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Volume Ten, Number Three   May 2005

Fire Him!

To the Editor:

There is a business case to be made for not re-electing the Gordon Campbell government in BC. To some, the very idea that a business group would make such a case is unbelievable until an analysis is done of what the Gordon Campbell liberals have been up to for the last 3 ½  years. Let’s begin by setting the record straight. When the NDP left office in 2001, they had created a 1.4 billion dollar surplus. This has been verified by the politically independent Auditor General.

Without looking at the books, Gordon Campbell gave away 2.2 billion dollars in a 25% tax break to the richest 5% of the BC population, wiping out the NDP surplus, and proceeded with massive social spending cuts to pay for the tax break to his main supporters. This was followed up with the sale or attempted sale of revenue producing assets. The revenue from these assets has helped pay for important programs during the tenure of previous governments.

Now, let’s look at this scenario from the point of view of the responsible business person. Giving away huge sums of needed revenue to friends is something business people do not do even if they hope for some sort of return. In a cyclical economy, this is playing fast and loose with investors’ money, and is particularly poor management if that business person decides to sell off revenue producing assets for ideological reasons and obviously to balance the books in the short term. A major revenue giveaway and the selling of valuable revenue producing assets would create a structural deficit in any business. All small business people are aware of this, and it is what Gordon Campbell has just done.

Gordon Campbell is aware of this; therefore, in an effort to look fiscally responsible he has generated an artificial fiscal surplus on the backs of government workers, students, the poor and the sick and by selling valuable assets. To some he looks good but his friends in Ottawa helped out with greater than usual equalization payments.

The responsibility of a business (as with a government) is to see that everyone impacted by decisions from the top in that business, benefits, not just a handful of insiders as with ENRON or, and the wealthy supporters of the Gordon Campbell government.

What has Gordon Campbell done to ensure all British Columbians share in the wealth of our resources? He has dismantled apprenticeship training programs, made it more expensive to access what training is left, and ripped up properly negotiated union contracts. The result is the reduction of personal income for thousands of working families in BC and a shortage of skilled labour driving up construction costs in BC.
Let’s again look at what responsible business people do to ensure the health of their companies. We see that our staff are well trained, often finishing off their basic training with programs we pay for. We honour negotiated contracts with our staff to provide incentive for them to improve production and innovation. Also, we try to deal with local businesses. This strengthens the local economy. When price and delivery times are guaranteed by local businesses, as they were with the new BC ferries, there is no reason other than ideology not to deal locally. What happened with the new BC ferries is a slap in the face to BC shipyards and another giveaway of BC tax- payer’s money to foreign interests. The privatization of the BC Hospitals laundry business is another example of Campbell giving the profits to foreign owned businesses at lower wages affecting women and visible minorities.

One of the most critical components to running any business is the issue of trust. Breaking promises is the most destructive behavior a business manager can engage in.

The Gordon Campbell record of broken promises includes a promise not to sell off BC rail. He sold it anyway. He promised not to sell off BC Hydro but he has sold off 1/3 of it and is battling a citizens group who are trying to prevent him from selling off the rest of it. In his second term ICBC, the rest of Hydro and BC Ferries will be high on his list of “Promise to keep but plan to sell anyway” assets.

Gordon Campbell promised to cap post-secondary tuition fees but has already gouged students for 472 million dollars more this year than when he first took office. These students are the future of BC business and our most important asset. With cuts in education, cuts in seniors programs and health, the litany of broken promises goes on.

In summary, if Gordon Campbell were the CEO of a private company, he would have been fired for not upholding his fiduciary responsibilities to those who hired him.

On May 17th the voters will make a critical decision: does Gordon Campbell get fired or rehired?
We say fire him.

Dave Myles President
The Community Business and Professional Association of Canada

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