OPINION: With One Year Until Next BC Election, British Columbians Deserve Better Than Empty Promises

By John Horgan

Leader BC New Democrat Official Opposition

As far as I’m concerned, May 2017 can’t come soon enough. That’s when British Columbians get to go to the polls and decide who will lead this province – and I believe they are going to vote for change.

In the last week, a lot of people who pay attention to politics have been asking what they can expect to see from me in the year ahead. It’s simple: I’m going to be talking to people about what matters to them.

I think this election should be about the things that matter to British Columbians. The kind of issues that my neighbours talk about in their driveways. The kind of issues that affect your family budget, your kids’ education, the care your parents and grandparents receive.

Because when people in this province go into that booth and get ready to mark their “X,” they should know what that vote will mean for their daily life.

Christy Clark doesn’t want this kind of election, because she doesn’t want to talk about issues that matter to British Columbians, and she sure doesn’t want to talk about her dismal record on issues like these.

That’s because since she has become premier, life in this province has gotten harder. While the premier has doled out tax breaks to millionaires, travelled across the province by private jet, and collected a $50,000 second paycheque for her work as a key fundraising draw for the B.C. Liberal Party, people across the province have been struggling.

They have seen rising hydro rates and MSP premiums eating away at their family budgets, and if they live in Metro Vancouver, they have seen this government standing by while a runaway real estate market priced out all but the very wealthiest.

They have seen their provincial government fail in its duty to provide stable care to the frail elderly, and fail utterly in its promise to provide every British Columbian with a doctor by the end of 2015.

And they have seen schools in their communities being forced to defer seismic upgrades that would protect our kids, or close their doors entirely, because of this government’s budget cuts.

Christy Clark has spent so long sitting with her friends at exclusive $20,000-per-plate fundraisers that she has lost touch with real British Columbians and what matters to them.

Just look at what happened when British Columbians told her they were fed up with big money in politics.

Polls have told us that up to 86 per cent of people in this province support a ban on union and corporate donations before the next election. New Democrats have called for that ban – in fact, we have introduced legislation to ban big money from B.C. politics five times – and independent MLAs have supported such a ban.

But Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals, which receive 66 per cent of their funding from corporations and businesses? They’ve flatly refused to address this issue because, as Province columnist Michael Smyth put it, “They don’t want to kill the goose that’s laying all their golden eggs.”

Christy Clark may not want to talk about the issues that are important to British Columbians in the lead-up to this election, but chances are, she’ll roll out some big promises.

British Columbians aren’t likely to forget what her last election promises amounted to, though: not much. Those promises included a debt-free province and a thriving LNG industry with 100,000 new jobs. The reality? No LNG, and record debt.

British Columbians deserve better than empty promises and a premier who is just looking out for her friends, her party and herself.

People in this province deserve a premier that’s there for them, and a government that is going to put real British Columbians back at the heart of everything we do.

That’s why for me, and for so many in this province, May 2017 can’t come soon enough.

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