” is no longer part of Condition 4 in the statement issued by the Premier instead the Premier describes Condition #4 as “Indigenous participation”.

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Interestingly, this is not the first time that the legal requirement aspect of Condition #4 has mysteriously been omitted by the Premier.  In a speech on October 10, 2012 to a special luncheon organized by the Chamber of Commerce in Prince George, Clark described the 5 conditions as follows:

“Five conditions have to be met, three of them are environment, one is about making sure First Nations are participating (emphasis mine), which is an obligation set by the Crown, and then the last is making sure British Columbia gets it s fair share so all of them are equally important and they all have to be met, not just one.”

Remarkable consistent with her November 30th release and over four years apart no?

Now anyone who knows anything about the recent Supreme Court rulings and the results of the case regarding the Northern Gateway project will tell you that ultimately the biggest Achilles heel of the Kinder Morgan project is Condition #4 and that this condition (well the original condition anyway) can likely never actually be met as the same flawed consultation process was used for the failed Northern Gateway Project and that was struck down by the Supreme Court as being inadequate.  Why the Province originally included that aspect of the condition when it was clearly a Federal matter and something guaranteed by the law of the land I don’t know but there it is.

So is it just that the Premier being succinct as some apologists have suggested?  Hardly.  A graphic produced by the BC Liberal Caucus on day prior to the release from the Premier (as seen below) was very succinct indeed and yet still managed to capture the entire essence of Condition #4 (both indigenous rights and opportunities).

As everyone knows, official statements such as that made by the Premier above are gone over with a fine toothed comb.  Was this is the first step in priming the public to garner support for ignoring a critical aspect of one of the original 5 conditions?  Or did the communications staff for the Premier drop the ball on this one yet again as they did in 2012?  Is the Premier’s office at odds with the party over the interpretation of condition 4?  Not exactly sure.  Whatever the reason, have the BC Liberals and Christy Clark been consistent on their Five Conditions?  Well the answer is clearly and obviously no.  Probably best to be clear and consistent if you are claiming to be clear and consistent.  Just saying.

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Before leaving this topic it should be noted that Bill Bennett in an interview in Calgary in July 2016 said that the only outstanding issue was spill response so I guess the legal aspect of Condition #4 has already been addressed according to the Bill Bennett and the BC Liberals right?  Oh and of course nothing shows you standing firm on your Five Conditions and having a principled consistent position more than adjusting Provincial Park Boundaries in advance for the Kinder Morgan project before any decision on the project has been made either Federally or Provincially and before all of the Five Conditions have been met (and then putting out a release afterwards saying that it was not until all approvals and conditions had been met although original legislation clearly did not say that).  See the Legislation for carving up Finn Creek Park that has already been enacted (Bill 25 having received Royal Ascent on May 19, 2016).  Saying one thing publicly and doing something different in the back rooms.  The BC Liberals way. Just another example.

Fentanyl/Opioid Overdose Crisis

You may remember recently that Christy Clark and the BC Liberals came under fire for not following the lead of Alberta and creating their own legislation (like Alberta did) in the absence of Federal Legislation concerning pill presses with local police also calling for the legislation saying that there is no legitimate reason to have a pill press.  You may also remember that back in July that Mike Farnsworth and the BCNDP had introduced a bill banning pill presses but that got caught up in the cancelling of the Fall sitting of the legislature.  So in the midst of the crisis the Solicitor General Mike Morris was trotted out to say the now oft-repeated line that pill press legislation was a Federal responsibility so no unilateral action would be forthcoming from the Province but that if no action was forthcoming from the Feds that B.C. would proceed with its own Provincial legislation in the Spring (huh, read that one again a couple of times, can’t have it both ways except in BC Liberals Land I guess).  Besides, even if there was a ban on pill presses, pill-form fentanyl would just come from outside of the Province said Morris arguing against any kind of local legislation prohibiting any matter of any kind (assault rifles, tactical nuclear weapons, etc.) as of course it would just come from elsewhere anyway (where exactly do they get these people?).  And so, what could have been at least a tangible step to try to help ease the Fentanyl/opioid crisis was ignored.  Skip ahead a couple of weeks and to great fanfare, the BC Liberals decided to open two supervised injection sites unilaterally via a ministerial order because of “Federal inaction“.

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Described as a “major policy shift”, MLA Terry Lake was quoted as saying that, “We can’t wait for federal changes in order to save people’s lives”.  Wait?  What was that again?  So no problem going your own way unilaterally when it suits you politically (when you can sell it as you taking “strong action”) but defer to the Feds responsibility in the case of the pill presses as otherwise it would mean acknowledging that the BCNDP was correct on the issue?  Huh?  Are those the actions of a clear and consistent government caring about the people or governing only through considering what is politically beneficial?  No matter how you slice it the phrases “major policy shift” and “strong and consistent leadership” are clearly incompatible.  Heck the Premier and her government can’t even tell hope much money they spent on the crisis giving three estimates in three days.

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Other jurisdictions have shown strong and consistent leadership by doing what was best for the people first as people were literally dying in the streets (see Alberta), not so much the BC Liberals.  The BC Liberals sat on their hands seemingly not wanting to upset their base or (god forbid) acknowledge that the BCNDP were ever possibly right on anything (on pill presses, etc.).

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Oh yes, and please do go ahead do congratulate yourselves.  Congratulations again for doing nothing when people were and are literally dying in the streets and then taking the credit for the actions of others.  Please do.

And then there was this.  In her year-end interview with News 1130 Clark called the opioid crisis the biggest story of 2016.  clark-fent

Yet when her Health Minister Terry Lake was asked about the “biggest story of 2016” he suggested that no one saw the overdose crisis coming. What?

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Boggles the mind sometimes.  How could his ministry not have spotted, oh I don’t know this trend…

Or read the papers like this article from last year or listened to your own ministry that was warning about the impending crisis three years ago (see below).  That is not clear and consistent leadership.  That is called sitting on your hands.

Premier’s Meeting as Political Performance Art

At the recent Dec. 9 Premier’s meeting on Climate Change Premier Clark told reporters and anyone who would listen that BC would sign the plan as BC had concerns that other Provinces with a cap and trade system would not be able to reach the price the plan calls for by 2022.   This was after of course in September of this the Premier writing in a statement on September 26 that “other’s may choose a broad-based cap and trade system and that’s fine.  We recognize that either system will achieve emission reductions”.  Well that doesn’t seem consistent does it?

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Then at the recent carbon tax meeting she said that it was not OK in its current form and then later that same day after getting assurances that the system would be reviewed in 4 years, an about-face from the Premier occurred with the Premier saying that everything was all good now and saying that she would be signing on to the agreement after all.

The usual BC Liberals cheerleaders were quick to praise her “clear and consistent leadership” even though her position quickly had changed many times (twice in one day in fact).better-grewal

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Those far right observers who originally were quick to congratulate Premier Clark for her “strong stand” for Western Canada along side climate change denier Conservative Brad Wall,

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were quick to see that flip flop in her position and call it for what it was, disingenuous political posturing.

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Moreover it later came out that indeed that the key Provincial ask (a Provincial comparable review of carbon cutting in 2020) was already signed before Clark stepped up to the mike for her disingenuous public performance.  In fact when she went to the podium to announce that she wouldn’t be signing the agreement, there was already an agreement in place.  And her big win according to the BC Liberals cheerleaders (as seen above)?  A single sentence stating that “BC will assess the interim study in 2020 and determine a path forward to meet with climate change objectives”.

Lastly, as pointed out by Gary Mason (of all people),

The fact is, Ms. Clark’s act of bravado on the national stage was a convenient distraction from an ugly truth: Once considered Canada’s climate leader, B.C. is now an embarrassing environmental laggard.” With emissions projected to increase by 39% by 2030 and certainly missing its targets by 2020….“If the province intends to ignore its targets, both in the short-term and long, why be part of some grand plan to reduce emissions nationally?

Indeed.  Rather than actually showing strong and consistent Climate leadership, the BC Liberals just say that they are doing that and hope that no one notices.  The fake nature of their climate leadership announcement has now become both an iconic and ironic “tell” in so many ways.

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So would strong and consistent describe the bizarre political performance art performed by the Premier at the Premier’s conference on climate change?  Hardly.

On a side note, it is interesting to note that the BC Liberals were (and still are) exuberantly celebrating having an independent review of the carbon tax in 2020 while at the same time being so resistant to any suggestion that Site C be the subject of an independent review via the BC Utilities Commission etc.  Again hardly clear and consistent.  All actions by this government appear to be completely inconsistent and completely politically motivated.

Yamamoto’s Letter and Then No Letter Letter 

And there is this.  On December 13, MLA Naomi Yamamoto, the Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, one of those usually at the kids table politically within the BC Liberal government in the made up Minister of State portfolio of Emergency Preparedness, wrote to Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc expressing her and her government’s concern over the closure of the Coast Guard Communications Centre in Comox, an initiative originally started by the previous Harper Government.  It was portrayed at the time as the BC Liberals standing up strongly to protect the interests of BC against those nasty Feds with the Comox Communications base (as expressed by Minister Yamamoto in her letter) being considered part of the “World Leading ocean spill response”, one of the vague subjective conditions required for the support of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (described above).  It didn’t hurt that it fit within the BC Liberals’ declared strategy of trying to expand their seat base on Vancouver Island but that’s another story.  Anyway, two days later it appears that Minister Yamamoto really wasn’t all that serious about writing the letter, that she must have had her fingers crossed at the time that she wrote it, suggesting that it was all a big mistake, and promptly apologized to Ottawa for writing the letter.  Huh?  That’s leadership?  Apparently, either Minister Yamamoto or one of the infinite number of monkeys typing an infinite number of ministerial communications and press releases for the government got it all wrong.  Minister Yamamoto, rather than standing up and taking responsibility for the letter which was presumably signed by her if it left her ministry, hung her staff out to dry and said that the letter was “inadvertently sent to the federal government from her office”.  Now there’s true leadership.  According to my definition, a strong and consistent government does not issue a letter demanding one thing one day only to apologize two days later and then hang your staff out to dry when things go bad, but maybe that’s just me.

Bill 27 Flip Flop: Human Rights Code Amendment Act Changes in Regards to the LGBT Community

Lastly, and then their was their flip flop and the controversy surrounding Bill 27, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act.  Here is a video that eloquently details the flip flop and includes BC Liberals MLA for Chilliwack-Hope (Laurie Throness) empassioned speech against the legislative change to explicitly protect the LGBT community.

Do remember too that despite Christy Clark turning up for the photo-op for the event on the legislative steps (see below)

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that she actually skipped the actual vote on the legislation in order to attend a fundraiser in Surrey instead.  Because you know, priorities.  It should also be noted that despite the smiling faces on the Legislative steps that the BC Liberals had blocked the introduction of similar legislation in the Legislature many other times.

Provincial Debt

Have a look at this video.   In it Christy Clark decries how terrible leaving debt to our kids is.

And yet, her government is responsible for this.  A massive increase in debt that will be her government’s legacy for generations.

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Flip Flop on Taxing Real Estate Transactions 

Then there was the time that Christy Clark in a letter to Gregor Robertson in June of 2015 that there was no reason to institute a tax on luxury housing for a variety of reasons.

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And yet about a year later her government as we now know introduced a 15% tax on foreign home buyers.

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Flip Flop on $50,000 Party Stipend

(Source: Tim Jones, Vancouver Sun).

On January 20, 2017 Premier Christy Clark announced that she would be no longer be taking a controversial $50,000 stipend from the BC Liberals party.  This was of course after she initially denied the existence of the stipend calling it a “car allowance and various BC Liberal apologists such as Jillian Stead suggesting that there was nothing wrong with the practice because it had been that way for a long time (I kid you not) and the Minister of Inappropriate Outbursts and General Chortling, Rich Coleman saying that it was pretty common don’t you know (when it fact it isn’t).  So why the backtracking and flip flop regarding the stipend?  Some have speculated that it was due to the attention locally via Gary Mason and internationally via the Dan Levin New York Times article calling out the BC Liberals for the unsavoury  practice.  I think otherwise.  I think that the polling on this topic was bad and that the BC Liberals flip flopped on their position on it accordingly (not the first time that the BC Liberals govern by polling that’s for sure).  And where were the usual BC Liberals cheerleaders extolling the virtues of so-called strong leadership on this matter?  Nowhere to be seen of course as nothing says strong leadership more than slipping the announcement in during a North Shore Rescue announcement on a Friday evening and then calling it just “a distraction”.  No admission that it was wrong and had always been wrong?  Yeah, right.  Sorry but that’s anything but strong leadership.

So there you have it.  Eight relatively recent examples all showing clearly inconsistent statements and leadership, weather vane politicking, and flip flopping by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.  By just saying that your leader and party is “clear and consistent” or “strong and consistent” just doesn’t make it so.  That may play to your base but the electorate out there (if you haven’t noticed) is angry and not stupid.  They know.  Believe me they know.  And they can see right through you.

The Optics Are Just Bad: Kim Baird’s Night at the BC Liberals Fundraiser

Some rather unnerving social media posts emerged from last night’s big money BC Liberals fundraiser at the Convention Centre in Vancouver.  Unnerving that is for anyone who was holding out any hope that the Federal Liberals’ additional parallel review of the Kinder Morgan expansion project was going to be anything close to being a fair and impartial exercise and not instead just an elaborate “going through the motions” exercise in order to help facilitate an already done deal.  The images emerged from the social media timeline of one of the three individuals selected to be on the three person ministerial review panel selected by the Trudeau Liberals to review the Kinder Morgan proposal, namely from the Twitter feed of former Tsawwassen Chief Kim Baird.  First there was the selfie at the exclusive pre-party with controversial B.C. Liberals Environment Minister Mary Polak, the former book banning School Trustee who was recently on the hot seat over her dismissal of the opinion of 90 academics including many climate scientists regarding Site C “doesn’t meet with reality” and who has been roundly criticized as being a shill for the LNG and fossil fuel industry.

Then there was a tweet regarding the start of the Premier’s speech

and then a rather odd selfie taken with Premier Christy Clark.

Now of course people are entitled to their political opinions and Ms. Baird is free to support (however misguidedly) the BC Liberals or anybody else for that matter.  She is also free to be a big money doner to the party for that matter (see what appears to be her one time $4,500 contribution to the BC Liberals last year below) (Credit:Bob Mackin).

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That said however, to go to and be photographed at a political fundraiser for one of the major stakeholders in the review process (the BC Government in this case) while a member of a specially appointed panel entrusted with impartiality (one would hope and presume) I would suggest shows very poor judgement on her part.  The optics are very bad.  Imagine seeing Annette Trimbee, one of the other members of the Federal Review panel appointed by Trudeau going to and being photographed with BC NDP’s John Horgan at a BC NDP fundraiser, a person who has said that the Kinder Morgan Project is not in B.C.’s interest?  How about those optics?  Or perhaps one of the other members of the Federal Review panel, Tony Penikett, turning up at a BROKE Fundraiser and being photographed with Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan, and/or some other opponent of the Kinder Morgan Project?  What would you say then?  No problem?  Presumably these individuals would show better judgement and not place themselves in those kind of situations.

For those who thought the BC Government’s Five Conditions concerning heavy oil (bitumen) pipelines were nothing more than a disingenuous, insincere, contrived shrewd political theatre (does anybody really believe that the BC Liberals won’t eventually support the Kinder Morgan project, I mean come on really?), the optics presented by these posts surely lends credence to the interpretation by some, particularly First Nations opponents to the project, that the fix is already in and that the review panel entrusted to be impartial will in fact not be impartial at all and will vote in favour of the proposal.  These posts also appear to lend credence to the not-so-muted whispers circulating around certain circles and on social media questioning Ms. Baird’s lack of impartiality concerning fossil fuel pipelines given her past working connections with Kinder Morgan, her prior favourable description of the Kinder Morgan project as being “enlightened”,

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Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada pictured with Kim Baird in 2011 (Source Kinder Morgan).

and her current ties to pipelines and the LNG industry specifically in terms of her association (as a lobbyist /consultant) for the controversial Woodfibre LNG project.  Again, the optics are very bad.  Should Ms. Baird be able to freely express her personal political opinions at all times?  In normal circumstances I would definitely say “Yes”.  However, when you are appointed to a Federal Review Panel, you are actively engaged in the review process, and have been entrusted to review a project (presumably) with complete impartiality, I would argue that it was/is a major lapse in judgement to attend the political fundraiser of one of the major stakeholder in the review process that you are overseeing.  Again, the optics are just bad.  Perhaps she should have shown a bit more  discretion in this case.  It seems to me that Ms. Baird should have given the event a pass, and stayed at home and watched the supplied stream online like the rest of us who can’t afford the seat at the $10,000 a plate Premier’s Table.  In other words, yes Ms. Baird you really probably should have refused that selfie with Premier Clark after all because the optics are/were kinda bad.

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What is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals?

Forestry Priority #1
Christy Clark at the Council of Forest Industries’ Annual Convention in Kelowna, stating that achieving a softwood lumber agreement was her #1 Priority.  Or is it?

On April 8, 2016 at the recent Council of Forest Industries’ Annual Convention in Kelowna, Premier Christy Clark suggested that achieving a softwood lumber agreement was her #1 Priority.  She subsequently repeated this claim several times on social media.  For those following the Premier and her recent speeches and public appearances this statement was (and is) somewhat perplexing and may have inspired more than a few people out there to pause for thought as just over a month ago (in March 2016) when speaking to reporters after her speech at the GLOBE Clean-Tech Conference Christy Clark said that securing federal cash to upgrade the hydro grid between BC and Alberta was the #1 priority of her government.

NO 1 Province

Also perplexing is the fact that a month prior in February, 2016, Clark said that BC’s two priorities are LNG and new softwood lumber accord with the U.S. with the softwood lumber accord being the top priority.  And prior to that, in the BC Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Update published on October 26, 2015, Christy Clark is noted as having said that “the top priority remains the development of LNG in BC”.  This same claim (that LNG was priority #1) was stated by Christy Clark on December 10, 2014 in an interview with two Bloomberg writers in New York.  Also, previously one may remember that during the confrontation with the BCTF in 2014 that she tweeted out (on August 31, 2014) that class composition in BC Schools is Priority #1 because “students’ needs come first”.Clark Priorty 1 2014

In 2014 while addressing the Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce she was quoted as saying that her top priority was the economy.  In 2013, during the election campaign Christy Clark was noted as having stated that fixing schools (doing seismic upgrades) was her top priority with her stating that “absolutely, nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe”.  In 2012 Premier Clark was also noted as having said that job growth was her number one priority.  Also in 2012, the then Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Pat Bell was quoted in a BC Liberal Caucus News Release as stating that “Job creation is our government’s number one priority“.  And in a survey response to the B.C. Trucking Association, the BC Liberal Party stated that the “Number one priority for Today’s BC Liberals is growing the economy to get to a debt-free BC“.

This apparent #1 Priority confusion is not exactly new for Christy Clark too.  On July 30, 2012 at a Women-only gathering hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, Christy Clark is quoted as saying her “My #1 Priority is Liquefied Natural Gas.”  Showing this confusion in the same speech at the same event (no less) she is noted as having said that families must be considered Priority #1 by Victoria.

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Christy Clark at July 31, 2012 Women-Only gathering hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce

Wait a second.  What gives?  What exactly is going on here?  How could all these things be Priority #1?  Is that even possible?  One would think perhaps that a wet behind the ears BC Liberal staffer in short pants could be responsible for at least some of these inconsistencies but more often than not, the Priority #1 claims are coming directly from the mouth of Christy Clark herself.  And what about that the “Families First” mantra repeated ad nauseam by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals during the last Provincial election?  You may remember that after being elected in 2013 Christy Clark was quoted as saying “My top priority will be to put families first” even though the “Families First” mantra quite clearly hasn’t exactly been either followed or is an appropriate slogan for this government.  Where exactly does “Families First” fit it in amongst all these #1 Priorities?   If families are first, aren’t they Priority #1?Families First

It has become a truism in politics that actions speak louder than words and you would be forgiven for thinking that over the past few years that LNG, Site C, running a secretive government (as exemplified by the Triple Delete Scandal), protecting corporate donations to the Liberal Party (as evinced by their recent vote to protect their corporate donations and not ban corporate and union donations), the Massey Bridge fiasco (the publicly funded opening and commercialization of the Lower Fraser River at taxpayer expense in order to facilitate deep sea oil and LNG tankers), underfunding education so that the money could be on pet projects such as LNG and Site C could at various times be considered the #1 Priority for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.  Where exactly are families in that last?  Not first and they certainly are not Priority #1 that’s for sure.

So what can you say about all this apparent Priority #1 confusion?

Well, it appears in most cases that what is stated as being Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals depends on the audience and the situation in which it is being stated.  In practice though it really depending on the perceived political bonus points that could be scored with the audience to which the Priority #1 message is being conveyed.  An evaluation of whether or not saying it could be considered a “quick win” if you will.  A “tell them what they want to hear and hope that nobody notices” kind of strategy.  Could the more recent confusion and shifting of Priority #1 status signify a change in direction policywise and a tacit admission and realization that with the failing fortunes of LNG and no hope in that regard on the immediate horizon that the BC Liberals need to prioritize and rejig their message and downplay the importance of LNG to have any hope of being re-elected?  Not really sure.  Possibly though.

Then what really is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals?  Quite clearly, Priority #1 is to get re-elected at any and all costs.  It is a do anything and say anything free-for-all in that regards where the ends justify the means (as we have seen in the Triple Delete scandal).  Want to ignore WCB regulations to get a photo-op in?

Former Coquitlam-Burke Mountain BC Liberal Candidate Joan Isaacs and BC Liberal MLAs Linda Reimer (Port Moody-Coquitlam), Peter Fastbender (Minister Responsible for Translink), and Richard Lee (Burnaby North) ignoring WCB regulations to get yet another photo-op in.

Sure, no problem.  Want to set up an exclusive photo op/meeting with the Minister of Education, and local BC Liberal friendly school superintendent, and local school trustees and have a photo taken during working hours in your campaign office in front of a campaign sign?  Sure, no problem.

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From left to right: SD43 Superintendent Patricia Gartland, BC Liberal Candidate Joan Isaacs (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain), Minister of Education Mike Bernier, SD43 Chair Judy Shirra, SD43 Trustee Barb Hobson, taken during the recent by-election in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

Want to blur the lines between party advertisements and government advertising?  Sure no problem.  Want to delete anything to do with the business case for the Massey Bridge?  Sure, no problem.  Want to use government resources and campaign on the public’s dime?  Sure.  Want to use public money for political ads?  Absolutely.  At least if Christy Clark and the BC Liberals came out and admitted that getting re-elected is Priority #1 I would at least appreciate their honesty and would actually believe what they are saying.  You know, like when then BC Liberal Candidate Dan Ashton MLA for Penticton stated in 2012 after winning the BC Liberal nomination that “Our No. 1 priority is that we have to see the NDP doesn’t get elected…“.  The actions of the BC Liberals and their supporters over the next year leading up to the next Provincial election will quite clearly reveal what indeed is Priority #1 is for this Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.  Just wait for it.  And don’t be fooled by the last minute money that will be thrown at Education, raises in welfare rates, raises in minimum wage, etc. in an effort to garner votes and favour.  It is all part of what we all know is Priority #1 for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals:  Getting to Yes to re-electing the BC Liberals.  And what about families?  They are “first”, right after all the #1 Priorities.

Edit: I happened to come across a letter written by Rich Coleman to the Major of Fort St. John which continues the storied tradition of the BC Liberals in telling the audience what they want to hear.  In the letter, Mr. Coleman states that “LNG remains the highest priority of the Province” (see below).  Old habits die hard. And the Trumpian “BCFirst” mantra unveiled while instigating a new tax on foreign investors.  Please.  Just more of the same old, same old.

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