I did write earlier that my hiatus might be interrupted if the good ship BC Liberal, foundering in the sea of inveracity, appeared finally ready to go under with all hands aboard. That moment has arrived.
Documents newly released through FOI make it certain that a campaign of lies, considered and centrally controlled, has been underway since the day smirking Campbell and simpering Hansen announced HST as a fait accompli. Have Liberals become careless, moronic or both? These documents suggest the all-inclusive option.
We can only wonder if they abandoned principles, or whether they ever had any. No one is surprised about Campbell but I find it sad that Colin Hansen, supposedly an honorable man before government, made his Faustian bargain. Perhaps through this, Hansen will learn one of life’s hardest lessons, that is a person’s ethics on and off the job cannot be separated.
Mark Twain, one of my favorite iconoclasts provides advice to politicians. Our erstwhile friends in Victoria learned well when Twain wrote:
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Campbell and Hansen have had their facts straight on HST. They appointed proxies to negotiate with Ottawa and Ontario. They also knew the immediate political damage that HST implementation would cause if announced before the 2009 election. These arrogant politicians had lied so often with success, the course was clear. Proceed as you wish, but distort the facts with impunity when pretending to be accountable to the public.
The Campbell government has moved slowly on all other matters of policy. Remember when First Nations reconciliation was a priority? Reform of policing in British Columbia, urgently needed, has been studied and delayed for years. Major revisions to the School Act, kicking around endlessly, were shelved in 2010 because the government lacks courage and credibility for another divisive campaign to please right wing ideologues.
Nothing significant happens quickly in government. Civil servants study simple programs extensively, analyzing strengths and weaknesses. Politicians might be impulsive in announcements but never in implementation of major policies.
The Liberal leaders wanted us to believe that, with no political direction, civil servants pressed forward to implement a fundamental policy change and failed to discuss the massive tax change with any elected authority, but within days of the election, they went to their political masters and the stage was irreversibly set for HST to be effective in weeks.
Newly released documents prove Colin Hansen was indeed notified in writing of ongoing negotiations well before the election. He claims he did not read the memos and never spoke with his loyal deputies about their unusual activities. As I said before, “Colin Hansen, your pants are smokin’.”