It’s a year now since British Columbia, true to its maverick reputation in politics, re-elected the ruling Liberal party to continue to run the province. The reigning Liberals won more seats than any other party but not enough to control the Legislature. When three Green Party MLA’s officially pledged their support to the New Democratic Party then Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon felt that with guaranteed support from the Greens John Horgan’s New Democrats offered a better chance at stability.
John Horgan became Premier Horgan, threw himself into the job with great energy and sometimes surprising “presence” and a never-ending supply of self-praising announcements when new schools, hospitals, parks or playgrounds were opened with each event a reminder that good things were happening since he was elected Premier of BC. Once in a while, a background voice would murmur he had been appointed rather than elected premier and the Green Puppy Party would yelp what they hoped sounded like a threatening bark as a reminder the Green trio holding him in place was very fragile.
By and large, as 2017 rolled into ’18 the NDP world was unfolding comfortably, although not as perfectly as a first glance might indicate.
When two new hospitals opened a matter of weeks after the election it did not escape public attention that hospitals are not planned and built overnight or even a short 12-month span. It was remembered by many that location of the new facilities to serve the Comox Valley and Campbell River had generated fierce debate locally and that the massive financing came from the taxpayers of British Columbia courtesy of the then Liberal government, not from the ribbon – cutters on hand for the Grande finale with speeches seeking praise for a new government after only a few weeks in office.
Last Thursday, May 10, the BC Ministry of Finance issued a press release announcing Moody’s credit rating agency had reaffirmed British Columbia’s status as a Triple-A credit rating holder. It holds similar status with the Standard and Poor’s and Fitch agencies and remains the only Triple-A rated province in Canada so rated by all three international accredit rating agencies. The release carries a statement from newly minted Finance Minister Carole James: “Moody’s affirmation of our Aaa rating is further validation that our plan to make life more affordable, improve services and create good jobs for people is prudent and fiscally sustainable….It signals confidence in our province and in the future of our strong economy.”
It is true that a Triple-A rating is a prized confirmation of British Columbia’s economic stability, a feather in our cap. It is also true that the recognition was not earned last year but decades ago. Premier Horgan, held in office by three Green fellow travelers, inherited a prosperous province with a sound economic base and programs. Neither he or his finance minister played a positive role in building that solid economic base.
It would be foolish to expect a newly seated government to praise too loudly – or even softly – a predecessor’s accomplishments, but it should not be beyond reason to expect the new team to boast only of its own laurels. In that way Premier Horgan and his team can claim some credit for the announcement a few days ago of a $90 million affordable housing plan to ease if not eliminate what is now a lack of housing crisis. It’s an ambitious plan with three levels of government jostling for credit with Ottawa tossing in $30 million; the province matching the federal donation with another $30 million, and the Capital Regional District (CRD) topping it up to $90 million to, claimed Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development “effectively end chronic homelessness in the capital region.”
It is a project long overdue, too long ignored but we, especially “the government” must never forget that every one of the $90 million dollars comes from taxpayers, not a magic money tree money planted and nurtured by the NDP.
Sadly it must be remembered the “choir” gathered to praise the “end to chronic homelessness in the capital region” has less than sterling reviews when staging mega construction projects. Its most recent performances – a multi-million wastewater-sewage treatment disposal system now under construction but years behind schedule and wildly over original budget, and the expensive comic opera involved in replacing an old cross-harbour bridge with a new one were disasters in budgeted cost control and construction timetables. So, while I welcome the new hymn of praise for affordable housing I shall wait a while before joining the adulation chorus – and hope I can live long enough to join it. And we should all hold the full “hallelujahs” until the last unit is built and occupied.