Re: Harsh year ahead for B.C. politics (B.C. Views, Jan. 4)
Tom Fletcher’s column identifies some immediate problems facing the province in 2012, but misses some large elephants in the room.
Mr. Fletcher cites Liberal rhetoric about “personalized education” as an issue, but ignores the thousands of classrooms that exceed mandated class sizes, and numbers of special needs students per class – a curious omission since the courts recently ordered the Liberals to restore the funding they illegally stripped from teachers’ contracts.
The potential $250 million shortfall in health transfers to B.C. announced by the Harper government is a problem. But the no strings deal also means the Conservatives are abandoning their role in protecting and reforming public health care. The Liberals are silent on the new Harper crime bill that could download hundreds of millions in annual costs onto the B.C. justice and corrections system already reeling from provincial cuts.
On energy and environment, Mr. Fletcher supports NDP proposals to fund transit with carbon taxes and to stop transfers of carbon taxes from schools and hospitals to large industrial polluters. But why do these large polluters pay no carbon tax on their emissions? The proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline threatens hundreds of fish-bearing streams in B.C., and our pristine northern coastline, yet creates no more operating jobs than a good-sized sawmill.
A large elephant is the Liberals’ Clean Energy Act, forcing B.C. Hydro to purchase power from private producers at guaranteed prices, most of which will be resold at lower prices in export markets. This reckless legislation also precludes the B.C. Utilities Commission from reviewing these private power projects, the $8 billion Site C dam, and the $1 billion smart meter boondoggle.
The most immediate problem the province should address? Respect voters’ wishes and abolish the HST still punishing many small businesses and homebuilders in B.C.
B.C. NDP candidate, Saanich North and the Islands