BC Liberals playing a dangerous game with ICBC

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Loudmouth BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal appears to have committed the BC Liberals to putting ICBC brokers out of business. In the article where the above clip comes from, Jas comments that by offering online insurance renewals, clients could save the broker share of the costs and pocket several hundred dollars as a result.

This presumes that an online apparatus is free to run (it isn’t), it assumes that no problems would arise as a result (unlikely).

Where does one pick up their insurance decal when ordering online?

But here is the kicker: there is absolutely no evidence that the BC Liberal Government prior to the 2017 handover was planning a roll out of online ICBC renewals. This seems to be another hot-air idea drummed up by overly ambitious BC Liberal hacks seeking out a position merely to attack the NDP with.

This doesn’t assume that online renewals cannot be done; you can do almost anything online. But to retain some buy-in from the industry, there will have to be some sort of check-off for originating brokers to get some residual fee from a renewal.

ICBC brokers charge a fee to resell insurance. Of course they do. EVERY insurance broker makes a percentage or fee from an insurance package they sell – whether car insurance, home insurance, life insurance, or anything. Its how a brokerage exists; those margins define the revenues for these independent brokers to exist…and provide a human contact between insurance company and client.

This latest pseudo-outrage over what ICBC pays out to brokers is a giant #nothingburger.  As a precentage, ICBC brokers change on average 8% back to ICBC as their margin. This is less on average than what other brokers charge for vehicle insurance elsewhere in Canada.

If anything, should ICBC be dismantled and a privatised model take hold, those rates could indeed rise; as would almost every other fee possible. ICBC isn’t perfect, and the upheaval its going through isn’t unlike others in the industry.

What this imaginary fiasco really is, is a distraction as the government is facing legal action by the trial lawyers association over legislated caps to soft tissue damage awards…caps that exist elsewhere in Canada and have withstood legal challenges there too.

I get it, turn ICBC into a phantom enemy so its easy to hate it and legitimise a campaign to destroy it. But the BC Liberals with their 16 year legacy of power saw no urgency in dismantling ICBC; they instead saw an opportunity to use the insurance corporation as a cash cow to prop up their imaginary budget surplus. That is the real scandal.

Sure the BC Liberals aren’t in office anymore and its the NDP’s show. Ok, so let them get it done. The reforms they’re undertaking were the ones originally hidden from public knowledge in the secret report into reforming ICBC that the BC Liberals didn’t want anyone to see. Its a report that highlighted problems *and* fixes.

Its a report that had the BC Liberals retained power, they would be enacting said reforms too.

The BC Liberals are now wasting time attacking the NDP for fixing the thing that the Liberals tried so hard to break and bleed white.

Look, the NDP isn’t perfect as they’re journey in power hasn’t been exactly smooth. But the alternative #partyofstupid is unthinkable.

My2bits

 

It wasn’t politics as usual to call out the ambiguity of Elizabeth May’s social policy flubs

Unfolding in Alberta right now is the full reveal of what happens when a seemingly conservative populist economic reform type party takes power.

Their attacks on all things public commence immediately; healthcare, education, the front lines in public service. But what comes next can knock the underpinning of a progressive society.

The UCP government is backing a private member’s bill that is literally going to reopen women’s health issues in Canada.

Technically, it’s not an official government position. But, conveniently enough, a regiment of hard right social conservative MLA’s just happen to agree with this private member’s bill, and it’s effect may be profound.

How does this affect the Greens you may ask?

Because the two narratives of the “I’m personally opposed to [issue] but would never impose that on women” and “I cannot tell or force my MPs how to vote” are not compatible.

Either you stand up for human rights or you don’t.

The Greens went bizerk at a handout the federal NDP launched in the south Vancouver Island region that outlined Elizabeth May and the Green Party ambiguity on social issues. What the NDP did was to quote directly from May and some of her candidates.

What the Greens pride themselves on is this utopian vision of “no whipped votes”, and the new found culture wars proves this ideal to be dangerously naive.

Except for environmentally conscious social conservatives. They love this right to vote their social conservative views while hiding in a party that pretends to be progressive.

These positions are incompatible for the left. In our view, social justice and environmental justice are inextricably linked, and there is no room in this movement for those who would take away from women.

But the Greens have made them welcome. That’s inexcusable.

In a federal parliament that is now sitting in a minority govt situation, the even harder-right conservative party is spoiling for a fight on social issues too. They sought out social conservatives at the grassroots level and they installed Andrew Scheer as leader.

As Alberta is showing, despite an official promise not to reopen such issues by “The Government”, the caucus is more than happy to unanimously endorse the proposal when offered as a private member’s bill.

Imagine now a strengthened Green Party with its “do not whip votes” greets such an issue.

So to those now call for a merger between the Greens and NDP can probably go pound sand.

Social conservatives and related libertarians have no place in a progressive party.

My2bits

Barack Obama endorses Justin’s re-election

I have no doubt this will lift the spirits of centrist liberals who prop up Justin Trudeau.

But consider this.

Barack Obama campaigned on hope and change in 2008, a generally Liberal agenda, he delivered a mostly incremental upgrade in domestic policy.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were American, I would have voted for Obama too.. especially given his GOP Presidential competition. Slam dunk.

But the centrist liberal incrementalism of Barack Obama gave rise to the popularity of people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among others in veering hard left in a country unfamiliar to actual socialist policies.

I guess what I’m saying is that while Obama’s endorsement may help shore up his base, Trudeau has failed on delivering the progressive agenda he pledged.

Now he will come across as desperate.

Look, I don’t hate the guy, I just think that Justin Trudeau is arrogant and entitled; just as much as his party.

Jagmeet Singh is that leader. He inspires hope, courage and change.

I’m voting NDP.

My2bits

Charter rights are meant to be protected. Unanimously.

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If you’re wondering why the abortion issue has sprung up in this election, it’s because some folks have called out Elizabeth May and the Green Party’s ambiguity on abortion rights in Canada. 

Specifically, the Green Party prides itself on being “un-whipped” when it comes to it’s potential MP’s in that the party caucus won’t force it’s views on individual MP’s. The backdrop here is that several candidates, including from Elizabeth May personally, had been revealed as either pro-life or non-committal about ensuring a woman’s right to make these sorts of decisions freely. Since this all exploded into the open, Elizabeth May has taken a strong position herself committing to pro-choice and that the Green Party has taken an absolute position on the matter. Except that if your party refuses to “whip” it’s representation, any attempt to re-open an otherwise closed legal and private medical issue as abortion is, could be done so by the un-whipped Green MP’s that Elizabeth May wants elected. 

This is not a trivial matter. The right to access abortion services in Canada  was made possible by the Supreme Court throwing out laws that forbade access calling them a breach of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

That is to say, access to abortion is a constitutional right. But laws and regulations could be passed by parliament that could obstruct or add layers of interference with this right. It is imperative that candidates for generally progressive political parties be unanimous in their support of women’s autonomy to make her own decisions without interference from politicians. 

Specifically, the Liberals, NDP, and Greens should have no daylight between them when it comes to women’s rights. Or human rights, since women’s’ rights are human rights. 

Elizabeth May and the Green Party want to have their cake and eat it too. You cannot be both an unwhipped party and be even remotely ambiguous about Charter Rights. 

So when folks charge that Elizabeth May is open to dealing with the socially conservative Conservative Party, there’s a legitimate worry here. Especially when the Green Party leader is only concerned about climate action.

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That’s why this is a big deal.

My2bits

The Greens stunning coup in grabbing former provincial New Brunswick NDP candidates turns to a lemon.

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Read the story: here

You’re a party member that discovers that some voters are racist. Do you defend your leader against this intolerance? Or leave the party because you don’t want to be identified with that turban wearing leader.

Today we found out.

The Greens, already stung by their party leader’s gross misfire in the “corporate restorative justice” stunt where Elizabeth May seemingly flings aside reconciliation and UNDRIP by proposing SNC Lavalin be given a no-bid P3 to rebuild water systems on reserve lands, now appears to be the home of political activists who are uncomfortable with a brown skinned dude with a funny name.

Elizabeth May presumably signed off on this plan, was she aware that some former NDP candidates were not comfortable with the brown guy with the Sikh faith? Jagmeet Singh? She should have told them to fuck off. We don’t want your racial intolerance either.

This is the sort of thing I would have expected from the PPC. This would have made sense. From the PPC. Greens?! Remember when they were pretending to be progressive?

 

No. The Greens are not progressive. This is a move unfit for a party seeking office who wants to hold the balance of power.

Sure, good catch, Green Party. Thanks for taking out trash.

Now wear it like the cynical opportunists you have become.

My2bits

The brilliance of the gas price inquiry

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Looks like Andrew Wilkinson laid another rotten egg; this time in relation to fuel prices.

Oh?

When gas prices spiked to $1.70 (or higher) per litre a few months ago, it triggered the NDP to convene an inquiry to ascertain the reasons why BC’s gas prices were so out of tune with the rest of the country; with an eye towards collusion if it could be discovered.

Well the report came back, and while collusion (between big oil companies) couldn’t be proven, the report did cite the virtual monopoly of only 5 companies that controlled the marketing and delivery of fuel to BC. And something about an inexplicable 13 cent extra that we’re paying in BC compared to anywhere else.

13 cents per litre extra.

That’s not ‘taxes’ either.

Taxes, while significantly higher than the rest of Canada on BC’s regional fuel prices, are probably the most transparent part of what costs go into your fuel tank. At any rate, if one is looking for blame on that file, the NDP increased the carbon tax on fuel by one penny; hardly justification for this price differential.

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Where Andrew Wilkinson has screwed up badly here is where he hitched his wagon to the narrative that the NDP’s fuel taxes are too high while simultaneously ‘blocking’ pipelines. Well the taxes, though higher, aren’t the NDP’s fault, and it was legitimate court action by first nations who have brought delays to Kinder Morgan. I’m not sure the BC Liberals want to instigate that kind of fight.

But in banging that drum, the BC Liberals have exposed big oil, though not necessarily acting in collusion, but acting like a virtual monopoly. That 13 cents per litre is a significant boost to a profit margin, now it has a political defender (at the expense of regular commuting drivers) in Andrew Wilkinson. This is not the position he wants to find himself in; defending big oil at the expense of average folks.

But there is a silver lining here.

In boosting fuel prices thanks to what can be best described as profiteering, its pushing electric vehicle sales, and its making driving less affordable (incentive not to drive); achieving a climate change goal in one fell swoop. Best thing about this? Its completely a market driven result.

Good work Andrew.

My2bits

BC Liberals find new ways to look pathetic over ride hailing

The BCUC approved the ICBC proposal on a basic insurance product for ride hailing corporations ahead of the anticipated September 16 legalization date.

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The BC Liberals found a way to complain about it. The angle? The product is too cheap and other drivers will have to subsidize ride hailing corporations as a result.

This is of course after months of belly aching over the government requiring a class 4 license for ride hailing drivers because it was an expensive barrier to earn a few extra dollars.

But this should come as no surprise from a party that likes to stand on both sides of an issue and would have attacked the NDP no matter how they handled it.

What’s really going on here? The desperate and pathetic flailing by the BC Liberals in frustration as they witness a government getting things done compared to the dithering and triangulation that Campbell and Clark were famous for.

The BC Liberals had every opportunity to enable ride hailing in the last two terms (of the 4 they served) where ride hailing corporations existed. But, no. They went as far as chasing out Uber with legal threats when they began operations without proper authorization from the gov’t.

It was only an 11:58pm conversion in the last few weeks before the 2017 election that the BC Liberals found religion on ride hailing, but even then, they misread sentiment. They still do.

In 2018, a poll discovered that while the public overwhelmingly approved of ride hailing, it wasn’t without limits. They wanted drivers to carry class 4 licenses, wanted limits to how many ride hailers could exist as nobody was looking to put *more* cars onto the already over capacity lower mainland road system.

One of the advantages of waiting as long as we have to get ride hailing off the ground is we get to see what long term trends look like in large cities like Vancouver with the advent of this click-and-ride service.

Studies show that unrestricted ride hailing services adversely affect traffic congestion. So putting a regulatory cap in place on how many may drive for ride hailing corporations would have been wise policy for those cities. Good thing it’s coming for BC.

I’m not saying that I’m in favour or opposed to ride hailing. But if we’re to have it, the drivers should at least play by the same rules we expect of cab drivers they pretend to be.

It’s a newer business model and an alternative to traditional cabbies. But it’s not the answer for traffic congestion or climate change.

Even the Green Party is on the wrong side of history here.

My2bits