In less than a year we will be going to the polls for the provincial election. Before the political barbs begin to fly in earnest could we please level the playing field.
I can’t count the number of times while watching question period at the Leg the same tired line was spouted by Premier Christie Clark and members of her party. “In 2001 the outgoing NDP party left the financials in a mess.” That lie has proven the axiom, “Repeat a lie often enough and it will become fact.”
Reality? A healthy surplus was left for former premier Gordon Campbell and company to make theirs. Why the lie? Because the Liberals kept pounding the beat on how inept the NDP was – and when the Liberals took power and Campbell found out the truth, the only thing he could think of doing that was appropriate was to mislead the B.C. voters.
The facts were plain to read in the transition binders that outgoing NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh gave Campbell right after the election, a surplus topping $1.5 billion. That is what the figures in the binder recorded for the fiscal year 2000-01, the last full fiscal year of NDP government.
Two days after the transition ceremony when the binders were handed over, Gordon Campbell met a scrum of press gallery reporters at Victoria’s Empress Hotel. There, where the 77-member B.C. Liberal caucus was holding its first post-election meeting, Campbell gave his answer. “Some of the problems that we face are as we thought and some are worse than we thought,” he said. “The finances of the province are worse than we anticipated.” He added, “The magnitude of the losses we may face compared to budget is still up in the air.”
Far from inheriting a fiscal disaster from the NDP, Campbell and his party were given a provincial treasury brimming with cash. But the voting public was led to think very much otherwise.
Is it too late to finally put these lies to rest? Yes, it has been an excellent ploy for our premier, but shouldn’t she be practising last election’s pledge to bring back transparency to government?