Viewpoint: Politics, partnerships and the public purse

by Robert and Rita Valine When looking into financial shenanigans, “follow the money.” When it comes to political shenanigans and social services cuts, “follow the votes.”

We were curious as to why the BC Liberal Party would support BC Ferry Corporation’s program in cutting services for the coastal communities and as a result limiting their travel and transportation options and, by extension, their economies.

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If we look at a map of the BC coast from Prince Rupert to Tsawwassen, there are nine political ridings. Two are Liberal: Bowen Island and Comox/Courtenay. An Independent represents Tsawwassen. The remaining six are New Democratic Party ridings, that’s 66 per cent.

Comox/Courtenay (Little River) essentially doesn’t rely on ferry service in the Powell River-Little River run. Powell River is dependent on that service for many essential supplies and medical services.

Obviously, the Liberals don’t depend on coastal ridings to stay in power. Should the Liberals want to win the “hearts and minds” of the coastal voters, slashing ferry services is a strategy that seems somewhat misguided.

Here are two quotes to consider. The first is by Abraham Lincoln: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves, in their separate, and individual capacities.”

The second: “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power,” was said by Benito Mussolini (and he should know).

Think about BC Ferry Corporation/BC government; Fortis Gas/BC government; private clinics/BC government; run of river (Plutonic, Magma Energy, Alterra Power), et cetera. These are euphemistically called “public/private partnerships.” They tell us that they operate more efficiently than government-run. However, the gains of efficiency seem to “porkify” the remuneration for the top executives rather than the people who own the resources...us.

Does anyone truly still believe that it was a good idea to transfer these services from the public sector to the private sector where the entire focus shifts from services to the generation of profits (cut service to lower costs and raise fees to maximize revenues)? Are we really better off seeing the benefits flow to the heavy wallet brigade at the top of the economic food chain (one-per-centers) than the general public?

Conservative governments (BC Liberals in name only) seem to be in the habit of reducing taxes for the wealthy and corporate sector then realize that there is a paucity of funds in the treasury—the obvious strategy is for them to cut public services not reinstate the taxes. So essentially, the middle class is subsidizing the wealthy and the corporations’ tax breaks.

It has been brought to the attention of the provincial government that sailboats are able to move through coastal waters absolutely free. The minister of transportation and infrastructure has come up with the idea of privatizing the wind and contracting a company out of Houston, Texas, to install “smart meters” on sailboats in order to harness this last publicly free resource. However, there seems to be a jurisdictional problem over this wind resource between the federal and provincial governments. Both seem to need to detoxify their addiction to privatization of Crown resources. A thought to ponder.

Robert and Rita Valine live in Powell River. Robert is a retired teacher and Rita a retired BC Tel computer specialist. They lived in Central America for 10 years.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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