B.C. budget features cynical pre-election ploys

Media Release

CAMPBELL RIVER, February 22, 2017: The B.C. Liberal Party government’s new provincial budget is mainly a cynical ruse in which its rhetoric exceeds reality, says B.C. Conservative Party spokesman John Twigg.

“It’s sadly obvious that Premier Christy Clark and her colleagues are more interested in posturing on some selected issues in order to try to steal another election win than they are in actually building a better province,” said Twigg, citing the popular appeal of the phase-out of Medical Service Plan premiums contrasted with their maintaining a freeze on welfare rates for more than 10 years, among many other such examples.

“This year’s budget seems to be mainly a game in which the Liberals are strategically trying to trap the John Horgan New Democrats into coming out in defense of unpopular issues while themselves delivering handouts targetted to their own cliques of pay-to-play donors and demographic supporters,” said Twigg, who attended the budget speech and is speaking for the party in the absence of a duly-elected leader though the B.C. Conservatives are developing a strong platform and will be fielding an array of candidates in advance of the May 9 election.

“The government’s spin is that B.C. has the best economy in Canada, it’s now the only province with a triple-A credit rating and that this is the fifth consecutive balanced budget but those claims are flawed,” he said, noting all of the other provinces have been injured and the B.C. budgets in recent years have shifted borrowing to off-budget entities while draining “dividends” from indebted Crown corporations, notably B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

“The reality is that the Clark Liberals have a terrible record of wasteful spending, botched projects and administrative boondoggles in numerous areas,” he said, citing their illegal cuts in education, neglect of children in care and understaffing in the courts system, again among many other examples.

“It’s pretty galling for them to claim they’ve won a race when all the other horses were injured and they’re only limping along and really are misrepresenting the true state of affairs,” said Twigg, a veteran observer of B.C. affairs, noting the budget is relatively silent on seniors issues and makes no spending cuts in its propaganda budgets.

“A prime example of the Liberals’ mismanagement is its handling of the threats facing the province’s key forest industry. The government has only recently appointed David Emerson as a special trade envoy to try to negotiate a new softwood lumber agreement and the budget speech and the Finance Minister, Mike De Jong, are taking some shots at alleged American protectionism but meanwhile the B.C. government has done nothing to make its stumpage rates and other pricing mechanisms more competitive and transparent,” he said, noting the B.C. Conservatives are considering including the revival of regional log markets in their election platform.

Twigg noted the budget documents show that B.C.’s economy benefitted from an unusual surge of commodity exports in 2016 and that appears to have been due mainly to a sudden jump in lumber and raw-log exports apparently prior to the expected expiry of the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement which beginning in March could see the imposition of crippling surcharges on B.C. lumber exports to the U.S.

“It’s typically easy for the Liberals to take cheap shots at American protectionism, apparently playing to antipathy towards U.S. President Donald Trump, while actually having done virtually nothing to fix the apparent structural problems inside the province,” said Twigg, emphasizing that that pattern is being repeated in dozens of key policy areas.

“The budget is virtually silent on seniors’ issues apart from some promised construction of some housing and the vaunted allocation of $1.4 billion to home care and mental health issues is spread over 10 years and was inserted so late into the picture that the budget speech itself notes it’s not included in the budget numbers,” apparently because it comes from recently-announced transfers from Ottawa.

“It’s time for an end to this Liberal flim-flammery,” said Twigg, noting the B.C. Liberals have been in power since 2001 and now seem focussed mainly on covering up their own scandals and mistakes rather than espousing new solutions.

“Promising a bunch of megaprojects with dubious prospects and excessive costs like LNG and the Massey Bridge is not what B.C.ers want or need. Instead we need new visions for a radically different and better province,” he said, urging voters to wait and see the Conservative movement’s innovative platform before deciding which party to support and vote for.

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For further information call John Twigg at 778-348-0747 or contact john@johntwigg.com .