Picking Bones with Christy Clark

An open letter to Ms. Clark, Premier of British Columbia.

 Ms. Clark I have a few bones I need to pick over with you.

When I arrived in BC in the late 1960s WAC Bennett was in the midst of building a province for the people of BC, creating crown corporations to look after our needs and provide for the future of the province.  Such corporations included BC Rail, BC Hydro, BC Medical Services and a very efficient and effective Highways department. The attitude of the people was one of “can do”, or  “will do” and helping others in trouble at all times of day or night was the normal.  His methods would not work today but at the time they worked well and his plan and aim was to improve the lot of all the people of BC.

 So here are some of the bones:

BCHydro.

Your BC Liberal party decided to sell off BC Hydro piece by piece and indeed this was started with the sale of the accounting process to Accenture before the Unions picked up upon this and so the Heritage Act was implemented by an angry Campbell, which made it impossible to sell BC Hydro.  This Act does not mention bankrupting BC Hydro and that is exactly what your predecessor proceeded to do, and you are continuing on this path.   High rates of purchase through corporate run of the river projects at a time when supply of power is at its highest and cheapest through our own dams, and ridiculously costly projects such as the Smart Meters, and now the Site C dam have all played their part.  At its best BC Hydro was providing a dividend to BC of around $300 million per year to go towards heath and education.  Since the asset to liabilities has now past the legally mandated point (80% – 20%) where a dividend can be paid and since Mr. Campbell cooked the books to include years of advance hydro billings so that he could get a payment of $600 million, BC Hydro is now in a real financial pickle and you are adding to that with this unnecessary site C dam.  Revenue for BC Hydro has fallen due to some extent to their very effective program to reduce the use of hydro in homes and businesses, and yet you continue to pile expenses on to BC Hydro which it cannot afford.  I know you claim that the dam is needed to power your LNG program, but where exactly is that now?   B C Hydro is carrying debt already that it cannot support and how long before your  BC Liberals succeed in breaking it?

B C Rail.

Surely this must go down as the most infamous deed ever perpetuated by any government in the history of BC.  From the promise not to sell BC rail prior to getting elected to actually going ahead with that sale and the subsequent perversion of the courts independence along with a tame prosecutor and bailing out those scapegoats elected to take the fall literally right before Campbell was due to be a witness, it can only be considered in the light of a premier who cried for forgiveness on TV after he was caught for DUI overseas and labelled as a criminal.  Such was his lack of shame that one could only expect what happened with BC rail and the subsequent loss of revenue for BC in favour of his eventual board seats.  Where were you when all this transpired Ms. Clark, and did you not learn anything from this betrayal of the people of BC?

LNG and the fracking process in North East BC and the Sacred Headwaters:

I have asked your Mr. Coleman (yours because he obviously does not work for the people of BC who pay his salary) many times just where he plans to get the water needed for this process but because he doesn’t know he ignores me.  There have been numerous potential investors in this process but I imagine they are dropping off like flies because they too know that there is a limited supply of water, and because the potential costs to them of permanently damaging the Sacred Headwaters and the aquifers there, so they are not as gung ho as you would like to believe.  Without investors there will be no LNG program and no need for huge amounts of Hydro. Is that why you are now asking Alberta to buy hydro power  produced eventually from a dam which will destroy many acres of agricultural land and First Nations treaty lands which include burial grounds and hunting grounds as well as their traditional crop growing area?   This whole concept is a nightmare for the people of north east BC but a potential for profit for some greedy and uncaring corporations.  They do care about their bottom lines however and I suspect the cost of claims against them for damage to the water tables will make even them stop and think.  

B C Medical Services:

Hello Maximus and Compass and goodbye BC medical services. Yes that’s right a US company organises BC medical services, and a UK company looking after our hospitals. I am assuming that you have renewed the Maximus contract and plan to spend more money overseas instead of having very capable BC people do the work.  There you go, and you claim that costs are rising and of course they are.  You cannot expect a US corporation to do the same work as that which was done so efficiently and locally by our own BC staff at anything but a profit.  At one time BC medical services was a very reasonable and effective plan, now I can barely afford to make my monthly premiums as at the age of 75 – nearly 76 – I have to pay some $75 a month for a service I hardly use, and for the benefit of some fat cat somewhere in the US.  It never fails to amaze me that your ultra conservative party and leaders, and that includes you, feel that increased costs by contracting out work and thereby loosing jobs here in BC is an effective way to supply a need.  The constant complaint that health costs are raising rings hollow to me because they should always be measured against revenue.  If the costs are almost constant but are still classified as a percentage of the falling revenue then yes they do appear to be a larger piece of the pie; fact is though that through tax cuts and your friend Harper’s reduction in payments to the provinces for health, the pie is decreasing in size, whilst the health costs remain relatively steady thus taking more of the decreasing pie.

Eliminate the external costs of contracting out, re hire locals and watch the change.

ICBC  more affectionately known back when it was created as Moscow Mutual

Mr Barrett introduced the Insurance Corporation of BC because he wanted to corner the automobile insurance profit to help pay for his excesses in other spending.  The fact we lost such companies as Allstate completely in BC was of no importance to him no matter how well they treated their customers.

Now of course ICBC has its talons into everything from acting as receiver general for BC, to having its own courts and rental cops (integrated police forces), and using money in trust to invest in shopping centers.  The aim of ICBC adjusters is to make sure that the minimum amount be paid out on claims, and their service generally is very antagonistic and unfriendly.  They are supposed to work for the people of BC and be helpful in our time of need, as were their predecessors, but they are anything but that. 

Work Safe BC, previously  known as Workers Compensation of BC:

Designed to bring about settlements between employers and employees who got injured on the job without going through costly court battles usually won by the employers who had more money for lawyers, and leaving badly injured workers to fend for themselves it was an excellent idea welcomed by both employers and workers. Their work almost invariably bought about safer work places without lost production.  This current newly named group is more interested in nit picking and flexing their muscles at the behest of their provincial bosses.  Has safety increased since the switch from WC to WS?  Doubt it because generally all were looking at the costs of being unsafe anyway.  But as another strong arm of the provincial government under a catchy name, as per conservative practice, the supposition that safety is more of a factor is a mute point.  I cannot say about claims as I have been fortunate enough to have avoided such a thing since about 1995.

 The Senate of Canada

For at least a decade but especially during the last 4 years, the Senate of Canada has become the last place in Canada where any nonpartisan sober second thought could be expected to take place.   Your fellow conservative Harper wanted to simply starve it to death by not appointing any new Senators (in contradiction to our constitution but what did he care), and he could do that without losing his majority hold on the votes there, whilst the NDP want to abolish the place.  Now we have a new concept on the appointment of Senators which would include public and provincial suggestions and approval.   You have publicly rejected this new concept on the grounds that BC does not have enough representation.  That is a matter for the constitution Ms. Clark and has nothing to do with the quality of those who would, should and could represent BC in the Senate of Canada.  I do not appreciate that the premier of the province in which I live is more interested in making conservative points than looking out for the people of BC, but even in my most optimistic moments I cannot expect a leopard to change its spots.

 

 That is enough for now, but believe me there are more bones, such as the health and education of my children and grandchildren, and indeed now two great grandchildren, for whom I fear for the value of their lives in BC.   You are threatening their environment ( Mount Polley mine comes to mind) as well as depriving them of the safety net social services so carefully built by WAC Bennett many years ago.

 

Jeremy Arney

BC Resident

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