Editor’s note: Peter Ross is formerly from Fernie where he was a regional director for the Regional District of East Kootenay. His letter was copied to The Valley Echo for publication.
Joe Sawchuk’s letter to Fernie’s Free Press faults me for not explaining why I think the BC Liberals have little chance of being re-elected in May 2013 and he then lists a number of occasions when the NDP has lost elections in various other provinces, apparently as the reason why they will lose next May in B.C. Well, I don’t think other provinces’ historical changing of the guard is the determining factor in who is first past the post in B.C. elections. I was going by the latest polls reported in the media and the list of present BC Liberal MLAs who have announced they are retiring (while still undefeated) and will not run in the 2013 election.
I expect the BC Liberals loss of popularity, as indicated by the polls, is a result of their failure to achieve what they promised to do, like magically increase revenue by reducing income tax; or doing something they indicated they would not, like implementing the HST.
Here is how the increase in revenue went. According to the Tyee, when the BC Liberals took over the government in 2001, they discovered the NDP had left them a surplus of $1.5 billion for that year. That could be the only significant annual surplus a B.C. government ever had. Ironically, Gordon Campbell reacted by announcing, “It’s even worse than we thought so we will have to reduce income tax even more in order to balance the budget.” Also according to the Tyee, the total provincial debt that had been accumulating since the Social Credit days was $31.8 billion in May 2001 when the BC Liberals took over.
Keith Baldry, Global’s legislative reporter, plays a part in the revenue picture because he praised the virtues of the BC Liberals leading up to 2001 election and was given some credit for the NDP defeat. He continued enthusiastically supporting the Liberals well into their second term. However, in the summer of 2009, after the BC Liberals were in their third term, I heard Mr. Baldry announce that the total provincial debt had reached $60 billion and was expected to reach $80 billion by 2013. After all his enthusiastic support, it must have been crushing for him to admit that. If our total provincial debt is $80 billion and the interest rate is five per cent, it is costing taxpayers $4 billion annually to float the loan; and $4 billion, strangely, is the average annual deficit you get going from a debt of $31.8 billion in 2001 to $80 billion in 2013.
Re-elect the Liberals, reduce income tax to the wealthy a bit more, and maybe we can pay $5 billion in interest annually. I have never heard a BC Liberal mention the total B.C. debt, but I have heard some promise to balance the budget. An annual deficit averaging $4 billion doesn’t sound balanced to me. Maybe it can be made to look smaller after they get rid of John Doyle, the present Auditor General who has had the audacity to criticize the BC Liberals’ monetary shenanigans and creative accounting.