by Geoff Olson

Does British Columbia premier Clark deserve a second chance from voters?

Considering her personal record of alternative facts and flimflam, along with her government’s serial scandals and scams (some inherited from her Liberal predecessor Gordon Campbell) the answer has to be a resounding no.

For starters, there was Clark’s $50,000 annual stipend for attending BC Liberal fundraisers, a perk she dropped only after it became a “distraction.” Integrity BC’s Dermod Travis discovered that over 12 years, 177 companies donated more than $100,000 each to the BC Liberal party, for a total of $54 million. These companies netted $15 billon dollars worth of contracts from the government, Travis revealed in his recent e-book, May I Take Your Order?

Gifts from corporations, unions, and even foreign governments, illegal in jurisdictions across the world, is just business as usual in BC: a “cash for access” free-for-all that rebrands representative democracy as a high-end shopping spree.

The real estate sector has been responsible for the largest net donations the BC Liberals, to the tune of  $12 million dollars over 10 years. That  might explain the presence of real estate reps on Clark’s May 2016 junket to Asia, along with her government’s failure to adequately address BC’s housing affordability crisis.

The extraordinary cynicism of the Clark government was revealed prior to the last provincial election, with the leak of a memo sent from the email account of Clark’s good friend and then-deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad. The Liberal campaign strategy involved “quick wins” by targeting ethnic voters with public apologies for various “historical wrongs.” Nothing to see here folks, no independent investigation to follow – as in the 2015 case of a Liberal staffer triple-deleting emails concerning BC’s Highway of Tears.

Then there’s the premier’s nonstop posturing about “100,000 jobs” created by the vapourous LNG economy, with zero plants completed. Clark not only projected a Bizarro World $100 billion windfall from LNG, she has painted it as a green energy alternative, which is only possible by dismissing pesky externalities, like the massive energy inputs and environmental degradation involved in LNG extraction, processing and transportation.

On it goes: Clark’s false accusations of hacking attacks by the NDP, the firing of seven health care researchers under mysterious circumstances, nixing the disability bus pass annual fee, and the child deaths in foster care. Oh, and her farcical promise to run “the most open and transparent government in Canada.” Can’t forget that one.

But for my money – and yours as well, in the literal sense of the word –  the single biggest scandal is now underway, with construction of the Site C Dam in the Peace River region. Taxpayers will be shelling out $8.8 billion dollars for one of the largest infrastructure developments in Canadian history: a fiscal Rube Goldberg device pegged to supply energy to the fantasized LNG industry.

“You don’t even have to think very much about the environmental and aboriginal costs of Site C because the economics are so awful, ”Harry Swain told The New York Times. He should know, as a former federal deputy minister and chairman of a government environmental panel appointed to review the project.

In 2015, Christy promised to get Site C “past the point of no return” before this year’s election. Yet three researchers, including Karen Bakker, head of UBC’s program on water governance estimate, recently concluded that suspending or cancelling the project would save taxpayers between $500 million and $1.65 billion.

The BC Utilities Commission has rejected Site C once before; no doubt this is why the premier hasn’t submitted it for review by the public utility regulator. NDP Leader John Horgan, while dithering on a decision on Site C, has said he will put it before the commission if elected. No guarantee, but it’s better than what our debt-friendly Liberal leader is offering: a tide of red ink that will make the NDP’s infamous fast ferries from the late nineties seem like a child’s fleet of paper boats.

A second chance for Christy? Perhaps as an AM rage-radio host, but not as premier. We’ve had six years of her government attacking the commons while dispensing corporate welfare to big-money benefactors. Reelection will only encourage the Libs to go medieval on our assets.

The Vancouver Courier, May 4

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