Strategic Thoughts

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July 15, 2009

Misrepresentations or a Pack of Lies?

Evidence is mounting that the recent BC Liberal election victory was based on misrepresentation at best and a pack of lies at worst.BC Progress Board Rankings

Bill Tieleman, in his article in The Tyee, pointed to Campbell's words about budgets, including his self-righteousness in 1996 compared to his hypocrisy in 2009. By now everyone knows that Campbell's claims about the state of BC's finances during the recent election were nonsense. Statistics on escalating welfare caseloads were suppressed and a recently leaked government document reveals that government expects those caseloads not to peak until June 2010. Many believe information on collapsing government revenues was also withheld from the public. Finance Minister Collin Hansen maintains that he didn't learn about collapsing income tax revenues until June 24th, but private sector economists were talking about massive BC deficits long before the Minister of Finance woke up.

Campbell's hand-picked BC Progress Board has released its Interim 2009 Benchmarking Report showing BC slipping to 9th place ranking on the economy. BC continues to rank first on the environment and health outcomes, as it did before Campbell came to power. According to the Progress Board, on its Number One Core Target, per person constant dollar gross domestic product growth (real per capita GDP growth): "BC's growth rate was slightly below the national average in 2007 and well below in 2008."

population, GDP and per cap GDP growthReal per capita GDP growth goes down if population grows faster than the economy. The graph shown here, using data taken from BC Stats, shows that in the 1990s BC's economy grew but in many years, due to record high population growth rates, per capita GDP declined. Since Campbell came to power, BC's population growth rate has fallen to historic lows. Some falsehoods are repeated often enough that people begin to believe them, for example characterizations of the 1990s. The truth about BC population growth is the opposite of the picture painted by those who claim people fled BC in the 90s. Likewise the truth about economic growth, as shown by the graph, is that unlike 2008 which had negative real growth there was no year of negative real growth in the 90s, and many years of significant positive growth. Having the facts won't change the propaganda pumped out during election campaigns, frequently using our tax dollars on government ads. The data show that apart from some good fortune in 2005 and 2006, the Campbell government has not performed nearly as well as it claims.

Politics and policy should be about the future. When history is used each side cherry-picks. It is time for the BC Liberals to stop misrepresenting the 90s, and it is time for the NDP to talk about the economy. Campbell's misrepresentation of BC's recession should have been attacked during the election campaign.

It is possible that more revelations will be made about information that was suppressed during the election campaign, but that probably will have little or no influence on how anyone votes in 2013. Hopefully, this record can be used in 2013 to minimize future misrepresentations.


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