New Premier, Same Dismissive BC Liberal Insensitivities

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In less that two weeks, Premier Clark and the same old BC Liberal government have boldly continued the decade-long tradition of being mean, dismissive and insensitive to vulnerable British Columbians:

  1. suggesting students should drink less coffee to pay for tuition fee increases
  2. highlighting how much grant money they are not restoring after restoring a minority of grant money they previously stripped
  3. funding food banks when party policies have entrenched poverty for almost a decade

1. Just hours after being sworn in, the government released a fact sheet on post-secondary education. It included a clever comparison of recent tuition fee increases to a cup of coffee a day, implying reducing by a cup a day would make the pain of tuition fee increases go away. The new minister apologized for the insensitivity and the ministry yanked the insensitive statement from the fact sheet. And since the BC government will collect more in tuition fees next year than in corporate income taxes, we’ve gone fully through the rabbit hole of fair taxation [Did you know BC’s corporate tax rate hits zero percent next January for the first $500,000 in revenue?]. The BC Liberal brand has a new spokesperson/premier, but it is the same dismissive insensitivity we’ve seen for a decade. Let them eat cake/coffee/whatever.

2. In an attempt to re-spin the mean-spirited reputation of the previous BC Liberal government, the new premier cheerily announced the restoration of $15 million in grants her party previously stripped from community organizations. Not only is it cynical to celebrate the reversal of her own party’s anti-social funding cuts, the restoration of just 5/12 of the money stripped allowed everyone to focus on the glass that is still 7/12 empty as $21 million remains stripped away. Why not restore it all? Even her main leadership opponent pledged to restore it all, but not the new premier. Trying to spin this announcement like some sort of gift is typical dismissiveness from the BC Liberal party.

3. But most galling is that the anti-social, poor bashing policies of a decade of misery with this government have led to record child poverty, a stalled minimum wage, depressed social assistance rates, increased user fees and stripped advocacy services for the poor. In this context, and in the premier’s announcement of restored funding, she included this gem, “This new funding will provide an extra 25 per cent to help food banks meet growing demand.” So not only does her party exacerbate poverty for a decade, then strip funding from community groups, then in magnanimously restoring it, pledge to fund food banks, a band aid solution to the poverty they themselves have stoked.

“It’s very interesting,” said Cheryl Carline, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, following the statement from Clark. “We don’t accept government funding. We never have.”

In fact, none of the 90 or so food banks represented by Food Banks B.C. accept government funding.

The reason, Carline said, is to ensure that the organization remains autonomous.

“We’ve always been self-sustaining,” Carline said. “While we’ve always had good relationships with governments, we’ve never accepted government funding simply because we need to be able to speak candidly about the issue of hunger as an NGO.”

“I was surprised when the announcement came across my desk, and we’ll be getting in touch with the premier’s office for some clarification.”

via Metro – Food banks puzzled by announcement.

In the end, the public is going to have to sift through the spin and rhetoric from a new face on the same mean-spirited, insensitive, dismissive party that has been bludgeoning the vulnerable for the first decade of this century.

The new premier might smile more, deliver announcements in as many child care centres as she wishes, but she will still be peddling the same brand of BC Liberal misery that has been destroying the social fabric of the province for years.

I’ve had enough.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website,

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7 thoughts on “New Premier, Same Dismissive BC Liberal Insensitivities”

  1. Obama for Dubya.

    Clark for Campbell.

    Ignatieff for Harper.

    We peoplw don’t still think government is working for the people, do we? /sarcasm

    It doesn’t matter the party, nor the colour or the sex of the spokesperson who comes to sit in the top political seat, western democratic government’s of capitalism are owned by the people it serves. The political office is periodically auctioned off to the highest bidder, and we legitimate the effectively pre-determined process by voting.

    And isn’t this exactly what is suppose to happen in our economic paradigm — making your money work for you?

    Of course nothing can change because all legitimate bidders have the same ideology — centralized wealth and power. That is, nothing can change until the inevitable revolution redefines government.

  2. Every time I think that they couldn’t get any worse, they do. I particularly appreciate the comments from Cheryl Carline… clearly this decision was made behind closed doors and with little consultation with actual service providers.

    1. real consultation is never as good as
      – optical consultation, or
      – implied consultation, or
      – not really implied but something made ambiguous for people so they can infer consultation seems to have occurred.

      if they actually consulted with real groups doing real work, they’d hear messages that would contradict their plan all along. then the real groups doing real work would be able to come out and say, “hey, in our real consultations you asked us X, we answered Y and you went ahead and cut taxes for the rich and corporations and increased user fees and welfare hurdles, and…my don’t you suck.”

      or something like that.

      that’s why real consultation is so pesky.

      and then there’s land claims. but no one needs to go into that.

    2. Well said …Democracy?? We all need to be re educated of the true meaning…As for the comment being made in private without the knowledge of those involved…..what’s new… Transparency Lol

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