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Volume Ten, Number Two   March 2005   www.columbiajournal.ca



Electoral Spin-Doctoring at its Best:

BC Liberal Budget

Peter Dimitrov

According to the BC Liberal "hoopla" and the mainstream media, the election budget is better than "sliced bread" and the invention of the "light bulb". Some, with their tongue in cheek might have us believe it is even better and more popular than "bc bud". Indeed the stage is set for a "golden decade" - and all that is due to Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals? 

So while many might be inclined to believe all the "noise", why not relax a bit, turn off the TV ads, and take the time to think - take the time to subject this BC Liberal budget to a little analysis - after all the NHL season isn't on - so what better to do with one's time?  Prior to doing this, let us recall that the BC Liberals had record breaking deficits for the past several years, which has increased the long term debt of the province by the billions.  Yes, they've announced an expected surplus of $1.74 billion dollar for the coming year, but lets ask the question: how much of this is due to BC Liberal economic policy applied to the province?
Right off the top, there is about $1 billion in equalization payment from the Federal Government, because matters are 'so booming' in our economy that we still are considered a have not province deserving of equalization payments. Doesn't that fact alone make you rethink the Liberal ad campaign and their puffery respecting our booming economy. 

Then there are large transfer payments from the Federal government in the health and education sectors. No merit can be claimed by the BC Liberals on that score,  we have the population, ergo we get the transfer payments just like other provinces. 

Then we have the revenues from the home and commercial construction sectors, largely because interest rates are the lowest in about 50 years - once again no merit to the BC Liberals.  Yes, we have high resource revenues but that is because of world commodity prices and demand, especially for oil, natural gas and coal - surely, the BC Liberals can't claim merit for that. In fact, much of the natural gas revenues from North East BC are due to the framework laid down by the previous NDP government. 

Let us not forget to count the extra revenues from increased BC Medical premiums.  Then expanded gambling revenus: remember when " they" were against gambling expansion; then more monies from the Property Transfer tax - once again related to home construction.  Tourism revenues are up, but that is due to the value of our looney versus the Euro/US dollar and the fact that Canada is perceived as a 'safe' destination for  Americans and Europeans. 

Of course, we should not forget the increased revenues from massive raw log exports - now that is a BC Liberal economic strategy that makes sense - export jobs along with the raw logs!  

Most importantly, a good portion of that surplus (perhaps $700 million or so) is the result of massive cut-backs and/or closures of schools, hospitals, emergency care facilities, women's centres, privatization of Crown assets, the slashing of the civil service by many thousands of people, etc.   Yes, it is agreed that there has been an increase of approximately $2 billion in spending in the health sector--but ask yourself where has that money come from, and should the BC Liberals legitimately claim merit for those increased revenues?  Yes, agreed there has been a little over a billion in increased spending in the education sector, some for K- K12, and a larger portion for colleges and universities - but how much of that money is from federal transfer payments and the result of massively increased tuition hikes foisted on the backs of students?

Once again - I give low marks to the BC Liberals for the increased expenditures in these vital sectors.  In my estimation the BC Liberals and their economic strategy is not the cause of the "boom'" in the BC economy. Rather the 'business cycle" in terms of construction and commodity prices just happens to have favored BC during this last two or years, and a large part of that surplus is the result of the massive cut-backs and off-loading on the backs of many segments of the population. Then we have the increased user fees - to numerous to mention.  Coming soon are the Olympic infrastructure, and transportation infrastructure expenditures. Most of those monies will again come from the Federal government not the BC Liberal strategy. 

In my view the BC Liberals have been grossly incompetent with respect to the management of our economy. Many regions and many segments of the population have been hurt by their massive tax breaks, and their mean-spirited, slash and burn tactics of the past four years.  Discounted in all this analysis - is an analysis of one of the substantial factors for the booming BC economy - the "bc bud" underground economy - profits from this renewable resource are no doubt widely circulated in the "legitimate" sectors.  Let me tell you - it would take more than many months of inhaling "bc bud" before I could even come close to believing yet another BC Fiberal deception --and I don't smoke anything--so there is no hope there!  As for the electorate, I hope they don't fall for, or in, the "soup" again, because if they do, May 17, 2005, will be the day that the BC Fiberals read another victory as a sign to carry on with their neo-liberal strategy and sell-off of British Columbia. Indeed a BC Liberal victory will signal that they can do as they will with impunity, and I don't even want to ponder that scenario.  Surely, this BC Liberal government, like no other BC government deserves to be severely punished by the electorate, punished for their lies, their deception, their mean-spiritedness and their ideological incompetence in imposing a failed neo-liberal economic strategy upon a province and a people.         



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