When Kevin Falcon presented his budget, corporate media cheerleaders turned immediately to the reliables for comment — people like John Winter (BC Chamber of Commerce), Jock Finlayson (BC Business Council) and Phil Hochstein (Independent Contractors and Businesses Association).
Vancouver Sun writer Jonathan Fowlie quoted John Winter as saying the budget is “very responsible.” At the BC Chamber of Commerce website, Winter’s organization had much more to say:
The BC Chamber of Commerce today offers its support for this disciplined Budget 2012 which maintains spending increases at appropriate levels and protects taxpayers from future shocks.
This prudent budget will relieve taxpayers from additional pressures and mitigates against external risk. The Government is to be commended for its responsibility in holding the line on spending and bringing a targeted approach to spending increases in the specific areas of health, education, justice and social supports.”
Of course, John Winter, CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, knows how the game is played. If you treat friends well, there will be benefits.
So comments that Jonathan Fowlie reported in the Vancouver Sun were both predictable and pointless. When the Chamber of Commerce approves a targeted approach to spending increases, targets they have in mind are the Chamber and its members. As a matter of fact, John Winter’s organization has been a substantial beneficiary of Liberal government spending in recent years. No doubt, much of this was reward for supporting the government’s fight against citizens in the HST battles.
BC Liberals didn’t end the taxpayers generosity with financing for John Winter’s provincial organization. Local Chambers of Commerce are regular recipients of further grants of cash. By looking through the Public Accounts reports, I listed payments in excess of $25,000 to various Chambers. It is obvious that Chambers of Commerce in communities with the foresight to elect BC Liberals had a considerably better chance of being offered a government grant. This is the list for the years ended March 31, 2010 and 2011.