A hard look at choices

Tom Fletcher talks politics

Let’s assume that when everyone in B.C. gets to be finance minister for a day, a majority choose to throw a $3-billion chair through the office window to show how mad they are about the harmonized sales tax.

The cleanup will take two years, but first there will be a provincial election to decide who holds the broom and dustpan. And the choices are becoming clear.

You have a new B.C. Liberal leader who has tacked to the centre on the minimum wage and business taxes in an effort to seek forgiveness for the high-handed administration that lost the public’s trust.

And you have two opposition parties that are entirely reactionary in their approach to today’s fast-changing world.

There isn’t much to say at this point about the B.C. Conservatives under John Cummins. They are against modern treaty settlements, the carbon tax and (I think) the HST. They stand for lower taxes, but so far that doesn’t include a reduced sales tax rate.

The rest of their platform is platitudes, with enough of a whiff of protest to pave a path for an NDP government.

And the NDP manages to make the B.C. Conservatives look modern.

In January I described how the B.C. NDP constitution still formally endorses the government taking over major industries, and explicitly rejects all for-profit activity. I won’t re-quote the convoluted Marxist language, which boils down to ‘state good, competition bad.’

A reader provides a real-time example of how this principle would apply to a problem confronting the B.C. government. To prevent another riot in Vancouver, the government should supervise an orderly redistribution of Stanley Cups.

This core principle of socialism, an 80-year-old relic, was debated at the national party’s convention in Vancouver on the weekend. Socialist dead-enders rallied to keep it alive, rejecting vague new wording that favours “social democratic principles” to ensure “economic and social equality.”

This isn’t just an academic discussion for party conventions. One of the last acts of the NDP opposition in the B.C. legislature this spring was to propose a legislated end to poverty.

According to their bill, B.C. should create a Ministry of Poverty Reduction with annual goals for imposing the redistribution of wealth.

The “Poverty Reduction Act” contains a weasel-worded definition of poverty: insufficient money to “acquire and maintain economic self-reliance” and “facilitate integration into and participation in society.”

Does this mean a guaranteed annual income? Can people achieve “economic self-reliance” by collecting welfare? Does anyone actually believe this stuff?

If you believe unionized state monopolies are the best business model, I guess so.

I won’t elaborate on the fringe parties such as Chris Delaney’s B.C. First, a splinter from the B.C. Conservative stump.

The Green Party is the only one other than the B.C. Liberals that looks to the future. Perhaps too far in the future. The Greens want a dramatically increased carbon tax and a transition to a “steady state” economy that doesn’t try to produce and consume more. Try eliminating poverty with that program.

I frequently get letters from people who accuse me of parroting the government’s line on issues such as the HST and poverty. If there are political alternatives out there that make actual sense in today’s world, I’d love to hear about them. Until then, these are the choices.

Any day now, NDP leader Adrian Dix might start to unveil the positive alternative he has promised for an election that may come this fall. That will be something to examine closely.

Right now, he’s urging you to throw that chair.

 

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and

 

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