burners will be eliminated."
from the Throne, 2007
had a nickel for every time a BC government has promised
to eliminate Beehive
burners, you'd have a good start towards retirement,
but why ruin a good promise by keeping it? Let's hope they
do it this time, and that their promises have more staying
power than the often said but never honoured promise to
eliminate Beehive burners.
Throne Speech, written by staff in the Premier's Office,
the Campbell government promised that a Climate Action Team
will recommend Interim targets for 2012 and 2016 that will
determine the most credible, aggressive and economically
viable targets and that a new Citizen's Conservation Council
will be established and funded. The establishment of those
advisory bodies are the only measurable results promised
in the Throne Speech to deal with global warming before
May 2009, the date of the next election. That's a major
under-achievement considering that the 6,994 word Speech
devoted 2,700 words to the environment; that is over half
the speech, when the obligatory mention of deaths since
the last speech is skipped.
Campbell government, which is forcing the twinning of the
Port Mann Bridge on the Lower Mainland as part of its controversial
Project, had the gall to say: "Electronic tolls
will help restrain traffic growth and transit funding will
work in concert with decisions to increase densities, reduce
sprawl, and reduce costs." Isn't there an apparent
contradiction between encouraging urban sprawl and traffic
growth with the Gateway Project while purporting to use
electronic tolls to control those same problems?
Speech proclaimed that: "Effective immediately, British
Columbia will become the first jurisdiction in North America,
if not the world, to require 100 per cent carbon sequestration
for any coal-fired project." That would appear to mark
the end of the two coal-fired power projects previously
given the go-ahead by the Campbell government. It's too
bad the government can't be equally remorseful about its
mistakes around the Gateway Project.
Speech from the Throne was shockingly silent on the matter
of poverty. With the exception of a small increase for the
disabled, welfare rates have been frozen for over a decade.
The Premier appointed a three person commission to review
MLA salaries and pensions because: "MLA compensation
has not received any significant increases since the recommendations
of the 1997 Citizen's Panel Report on MLA Compensation were
adopted." In fact, they have benefited from annual
indexing while welfare rates have been cut or frozen.
Speech the Campbell government acknowledged the horror of
homelessness when it said: "Homelessness is a plague
that weakens our cities, siphons our strength, and erodes
our social fabric. It weakens us all. It is unacceptable."
It then went on to put responsibility on the municipalities
with its "solution" to require municipal governments
with populations greater than 25,000 to identify and zone
appropriate sites for supportive housing and treatment facilities
for persons with mental illnesses and addictions in official
community plans by 2008. That may be part of a long term
solution in the kind of time frames used to discuss global
warming, but the private market also has a role to play,
a role it cannot play as long as people are either denied
income assistance or paid rates that remain hopelessly out
of step with market rents for even the worst accommodation.
Throne Speech wouldn't have been complete without a shot
at the sustainability of health spending. It said: "Insatiable
demands for more funding in health care have gone past the
tipping point. Left unchecked, those demands will see our
public health care system reach the breaking point, not
in decades, but in a matter of years." Perhaps the
Campbell government could check with the Canadian
Institute for Health Information and explain why data
on its website show that per capita public health spending
in BC has increased by 4.0% or less for 10 of the last 14
years. As Dr. Penny Ballem, the former Deputy Minister of
Health, said: "The
evidence doesn't support the Premier's position."