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Opinion  

Political resolution time

By Dermod Travis

Who could possibly have imagined what 2017 had in store for British Columbia 12 months ago?

We were all eye witnesses to a future political science seminar that left 87 MLAs where they didn't quite expect to be sitting in the legislature.

It's time again for a few New Year's resolutions for B.C.'s political class to consider for 2018. 

1. If you did it in government, don't criticize it in opposition, and if you criticized it in opposition, don't do it in government

A few days before Christmas, the BC NDP posted a social media message from Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy: “Our most urgent priority is to keep people alive, so we're dramatically increasing easy access to naloxone.”

Awfully nice of the NDP to do that, but they're not actually doing it, the government is and they're not the same thing.

Political parties in power would like to think they're synonymous, but they're not. Something the NDP gleefully reminded the Liberals of when they were sitting on the other side of the legislature.

Which reminds me. The government's logo came with the building. You inherited the colours and you will pass them on to the next government, not change the primary colour for an orange pantone in the meantime. 

Beyond the aesthetics, it sends a bad message fresh out of the gate.

And when political appointees get a more generous golden parachute than a MLA's transition allowance provides, perhaps it's time to come up with some constructive approaches to reduce the cost of a change in government, rather than attacking the other side for exorbitant payments to departing appointees knowing full well you'd do the same if elected.

2. When there's an elephant in the room, give it a nodding acknowledgement, if only for the public record

As the official Opposition knows well, the financial state of ICBC and BC Hydro isn't pretty.

Admitting the obvious – that it was some of your choices in government that lead to these messes – may not do much to improve their bottom lines, but it would be a sign of good faith by the BC Liberal party and would likely be well-received by the public.

Whistling Dixie every time the two Crown corporations come up won't suffice.

This headline from Rich Coleman's CBC year-end interview caused a few guffaws on Twitter: “B.C. Liberals had 'pretty good' record on housing.” 

Many property developers likely agree. The homeless, most renters and first-time home buyers would have a different take away from the last 16 years.

3. Less bamboozle all around

It's as though some government communications staffers believe they're acting out an episode of Mad Men.

How did BC Hydro arrive at 550 “infrastructure projects between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2015?” Take one megaproject and divide it up among a whole bunch of mini-projects.

Work on the GM Shrum Generating Station has been divided into no less than 20 “infrastructure projects” as Hydro terms them.

If you use the Alex Fraser bridge, you'll be happy to know that “rush hour relief is in sight.”

Only thing: most people's sense of “in sight” would mean soon, weeks away, maybe two or three months, not fall of 2018 at the earliest, as long as it stays “on budget and on time,” of course.

4. Let's keep laundering to clothes in 2018

This one doesn't need much in the way of explanation.

5. Disclose, disclose, disclose

The more information a government proactively releases, the more likely the public will buy-in to a policy shift, or at the very least give it a fair hearing.

This next one is more for all of us...

6. Don't let political parties and special interest groups take anyone for fools

As former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is fond of saying: “don't believe everything you read on the internet.”

If there's no source with a claim, take it with a grain of salt. If no source is provided when requested, it's probably a safe bet to dismiss it altogether.

Be demanding – but diplomatic – political consumers. 

Let's make 2018 B.C.'s political literacy year and scare the bejeezus out of politicians across the province.

– Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.



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