There are times when a picture is truly worth a thousand words.
The cartoon by I. Rice, “ Oh what a difference a year before an election makes,” in the July 29 edition, exposes just how out-of-touch, cynical, ill-thought-out, and cosmetic the BC Liberal’s pre-election housing tax ploy is.
As we approach the fourth and final year of Premier Christy Clark’s regime, hurried, incoherent policies appear to be the order of the day.
For example, rather than formulate a comprehensive provincial anti-poverty strategy – such as exists in every other province – our provincial housing minister staggers from stating that social housing advocates in Vancouver are “whiners”, to using millions of dollars on crisis action triggered by the politically embarrassing pre-election Victoria court house encampment.
Waiting until the fourth and final year of her regime, Premier Photo-Op has made token, inconsistent housing taxation policies that apply only in Metro Vancouver despite the fact that housing affordability is an issue as far up the Fraser Valley as Chilliwack; here in Greater Victoria; in the Squamish-Whistler-Pemberton corridor, and in Okanagan centres such as Kelowna.
It is a tragic pattern that reflects the inadequate missteps of an out of-touch, incompetent government sticking its finger in a dike while a tsunami of speculation, money laundering and real estate flipping will destroy the hopes of hardworking British Columbians – particularly a whole younger generation – who will never be able to afford a place of their own. Those who must, or choose to, rent are equally victimized by ever-rising rents.
The proposed 15 per cent tax on foreign purchasers of property in Metro Vancouver will not deter a foreign money launderer who would view such a meagre tax as a simple cost of doing his nefarious business. American buyers, whose dollar is at least 25 per cent above the Canadian dollar, will still see a benefit to purchasing a Victoria condo for a brief annual holiday in Victoria – all the while waiting to cash in when Victoria condo prices approach those of their Vancouver counterparts.
Now is the time to adopt a provincewide comprehensive housing strategy to prevent the contagion of unaffordable housing to spread in a province blessed with forests, underutilized saw mills and unemployed workers. Poverty in the midst of plenty is a man-made, not a God-ordained condition.
As Gandhi said, “We have enough resources for every man’s need – but not every man’s greed.” We desperately need a new government that understands that affordable housing for all is a possible future for all who work by hand and brain to contribute to our common good.