The item below the line was first published in June 2016. If you haven’t heard the audio clip below, spend a moment listening. It proves that Liberals are not the first government to boast about surpluses while debt was climbing rapidly. It’s just a matter of deciding what you count as spending.
After almost 7 months without debates, the BC Legislature resumed February 14. Liberals are interrupting their fundraising for a slightly different type of political activity.
Bob Mackin listened the Throne Speech and confirms that Liberals continue to be uninterested in a style that seemed so important years ago.
The BC Liberal 2001 election platform had 37 references promising improved democracy, increased accountability and open government. Its 2013 platform had none, because Liberals lost interest in those goals.
If ever any party strayed far from principles that first got it elected government, it is the one led today by Christy Clark. If you doubt my assertion, read through A New Era for British Columbia. That document was prepared by Gordon Campbell and his associates. Some will believe that it was a pack of lies from the start. Others would argue — excepting the page 9 promise to “not sell or privatize BC Rail” — that the Liberal Party started with good intentions and lost its way, corrupted by wealth and power.
In the 2001 platform, Liberals complained of “skyrocketing” debt growth under the NDP. They misstated the numbers but provincial debt did grow by $14 billion over a decade of NDP administration.
In 2013, Liberals promised “Debt-Free B.C.” but instead we’ve seen debt growth that has been more like a supernova than a skyrocket. I’ve used provincial reports that include total provincial debt and contractual obligations, which have grown dramatically since first being publicly reported.
Liberals claim to be delivering “balanced” budgets but the province’s financial obligations increased $72 billion in the last six years, more than the provincial debt in the BC’s first 135 years. Liberal claims of balance rely on accounting fashioned to mislead voters. It results in absurd situations such as:
- including “dividends” from BC Hydro as revenue, although the utility has to borrow the money shifted into provincial accounts;
- dividing expenditures into ordinary (operating) and extraordinary (capital) expenses and counting only the former as a budgetary expense.
I mentioned in a recent CFAX1070 broadcast that, while travelling through BC’s hinterlands, I had been listening to an audio history of the French Revolution. It is work done by American historian Mike Duncan and this is an excerpt from Episode 3.4- of Revolutions, available at his website or through iTunes. Duncan talks about Louis XVI official Jacques Necker and the Compte rendu. You will recognize a similarity to British Columbia today.
Amounts shown here are extracted from annual reports of British Columbia Public Accounts, consolidating total provincial debt and contractual obligations revealed in notes to the financial statements signed by the Auditor General. Numbers are adjusted to current dollars by using Bank of Canada inflation calculator. Per capita debt is calculated using population estimates issued by BC Stats.