BC Liberals are no bridge builders

Expect the BC Liberals to demonize the NDP over the Massey ‘tunnel’ replacement, but remember how morally repugnant that party is and the politics they played beforehand. Every word spoken by them must be taken with several grains of salt.

Its true that politicians play a blacktop politics game; as in ‘vote for me and I’ll build [thing]’, usually some major infrastructure. But that wasn’t necessary in 2001 as the BC Liberals strolled to power against a weakened NDP and needed to promise very little outside the platitudes they’ve failed to live up to since.

But, infrastructure is needed. BC has aging bridges and highways that need replacing. The oldest one being the Pattullo Bridge connecting north Surrey/Delta to New Westminster. It was opened for business in 1937. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Port Mann Bridge which was originally opened in 1964. Guess which the BC Liberals decided to replace? Not the older, Pattullo Bridge.

The idea wasn’t without controversy. It was to be an expanded, 10 lane bridge; build under the BC Liberals preferred P3 model; with tolls. Public Private Partnerships were preferred by the BC Liberals because it kept the debt load off the provincial books, even if taxpayers ended up paying more under this framework.

Well the deal fell through and the BC Liberal government was forced to use the traditional model of financing, keeping the toll.

By keeping this toll in place, the BC Liberal government forced a significant uptick on the already over-capacity Alex Fraser Bridge and the pre-WW2 Pattullo Bridge; triggering traffic jams like nobody had seen before.

These are the clowns who built the Sea To Sky on another P3 model, but using ‘shadow tolls‘ to pay the consortium who built the project and its their model for the (now cancelled) Massey Bridge project.

This is what the BC Liberals will try to attack the NDP over, and while crossing the Fraser River through the ‘tunnel’ is a pain in the ass at the best of times, the NDP has likely saved taxpayers a tonne of money so that a more transparent project may be done.

The BC Liberals never built a Pattullo replacement bridge because it wasn’t politically expedient to serve traditional NDP leaning seats when they could drop in a mega-billion dollar project in some swing seats they needed to keep.

These folks are desperate to get back into power…and will say anything to do so.

My2bits

BC Liberals afraid to face voters

I’ve noticed something.

BC Liberal partisans are simultaneously trying to scare voters that this election isn’t necessary because its dangerous to vote while downplaying the pandemic to argue that the election isn’t necessary.

Why would they do that?

BC Liberals don’t want an election because they’re afraid to face voters. Voters will see a party with the same ideas, the same insiders and the same philosophy that left so many behind.

Instead of picking a sea-change leader, they chose in Andrew Wilkinson the most elite and out of touch insider possible. The months and years ahead will require bold changes that the BC Liberals are incapable of doing.

They offer the same tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and service cuts for everyone else. We can choose to go backwards to the era of taking care of the 1% as the BC Liberals do, or we can move forward with the NDP.

My2bits

Voting now isn’t ideal, but waiting is worse.

Once you get over the relatively early election call, you’ll come to the same conclusion. Its about choices. Revert back to the party and leadership brand that hurt BC’s most vulnerable, destroyed the BC forest industry, bled the life out of BC Hydro and ICBC for political gain, and attacked educators and healthcare workers in unions who are 80% female in demographic composition. Or keep moving forward from that 16 year legacy of destruction – with the NDP.

I’ve made it clear that I don’t generally want a snap election, but having one doesn’t dissuade me from my vote – or who I will vote for. In fact, this gives us the opportunity to crush the BC Liberals like they rightly deserved in 2017.

Do it.

While I appreciate the Green Party choosing to side with the NDP in the early days just after the 2017 election, the unique circumstances that gave us this minority parliament are a one-in-a-million and not likely to repeat themselves. I understand that it could have gone the other way. Chances are that this arrangement isn’t going to happen again; it will either be a BC Liberal or an NDP majority government.

Of course, all hasn’t gone to plan…and sure, no party is perfect. Nobody could have predicted a global pandemic that would disrupt our way of life, but here we are. Which goes to the next point.

There are some who would have argued against an early election because of the pandemic, and I hear your point. You are saying that there is a major infection risk to large groups gathering (to vote, I assume). But let me tell you this: ElectionsBC, the non-partisan agency that manages provincial elections, has been working closely with the Provincial Health Office to plan a mitigation process so that voters’ risks are slim to none.

Expect generous early voting opportunities and expanded absentee/mail-in options. The bottom line is that voting in BC will be as safe as ever, and given some recent examples of fuckery happening south of us, free from interference by one side or another who would rather you not vote – or not allow your vote to count.

Yes, it sure seems that we’re on an upswing in covid19 reported infections in BC. While we have done very well in managing the pandemic provincially, every sign is pointing to an unavoidable second-wave. So lets try on a thought experiment:

  • Should we have had that election three months ago when case reporting was lower than it is now?
  • Should we wait until later when caseload reporting is explosive and we’re risking another shut down?
  • Should we go now when its safe and under the close guidance of the public health office?

I’ve been monitoring the debate publicly, and there’s some surprising correlation between those who demand their businesses (night clubs, high capacity venues, etc) be allowed to open up with exemptions to the safe opening rules – and those arguing its unsafe to vote.

‘but its too early’

This minority parliament has survived longer than almost every pundit suggested. That its lasted three-and-a-half years is pretty good. The fact that most minority governments last less than two years, BC can take a bow.

With all the safety precautions in place, voting by mail, etc, to *not* vote would be its own choice. With grave consequences. I point to the example (also) south of us of what not-voting could produce. It gave America a Donald Trump presidency, and may do so again.

The BC Liberals are not any better than the broken version of the party they were in 2017. They are worse. They chose as leader one of the worst examples of the 1% elitist ruling class they could have picked. They said the quiet part out loud. Andrew Wilkinson has consistently proven himself to be the champion of the Howe street elite with zero regard for what goes on in your town, or main street.

What’s worse, is Andrew Wilkinson is no outsider. He was party president of the BC Liberals when Gordon Campbell came to power in 2001; moved on over to government payroll as a deputy minister shortly after. He’s been a lobbyist to pressure government policy, then was a lawyer suing government on behalf of big tobacco when he was outside government.

Then he ran for a seat, became a Christy Clark cabinet minister and later Leader of his party.

While there is nothing illegal or technically wrong about Andrew’s political career path, he cannot at all claim to be any sort of brand renewal or offer any ‘fresh start’. Especially when he’s already signaled his campaign priorities will be massive tax cuts for the rich – exactly where Gordon Campbell left off.

This is the narrative that got Campbell his majority too. But the tax cut flowing from this promise produced the worse non-pandemic related deficit in BC history and led to a decade of cuts to funding to the most vulnerable in BC with service fee increases for everyone else. For the ‘average people’, their tax cut largely evaporated.

No, the NDP are not perfect, and that wouldn’t change in a majority government either. People are allowed to not-be perfect and this is a fair standard for our political leadership too. But I will happily choose to re-elect that imperfect-but-trying NDP government than one that is willfully harming the citizens its pretending to govern under the BC Liberals.

We cannot go back.

My2bits

Green leadership campaign brings out the odd

It was inevitable that the BC Greens, mid leadership contest, would turn against themselves and what they signed up for by agreeing to the CASA deal that ousted the 16 year BC Liberal government in 2017.

Where we’re at is watching the Greens pick apart SiteC, the northern dam being constructed along the Peace River; on costs.

No consideration have been made for the Green Party’s support for ‘run-of-the-river’ projects and their equivalently problematic risks to the environment.

Run of the river and the IPP contracts foisted upon rate-payers are a scandal that will cost BC dearly for decades to come.

The hill to die on for the Greens was apparently the notion of ‘card check’ unionization, meaning that if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union membership cards, the certification would be granted. An idea supported by former Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

In the terms of the CASA arrangement, SiteC was to be examined by the BC Utilities Commission and they would submit a report on its viability.

Remember that on the left, it was highly unpopular among the activist class to build such a monolith on the Peace River as it threatened viable agricultural land, ran afoul of area First Nations, was very expensive (and likely to run well over its budget), and questions raised on the need for such a project.

But, opinion wasn’t unanimous. In fact, yours truly wrote an opinion piece shortly after the approval ‘to continue’ with the dam. I wasn’t on board either, and its still makes me grumpy.

But things have changed.

  • Its not getting any cheaper, and such a project is mired in construction complications; moving a river is no small feat of engineering.
  • Its still compromising to some productive agricultural land.
  • A deal has been struck with one of the area First Nations, that while it doesn’t imply an endorsement, takes an important step to reconciliation missing from the initial planning of the dam.
  • Major investment initiatives and subsidies to encourage more electric vehicle purchases, requiring more hydro usage.
  • Vaunted massive alternative energy generation do not yet exist in numbers needed to offset a cancellation of SiteC, and will likely have serious cost implications akin to IPP’s and the run-of-the-river projects they link to.

While its true that there a relatively slow demand increase of hydro, it still does increase. Wouldn’t a dramatic increase in supply guarantee lower prices and safeguard supply? Of course it would. Especially not being bound as much to seasonally useless supply spikes created by RotR projects.

The problems with BC Hydro aren’t exclusive to SiteC. Last decade’s tinkering of the operations of BC Hydro by the BC Liberals did serious damage to the viability of the Crown Corporation. By forcing the utility to borrow money to give to the government in the form of ‘dividends’ while deferring this racked up debt along side the red ink drawn up in building SiteC.

SiteC still makes me grumpy, but given the time to think this over, the project might win me over too.

And I’m not alone either. When it was announced that SiteC was to continue, a major polling firm conducted a survey to gauge opinion in BC. What it found was stunning. That BC Liberal supporters were overwhelmingly in favour of completing SiteC was not surprising, learning that a plurality of NDP *and* Green voters did too – well that took my breath away.

The project was hotly debated in the 2017 BC Election with the Greens vowing to halt the dam, the NDP promising to have it examined by the BCUC and the Liberals would finish the dam without delay. When the ballots were counted and the BC Liberals were only two seats ahead of the NDP and in a minority government, the Greens had every opportunity to make a deal with whomever they wanted.

They sided with the NDP and the ensuing CASA deal that ensured the parliamentary survival of the newly formed NDP minority government on confidence matters (such as a budget or certain legislative initiatives. Scrapping the dam was not part of the deal.

So its strikes me as odd that now, in the middle of a BC Green Party leadership contest that SiteC has come up and they’re targeting the NDP will all their rage at the continuation of the dam construction…and they’re citing costs.

Ok. Costs are going to suck, I’ll grant you that. So lets talk about the costs of halting the project and tearing it down. If you drop $15 billion on the project, then add another $5 billion to remove it, you have a $20 billion monument to stupidity.

No asset.

What about contract cancellation fees? There’s got to be billions extra in unknown costs that would be charged up – or sued out of the provincial government for such an idiotic choice. A choice still being pushed by the Greens I might add.

Look, we’re into an era of extraordinary costs brought on by covid19 based delays and business shut downs; tens of thousands of people are still without work as the economy slowly restarts. These unforeseen events will add billions of dollars in debt to the provincial books; everyone knows this.

But in the era of ‘lets get through this’ (together), cancelling a major energy infrastructure project will unnecessarily throw 3-4 thousand workers out of their jobs and add billions of dollars of new debt to the books without any assets or new revenue to pay for it.

You don’t have to like SiteC to support it. I don’t. But, lets get it done and add it to our supply matrix for energy and be done with it. Finishing the dam doesn’t mean you can’t explore other ways to produce more renewable energy, but it means that we have to do this better.

We still have time. Do we have the will?

My2bits

Sometimes the Left doesn’t need an opposition

Do you know how narrative works? Because we’re going to get a hard lesson in narrative.

The George Lloyd murder and subsequent widespread protests against police brutality. For the record, I am in full support of all of these peaceful protests; but reject any and all violence and vandalism/looting. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The calls for reform to American policing (and elsewhere) are strong; and justified. The increased militarism of some forces, lack of proper training – especially de-escalation, added with some long standing failures of civic and government leaders to address long standing poverty and racial inequality issues has led to this moment. Again.

Lo and behold: #defundpolice.

I’ll just remind readers that I am fully in favour of policing reforms; every community large and small deserves a well trained police who maintain the peace and are active in their communities. We’re not there yet. A militaristic approach to peaceful protesters is a warm breath away from the Banana Republics we’re all pretending we’re opposed to. I didn’t see any riot police or national guard patrol or harass crowds gathered to demand hair cuts. (covid19)

But, “defund police”?

Here we get to a serious divide between rational left, and stupid-left. To take the hashtag at face value, some are arguing that police forces be abolished and their funding be wiped from budgets. Surely that’s not what they mean, right? Well not exactly, its a meme around ‘police reform’.

Cool. So why didn’t you say so?

Because on cue, opponents of the left have seized the moment and now argue that THE DEMOCRATS want to abolish police by defunding it. Its false, and Joe Biden has been forced to pivot to deny that narrative.

But you can guess who’s gonna run with it.

Donald Trump.

Of course he is. He’s trying to pin the Democrats and Joe Biden *as* ANTIFA, who now want to abolish police forces in America; risking the health and safety of Americans..it might work.

What some Canadian bloggers and far left activists don’t get is that the layers of Canadian political themes don’t apply in America. The NDP and Green Party of Canada have no parallel in America. Democrats would position themselves just right of the Liberal Party of Canada and Republicans would be somewhat right of the Conservative Party of Canada. NDP/GPC would be off the map. So attaching our narratives to the American political realm is out to lunch.

I hope that the lions share of voters dismiss this as a stunt. There are consequences to having Trump in office for another four years; one of them being a further militarization of police, crushing of first amendment freedoms to state a couple risks. Joe Biden is a flawed candidate to be sure, just like Hillary Clinton was; and as flawed as the Barack Obama Presidency. But the shortcomings and flaws of Biden et al, are far superior to Trump *delivering* on his agenda.

Weaken Biden means to Elect Trump.

my2bits

Trudeau plays his conservative opponents like a fiddle and they’re too stupid to realize it.

From the hyperventilating going on, you’d think that Trudeau has outlawed all firearms.

He hasn’t.

He’s done the thing that so many Canadians mock Americans for: banning of military grade weapons. Included on the list you’d find RPG’s and rocket launchers. Here’s the list.

Outrage.

What he is guilty of is exploiting another crisis to do this, but that’s Trudeau. But in doing so, he’s managed to bait a lot of people into taking on Trump-like NRA/Republican talking points. Y’all stepped right into it.

How embarassing.

Trudeau always wanted to campaign against a Trump-like irrational group think. Given some of the reactions so far, you’ve played right into his hands.

Now he gets to run on a polarizing issue while nobody is talking about his various other failures.

How embarassing.

Coronavirus and its silver lining

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Look, there has to be a silver lining to the outbreak of a major pandemic in this modern age.

I don’t mean to make light or joke around at anyone’s expense; there are real people who have died in this pandemic – made worse by the actions (or lack thereof) of powerful leaders.

In watching the worlds’ nations reaction to #coronavirus, some nations are reacting swiftly, bringing all resources to bear, others – have different considerations.

We have seen some countries at first deny a problem exists, then ignore science, then ignore emergency protocols because their primary concern goes to the economic impact of the disease.

We have also seen places act proactively when given proper information, grant full disclosure and transparency, act with a life-preservation motivation at every step.

The first model is a politically driven response which attempts to mitigate financial and/or political fallout from any panic coming from the pandemic, while the other model puts aside the politics/money and mobilizes government resources and tools to whatever extent necessary.

The first model is being used by America and some European nations, the second is being deployed by Canada, most Asian jurisdictions and elsewhere. The first being a generically right-wing model, the second is a generally left-ish response.

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Guess where you’re finding the problems? Not on the left.

In fact, in a crazy sense of irony, the left wing approach may save the right. By using the full weight of government action, public healthcare and generally being proactive, the significantly larger cost up front may be the most efficient way to navigate this disaster.

Inversely, the right-wing model, loaded with its layers of political and fiscal policy tests, is proving no match for a virus that doesn’t give a shit about policy. So we lurch from willful ignorance to overreaction causing various financial markets to crash – in a world where markets are particularly sensitive to instability.

So what do the capitalists do? Unload $1.5 trillion into the markets to give it a jolt and make it better. It lasted 15 minutes and evaporated faster than rubbing alcohol.

Here’s the bottom line.

We’ll get through this, some places will fare better than others. I for one, am grateful for our public healthcare system that places patient-care above profits. For all of its flaws, this is a far superior model to one that is profit motivated and subject to the politics of the day.

Let doctors and healthcare pro’s do their jobs. Listen to first responders and civil authorities. Don’t over-react but don’t take chances either. These are uncharted waters for many. Whatever economic slowdown may happen as a result will be followed up with a recovery, and hopefully, positive change.

Hang in there everyone, we’ll be ok.

my2bits

CGL Pipeline debacle is a progressive values test.

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The trouble with the CGL pipeline is that you can make a compelling progressive argument either side of the proposal. Something that nobody anticipated.

To be sure, there are many complex layers in this debate, but the fact that its happening in live-time has brought out unprecedented protests across the country; blockading railways, harbours, marine transport, and several government offices.

To be clear, I’m not a lawyer nor am I of First Nation’s lineage, so my view on this is just that: an unprofessional opinion.

Make no mistake, the right wing is united on this. They’re rallying behind the law-and-order flag calling the protests illegal and demanding that politicians interfere with police and the enforcement side of things.

They have it wrong too.

Protesting, demonstrating, whatever you want to call it, is a protected right under our constitution. The line crossed between a lawful, peaceful assembly of folks highlighting causes and an illegal act is a determination made by a judge when asked to order an injunction: this is not a right granted to armchair pundits. So stop it.

As it turns out, nothing is clear and obvious about the pipeline proposal and the Wet’suwet’en (re)action.

The quick glance tells us that 20 elected first nations along the proposed route have given their blessing to the project while a handful of hereditary chiefs reject the idea. The 20 elected band councils cover 100% of the region, if we’re keeping score.

It was this simple look that CGL got its permission slip and required permits to begin this pipeline.

Not so fast says the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en.

Sure enough, digging deeper into this, there are layers of complex court rulings that have given rise to the protests we see today.

The compelling narrative seems to be the lack of consent regarding the proposed route as it drives through sensitive Wet’suwet’en lands and heritage sites. It opens up wounds around the colonial treatment that our First Nations have been treated with.

Competing with this narrative is an environmental one that takes a stand against the 30k job industry in BC. While natural gas as an industry isn’t without challenges or concerns, there’s a problem with the narrative that the Wet’suwet’en are against the CGL pipeline because they’re opposed to the NG industry: its misleading.

You see, consent was implied for a different routing of the pipeline that was eventually ruled out by CGL. It immediately begs a question: if the Wet’suwet’en were so anti-natural gas, why would they suggest an alternative routing of a pipeline that they would have approved of?

Why would the Wet’suwet’en suggest an alternative route for CGL? Because they’re fully aware of the Supreme Court decisions that give them a major role to play here; and to grant them this alternative routing would have been the very kind of reconciliation event that everyone wants to showcase long before it was coined as a popular phrase by politicians.

It also proves that the Wet’suwet’en leadership (elected and hereditary) aren’t unreasonable people, they were more than ready to do a deal; that they were plugged into the needs of their peoples.

The CGL Pipeline wasn’t proposed yesterday or last week, this is a multi-year project in its application phase. The decision to approve the CGL Pipeline as is was done in 2014 while Christy Clark was Premier in BC and Stephen Harper was your Prime Minister.

We get to this to this current crisis because of activists of the Wet’suwet’en in setting up road blocks and checkpoints along the access points within their territory that made it impossible for CGL to perform any work on the pipeline sites. As a result, CGL sought out and won court injunctions that required these activists to step aside and allow access by CGL to its work sites. Essentially to let the pipeline project proceed without the consent of the Wet’suwet’en. So this was done, by police, acting with an enforcement order.

That’s when the progressive world exploded.

It is a valid left wing argument to support unionized, family supporting high wage careers in resource development. Jobs that pay very substantial levels of taxes that support public healthcare, education, highways and the social safety net. Jobs that will also directly benefit the various first nations who have been on the suffering end of the economy for generations.

It is also a valid left wing argument to support a continued evolving reconciliation process that empowers first nations to come to full treaty status, gain full equality and shared decision making capacity with the various levels of government that surround us.

It is also valid left wing argument to support the fight against climate change; by requiring the industrial players to do more to mitigate legitimate concerns raised by the climate science community.

The false choice as presented by the big media and the right wing is that the left has to pick one of these avenues; so that they may define “leftists” as one of the above. The truth is that we’re all of the above and this is our test.

We’ll overcome this. If we work together.

My2bits

Ironically, adding an extra “EHT” fee to restaurant guest checks doesn’t produce pushback

Story: https://globalnews.ca/news/6428076/employer-health-tax-victoria-diner-fee/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

So the restaurant operator is adding an additional 1% to guest checks to offset the new employer health tax brought in by the NDP for 2020.

In the article, patrons don’t seem upset to pay this fee, the operator says that he’s not profiting from it either.

Lesson: folks don’t mind paying taxes for healthcare.

We’re done here.

My2bits

Update: something fishy about the story.

For the above mentioned restaurant to pay $50k in new EHT fees to the government, his payroll should be about $2.5 million.

Given an industry standard that payroll shouldn’t exceed 35% of your revenue, that $2.5 million would be payroll costs of a $7 million business.

If these things are true and the company is charging an extra 1% on guest checks, he’s generating $70k to pay a $50k cost.

But, as he says, there’s no profit here.

Ok.

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