Let’s Avoid Collective Amnesia at the Polls Next Week – The Innumerable Scandals of the BC Liberals

By Evan Sumner

Let’s avoid collective amnesia at the polls next week and try to keep in mind the number of controversies our current government has managed to be embroiled in over the years. If you’re like me and specifics tend to evade you, I suggest just focusing on the sheer number of scandals and broken promises that have plagued Christy Clark and the BC Liberals – so many in fact that while writing this article I quickly realized it would be best if I limit myself to just the most egregious.

1. Baseless Accusation of Hacking

Last February, when private donor information was inadvertently made public on the BC Liberal’s website, the Premier promptly accused the opposition of criminally hacking their website. This accusation was quickly debunked and led to Clark being heavily criticized for falsely accusing political opponents of undermining democracy. It was without doubt a hypocritical accusation on Clark’s part given her own government’s involvement in several similarly undemocratic scandals, including one surrounding the deletion of e-mails to avoid Freedom of Information Requests.[1]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/has-premier-christy-clark-had-her-enoughs-enough-scandal/article33991257/

2. Shawnigan Lake

The BC Liberal’s originally gave the go-ahead for a private company to dump 100000 tons/per year of contaminated soil at a site near Shawnigan Lake. Thankfully for the residents of Shawnigan Lake the government eventually cancelled the permit, but not before they had mounted a series of protests and engaged the province in a prolonged legal battle – yet another unnecessary cost for the taxpayer brought about by the BC Liberals.[2]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-cancels-cobble-hill-waste-discharge-permit-near-shawnigan-lake/article34126291/

3. Corporate Donors and Clark’s $50K/year Stipend

The BC Liberals have long refused to change the current campaign finance rules. Rules that essentially allow wealthy lobby groups to have a disproportionate amount of influence on the outcome of BC’s elections. This isn’t surprising however, given the BC Liberal’s receive millions of dollars each year from large corporate donors.[3]http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/big-corporate-donors-give-big-to-the-b-c-liberals

Additionally, up until recently, Mrs. Clark received a $50000/year stipend from the Liberal Party coffers on top of her yearly salary – something opposition leaders frequently argued was a direct result of the above-mentioned corporate donors and a clear conflict of interest.[4]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/christy-clarks-salary-being-topped-up-by-donations-to-bc-liberal-party/article29767196/; http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/b-c-premier-christy-clark-no-longer-receiving-50k-stipend-from-party-1.3250867

4. Housing affordability & Poverty Reduction

Despite the ongoing housing crisis and ever-increasing levels of homelessness, the BC Liberals say BC doesn’t need a poverty reduction plan. Instead, they plan to continue to focus on creating jobs that will, for the most part, in no way impact housing affordability or improve the lot of BC’s homeless population. For example, more than half of the 72,000 new jobs created in 2016 were only part-time – hardly a scenario conducive to successfully making rent payments in a place like Vancouver. In short, Christy Clark is promising to help people buy homes when an enormous part of the population can barely manage to rent one.[5] http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-s-working-poor-reducing-poverty-expensive-but-possible; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/christy-clark-boasts-about-bcs-low-jobless-rate-but-rural-areas-struggle/article34717096/; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/who-will-step-up-to-fix-british-columbia-housing-crisis/article34861441/

5. The War on Teachers

The Premier began her war on public education when she was Minister of Education. While Minister, Mrs. Clark was the one who unilaterally gutted teacher’s contracts regarding class size limits and composition. Once she became Premier, her government continued the BC Liberal’s tradition of steadily cutting the funding to public education.

Despite the lower courts (with one exception) finding that her actions were illegal, Clark relentlessly continued to spend taxpayer money and took the issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The SCC took all of 20 minutes to decide the issue, delivering their judgment from the bench – the teachers had been right all along and Clark was wrong. Mrs. Clark has now been tasked with undoing all the damage her government has done, and yes, she will be spending yet more of our BC tax dollars doing it.[6]http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/mike-smyth-will-voters-forgive-and-forget-christy-clarks-war-with-teachers

6. Site C

The Site C Dam has been controversial since the beginning and, now that a number of economic reports have found the whole project to be far from a viable investment, Clark’s ongoing support for it seems more than a little misplaced. The fact thousands of hectares of farm land, houses, and properties will be destroyed or negatively affected, as well as untold impacts on local wildlife and the environment, only adds to the controversy.[7]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-could-save-16-billion-by-cancelling-site-c-ubc-report/article34757233/

7. LNG Fail

Clark spent most of the last election promising a lucrative LNG export industry and 100000 new jobs, none of which materialized. Now the LNG market is not nearly so attractive and Clark’s plan is likely going to amount to little more than just another one of her broken promises – although in this case, environmentalists province wide will undoubtedly rejoice should her plan implode entirely.[8]http://business.financialpost.com/news/the-tide-has-turned-against-them-b-c-lng-projects-stranded-amid-global-glut

8. Laura Miller – Liberal’s Campaign Director Still Faces Criminal Charges

The current campaign director of the BC Liberal’s, Laura Miller, initially resigned from her post after three separate criminal charges were laid against her in Ontario – all charges are related to the illegal destruction of documents. Just three months after resigning however, Ms. Miller was reinstalled and promoted to the Liberal party’s campaign director. This all happened regardless of the fact that she has yet to go to trial or clear her name.[9]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/laura-miller-christy-clarks-new-campaign-chief-facing-charges/article31892570/

9. Ministry of Children and Family Development

This past year a number of reports brought to light the fact that a large number of children had died, been physically and/or sexually abused, taken their own lives or been unnecessarily kept from their parents under the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s watch. Despite this, both the current government and the MCFD deny wrongdoing and continue to defend the existing system. The incident that arguably sparked the controversy was the death of Alex Gervais, a youth who committed suicide after being housed in a Super 8 hotel by the MCFD – he was alone when he died.[10]http://www.vancouversun.com/christy+clark+defends+children+minister+after+teen+death/11391587/story.html?__lsa=8088-0192

10. Selling BC’s water to Nestlé

Clark, along with her government, arranged to sell Nestle BC’s water for $2.25 per million litres. Given the average price of a bottle of water is around $2.50, this was undoubtedly a very controversial deal.[11]https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/02/24/Nestle-Pays-Nothing-to-Bottle-Water/

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/has-premier-christy-clark-had-her-enoughs-enough-scandal/article33991257/
2. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-cancels-cobble-hill-waste-discharge-permit-near-shawnigan-lake/article34126291/
3. http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/big-corporate-donors-give-big-to-the-b-c-liberals
4. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/christy-clarks-salary-being-topped-up-by-donations-to-bc-liberal-party/article29767196/; http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/b-c-premier-christy-clark-no-longer-receiving-50k-stipend-from-party-1.3250867
5. http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-s-working-poor-reducing-poverty-expensive-but-possible; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/christy-clark-boasts-about-bcs-low-jobless-rate-but-rural-areas-struggle/article34717096/; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/who-will-step-up-to-fix-british-columbia-housing-crisis/article34861441/
6. http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/mike-smyth-will-voters-forgive-and-forget-christy-clarks-war-with-teachers
7. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-could-save-16-billion-by-cancelling-site-c-ubc-report/article34757233/
8. http://business.financialpost.com/news/the-tide-has-turned-against-them-b-c-lng-projects-stranded-amid-global-glut
9. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/laura-miller-christy-clarks-new-campaign-chief-facing-charges/article31892570/
10. http://www.vancouversun.com/christy+clark+defends+children+minister+after+teen+death/11391587/story.html?__lsa=8088-0192
11. https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/02/24/Nestle-Pays-Nothing-to-Bottle-Water/