B.C. Liberals download, deflect and dictate to B.C.’s local governments

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John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Victoria: Next spring, we have a chance to build a better province.

A province that doesn’t leave people behind because of the size of their wallets. A province where economic growth is strong and sustainable, not built on a shaky foundation of overheated real estate markets.

Christy Clark and her B.C. Liberal government have divided this province, and divided the people in it. We want to bring British Columbia back together.

Last week, I spoke to local government leaders as the Union of B.C. Municipalities gathered in Victoria for its annual convention.

The theme of the conference was “Stronger Together,” and I couldn’t agree more.

But for 15 years, I’ve seen the B.C. Liberals hive off this province into factions. Rural and urban. Rich and poor. Your town and my town. I’ve seen them play one region against another, and again and again I’ve seen them cater to their wealthy donors while ignoring regular British Columbians.

When I spoke to those local leaders from across our province, I told them what a New Democrat government will do differently. That’s where it starts: New Democrats are builders. We are facilitators. We want to be at the table, working constructively and moving the province forward.

That’s not how Christy Clark and her government see it.

Their approach to local governments is threefold: download, deflect and dictate. And our communities are weaker as a result.

Just a few months ago, back when the premier was still denying that B.C. families face a crisis in affordable housing, her housing minister responded to criticism of the lack of affordable housing in the province by saying “some people just have to get up and whine every day.”

Just two weeks ago – as local governments were calling for real leadership and less politicking when it comes to transportation investment in Metro Vancouver – the B.C. Liberal minister responsible for communities and transit told regional mayors to “suck it up” and find more money themselves.

That’s not partnership. That’s divide and conquer.

Their approach to our schools is just the same. For years, they starved school board budgets, made devastating “administrative” cuts, and downloaded medical premium and hydro hikes onto school boards. This year, all those cuts and downloads reached a tipping point, and schools across the province faced closure.

But again and again, Christy Clark and her ministers failed to shoulder the blame and fix the problem. Instead, they pointed the finger at school boards, and popped up across the province with random acts of education funding designed to get rid of their bad headlines.

That’s what you get from the B.C. Liberal government. They tell local governments to “suck it up.” They tell families desperate to find an affordable home to buy or rent to “stop whining.” And when their wrongheaded priorities cause chaos, they deflect and distract with nothing but their own interests in mind.

That’s Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. But that’s not my B.C.

We need a government that will restore people’s faith in the ability of government to make life better and make change happen. To invest in our future. To come to the table with new ideas. To make our economy work for all of us, not just a fortunate few.

Governing is about choices, and a New Democrat government will make different choices than the Christy Clark Liberals.

We will put British Columbians first in everything we do, and we will do that each and every day, not just in the months leading up to an election.