News Release March 1, 2017

B.C. Liberals’ balanced budget claims are fraudulent deceits

Though the B.C. Liberal Party government’s new budget was relatively well-received by many interest groups, closer looks at its details by the B.C. Conservative Party and other experts have shown their budget has many serious flaws.

A prime example of those budget problems is Insurance Corporation of B.C., which under Liberal mismanagement has seen its reserve funds drained of more than $1.2 billion in recent years by the provincial government, it has lost more than $800 million in recent years on operations and has unsettled claims totalling about $8.8 billion, which means that soon after the election B.C. drivers will face huge increases in their insurance premiums far beyond what would have been required if its reserve funds were intact.

As Province columnist Mike Smyth wrote on Feb. 28, “Despite hiking premiums by 32 per cent since (Christy) Clark became Premier in 2011, ICBC is broke … and is projected to lose hundreds of millions more going forward.”

“If the ICBC boondoggle was the only example where the Campbell-Clark Liberals have abused the public interest it might be merely a regrettable anomaly but in fact it sadly is typical of their mismanagement of many issues, especially the finances of B.C. Hydro which they also have used as a cash cow,” said B.C. Conservative Party spokesman John Twigg after studying the budget documents.

As Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer reported on Feb. 23, Hydro’s debt is forecast to double to $23 billion by the end of the decade and has “set alarm bells to ringing at (lead bond-rating agency) Moody’s” which has noted that Hydro’s metrics now are “among the weakest of Canadian provincial utilities”.

“A government that promised to make British Columbia debt-free in the last election has, with another election approaching, run up so much debt that it has put its own much-treasured credit rating at risk,” Palmer concluded.

The bad news is that such problems are in fact widespread, such as the province’s toll bridges also losing hundreds of millions or dollars a year, and that that general financial squeeze has caused short-staffing in the courts system, neglecting children in care, closing schools, freezing welfare rates for 10 years, lengthening wait lists for services such as health care and liquidating the forests for the increased export of raw logs while forest product mills are shutting down and losing some 30,000 jobs, said Twigg, who is the B.C. Conservative Party’s director of policy and communications.

“But one key area not being cut is propaganda,” said Twigg, noting the government’s advertising budget has been doubled to $15 million apparently to pay for TV ads about the budget and full-page newspaper ads in all papers which try to promote the government’s efforts at job creation and skills training.

The essence is that the B.C. Liberals cut or capped services, jerked up Medicare premiums and other charges like that such as bridge tolls and plundered the Crown corporations for cash in order to create a pre-election slush fund with which to buy votes from enough of an array of interest groups to enable the Liberals to steal another election win that on performance they really don’t deserve, said Twigg, who speaks for the party while it lacks a duly-elected leader.

The “Triple-A credit rating”, the “nation’s strongest economy” and other labels like that were earned fraudulently by deceits that even the B.C. Auditor-General Carol Bellringer now is critical of, notably a $42-billion deferral that she calls “inappropriate” (in a news release on Feb. 28 at http://www.bcauditor.com//media/news-releases – the full report is available on the Auditor-General website at www.bcauditor.com/pubs).

While some of the new budget’s moves are undeniably helpful to groups such as families and small businesses, such as lowering and promising to phase out the MSP premiums, lowering the tax rate on small business and removing the sales tax from electricity sales to businesses, the overall gist of the B.C. Liberals’ new budget is still unconscionable and after 15 years of such antics they do deserve to be turfed in the May 9 election, says Twigg.

But of course the key problem is that the perceived main alternative to the Liberals is the B.C. New Democrats who arguably would soon become even worse in government than the Liberals have been because the BCNDP is so dominated by minority special interests such as LGBTQ activists, gender quotas for women and especially militant extreme environmentalists who want to kill carbon-related jobs and too often say “no” to major new projects such as pipelines, Site C and LNG – all of which obviously should proceed in the best overall interests of the province’s people as a whole (assuming the projects are designed for safety too).

Though the LNG industry development in B.C. now is stalled by low prices caused by a glut in world supply it eventually should and will become a major export industry for B.C., but really this is another example where the B.C. Liberals botched their own jobs because the LNG development was delayed when they let the leading proponent – Petronas – fixate on a plant site atop a large bed of eel grass that is essential habitat for sockeye salmon smolts from the nearby Skeena River, but that plant could already be under construction if it had been directed towards a better location – such as the nearby Ridley Island industrial park that now reportedly is being considered for moving it to.

But instead Premier Clark’s big promises in the 2013 election campaign of creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars from LNG and creating a now-phony Prosperity Fund for them all turned out to be unfulfilled, if not deliberate deceits from the outset – and the Prosperity Fund now contains about $400 million diverted from general revenues such as Medicare premiums. What an irony. It now is filled only with ordinary peoples’ taxes!

To put it bluntly, the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark have botched many things in the last four years, from neglecting children in care to running up huge debts in off-book accounts, but certainly among their mistakes are mismanagement of the LNG industry, the possibly-premature starts on the Site C and Massey Bridge projects (no B.C.Utilities Commission studies), and a lack of support for new oil pipelines or their railway alternatives – among many others!

The good news is that there IS a new and better political alternative emerging: the B.C. Conservative Party, which is developing a unique platform of positive new policies and innovative project proposals and will be running candidates in numerous constituencies.

For further information visit www.bcconservative.ca .

John Twigg,
Director of Policy and Communications
B.C. Conservative Party
778-348-0747