Time is nearing for the provincial government to start another session at the provincial Legislature in Victoria and Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald is waiting to see what the future holds.
“I think, as we have said before, the last two years the government has been very dysfunctional. So you have had a different experience the past two years than the previous four,” Macdonald said. “I think there are open questions about Premier Clark and whether she is up to the job. To be fair I think we will look at this session and see what she is able to produce.”
Macdonald felt there were two things that have to be found in this session of the legislature.
“We need a serious fiscal plan. One that lays out where we are going to go in the short and long term. Secondly, she (Premier Clark) has said her priority is a job agenda. What you should look for are the policy pieces that back up a serious job agenda,” he said.
As for the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), Macdonald said the time has come to move on and fix what was done wrong.
“You have to remember that my position always was that we should not bring in the HST which included we should not have taken the $1.6 billion. There was a cost in terms of changing over but it was not the $1.6 billion that had to do with the transfer from the federal government. Which was essentially a bribe and was the piece that got the government interested. So in terms of managing that you would expect negotiations and there is time to figure out how to pay it back,” Macdonald said.
He went on to explain that it was because of the vote on the HST that there will be no early election.
“The reason she did not go and have an election is that the polling is very poor for her. They would have lost pretty heavily if they had an election after the HST defeat.”
Creating jobs has become another point where Macdonald continues to question the premier. In a press release sent out after Premier Clark’s job announcement made on Sept. 22, Macdonald said, “The entire Liberal strategy on forestry for the past decade has been based on wishful thinking and hoping for the best. The result has been a loss of more than 34,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs. Thursday’s announcement was more of the same. The sad truth is that this strategy will only result in fewer jobs in the forest industry, not more. As forest health continues to decline, it’s inevitable that we will have fewer trees to harvest as the years go by. Only by increasing the number of jobs we get per tree we cut down can we actually grow jobs in forestry.”
He went on to agree with New Democrat leader Adrian Dix by saying, “it is extremely disappointing that Vancouver Island and the Southern Interior seem to be absent from Ms. Clark’s plan, especially given that these are regions with an historical dependence on forestry.”
Macdonald pointed out that under the Liberals, raw log exports have spiked in the past two years – up by 50 per cent from 2009 to 2010 alone. Raw log exports only exacerbate the problem, he said.
He said the premier should have announced a significant investment in forest health, which would have not only put people back to work today, but would have the added benefit of solidifying forestry in the decades to come.
“Our forests need to be seen as the infrastructure on which the forest industry is based,” said Macdonald. “Under the Liberals, tree-planting and silviculture has been severely cut at a time when the forests need it most. This will have serious implications for forestry in the future. A healthy forest industry needs a healthy forest. If Premier Clark was really serious about jobs, she would have recognized the problem and ensured there are resources to deal with it.”