In May 1989, the student newspaper at Simon Fraser University ran a story about embattled student union president-elect Christy Clark under the headline ‘Unfit for office?’ Clark was late paying a fine for violating election rules, and so she was removed from office.
Twenty-four years later, Christy Clark is desperately trying to avoid being kicked out of office again.
She has run a wildly dishonest campaign, consistently repeating falsehoods – whether with respect to her claims of having ‘balanced the budget’ or her projections of LNG financial windfalls.
Complementing these falsehoods about her own record and election platform, Clark’s campaign has been relentless in attacking her opposition, conjuring up stories of ghosts of past NDP governments. Clark’s campaign paints a dark picture of the 1990s, while attempting to ignore the years since 2001 altogether. No one should fall for this trick; the record of the past dozen years is too scary to forget.
The B.C. Liberals swept to power back in 2001, winning 77 of 79 seats in the legislature. From the beginning, buoyed by their super-majority, Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark, and the rest of the Liberals carried out their pro-corporate agenda with ruthlessness and mendacity.
After the HST debacle, Campbell finally left office as one of the least popular politicians in the history of Canada.
Among other things, this May’s election is a chance for B.C. voters to have their say on Gordon Campbell’s legacy, taking a sober look at the Liberals’ years in power.
Here then, in no particular order, are 10 reasons why Christy Clark and the Liberals richly deserve to be booted out of office. This could have been a much longer list.
The B.C. Liberals allowed gaping inequality to grow. Year after year, B.C. has had close to the highest rates of income inequality and child poverty in Canada. While the rich and corporations have received new tax breaks, welfare rates have remained scandalously low and social housing has received scant provincial support.
The B.C. Liberals lied and privatized BC Rail. Of the many election promises Gordon Campbell brazenly broke, this was one of the biggest. Not only did the Liberals privatize a vital public asset after saying they wouldn’t, but the BC Rail scandal and subsequent criminal trial exposed the blatant corruption of the Liberals. Two senior B.C. Liberals eventually plead guilty, and the B.C. Liberal government agreed to pay their legal fees – close to $6 million!
The B.C. Liberals’ cuts hurt the most vulnerable. While allowing social assistance rates to stay at appallingly low levels, the Liberals imposed additional cuts against the poor who live with disabilities, and reduced access to assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The B.C. Liberals made it easier to exploit child labour. Bill 37 changed the rules so that kids as young as 12 could work almost anywhere. This has made B.C. one of the worst jurisdictions in North America in terms of child labour, and led to an increase of child workplace injuries.
The B.C. Liberals ripped up union agreements. In their ideological zeal to attack working people, in 2002 the Liberals tore up contracts with health care workers. This was an unprecedented attack on the rights of workers. In 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that major parts of the Liberals’ Bill 29 were in fact unconstitutional.
The B.C. Liberals neglected parks and conservation. In 2012 the B.C. Liberals killed a plan for a new national park in South Okanagan. The move was par-for-the-course; the Liberals have systematically undermined BC Parks, among other things cutting back on park conversation officers and installing parking metres in provincial parks.
The B.C. Liberals squandered billions on boondoggles. The Liberals poured two billion dollars into building a new Port Mann bridge, while underfunding public transit; they spent half a billion dollars putting a new roof on BC Place, while failing to provide enough funding to put roofs over the homeless.
The B.C. Liberals have been boosters for Big Oil and Gas. Christy Clark’s former chief of staff was once a lobbyist for Enbridge. Clark avoided taking any stand at all on Enbridge until widespread public opposition forced her to address the issue. On the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Clark has attacked Dix and the NDP for opposing the pipeline while failing to make her own position clear.
The B.C. Liberals have given a green light to fracking. As jurisdictions around the world impose restrictions on this dangerous method of extracting gas, Clark and the Liberals won’t even support the NDP’s call for a full scientific review of fracking.
The Liberals have ignored Indigenous people’s inherent rights and opposition to mega-projects, including the Indigenous wall of opposition to the tar sands pipelines, and the Tsilhqot’in opposition to the Fish Lake copper and gold mine. And we should not forget the insulting referendum on Native rights that Campbell’s government held. Indigenous peoples deserve respect and solidarity.
Back at SFU, Christy Clark was removed from office within weeks. We’ve been stuck with her as premier for over a year. On May 14, let’s not miss our chance to get rid of Clark and this whole corrupt, right-wing government.
After a dozen years of the B.C. Liberals, enough is enough. Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are indeed unfit for office.