The purpose of government – whether an MLA or a cabinet minister – is to work on behalf of all the people of the province: not a select minority, not just the people who voted for you, but everyone. That’s why we cannot conduct any political activity at constituency offices. I am an Opposition politician but as MLA I am working on behalf of all North Island residents. And that should be the case for all 85 MLAs, in government and opposition.
But it is sadly not surprising that people lose faith in politics and politicians when the best interest of the public are not being served because arrogant governments abuse their power. The latest revelations that the BC Liberals were blatantly using the Ministry of Multiculturalism to try to gain support from ethnic communities ahead of the election is just another sign that they have no respect for the citizens they are supposed to serve.
This brazen abuse of the system was easily traced to the Premier’s office. The Premier’s Deputy Chief of Staff wrote a plan that called on publically funded government resources to be used for BC Liberal party partisan purpose, to court the ethnic vote. In Question Period, the Minister responsible for Multiculturalism had no answers. Eventually, under intense pressure, the Premier issued a sort of apology.
It is like the continued spending of public money on partisan advertisements trying to sell a tired and corrupt government. The latest round of commercials on TV and radio, which started this week, are intended to convince people that the budget is not bogus. This when we hear that in a desperate effort to appear to balance the books, the Finance Ministry is not only selling off buildings and land, it is also liquidating its financial instruments - the government’s investments in bonds, promissory notes and derivatives.
The incompetence of the government on financial matters continues to be exposed as its mandate near its end. This week we passed the legislation that will allow for the reintroduction of the PST in April. The government was so reluctant to admit the massive blunder of the HST and move back to the PST that it delayed bringing the legislation forward until little more than a month before the change is to take place. While some businesses say they have been assisted through the transition, many I have heard from say the consultation and guidance from the government has been incompetent and incomplete.
For much of the week, debate focussed on the budget, with government members desperately trying to show that it adds up and that there aren’t really any cuts. Unfortunately there are many cuts and it is inevitable to ponder that the $17-million being spent on partisan advertisements would have been much better spent on the real needs of our communities.
For instance literacy programmes across the province were cut. With minimal resources - $127,000 for the whole of the North Island – the impact is huge. But instead of the BC Liberal “Great Goal” of 2006 – a pledge BC will become the most literate jurisdiction in North America – we see the BC Liberals abandon the people for whom they are supposed to be working. We raised these cuts in Question Period
and I was able to show the impact by talking about how successful the literacy work was in the North Island.
With just two weeks left before we leave the Legislature (having spent a scant five weeks here in the last year) there are still a number of outstanding bills for debate. One has to wonder whether they will be left or will be pushed through with unnecessary and unseemly haste as has been the case with this government for the last eight years. Among the Legislation is a controversial Miscellaneous bill – similar to the Federal Government’s omnibus bills – which contains important changes to the Representative of Children and Youth Act as well as giving the government license to effectively privatise large swathes of our public forest lands. There is also a very worrying bill which we may debate in the days ahead that is intended to allow local authorities clamp down on crack houses, but could lead to major infringements on civil liberties.
And the only Bill the government has said it does not want to pass is one allowing for elections for nominees to the Senate: that despite the Federal Government referring the issue to the Supreme Court. Elections BC has already been allocated $1m to prepare for Senate elections even though they won’t be happening this year – and may never happen. It is another sad waste of public resources by a government flailing desperately.
I had the pleasure of introducing constituents visiting Victoria this week– some who had come for meetings
and others for the pleasure of witnessing our work in the Legislature
I am back in the constituency this weekend: Friday sees me at meetings with Adrian Dix, the leader of the Opposition. And on Saturday I am looking forward to the Fashion Inferno, the Firefighters’ Burns Fund annual fundraiser before heading back to Victoria on Sunday.
You can always reach me at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, by phone at 250 287 5100 in Campbell River or 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy, or friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter clairetrevena.