George Orwell: Politics and the English Language (1946)
Political language …is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
Recently, I participated with Dermod Travis of Integrity BC and others in a Twitter exchange about British Columbia’s provincial debt.
To most of us, particularly when we sit before an inquiring banker, the concept of personal indebtedness is uncomplicated. However, when a BC Liberal speaks of debt, refer to George Orwell’s statement shown above.
The Auditor General adds taxpayer-supported debt and self-supported debt and the total is called Total Provincial Debt. In addition, the A-G reports “the minimum amounts required to satisfy the contractual obligations, for contractual obligations that are greater than $50 million, by sector, by year.” The amounts are for multiyear contracts for services and construction of assets.
British Columbia’s public accounts only began reporting contractual obligation in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, which is about when government became serious about financing projects through public-private partnerships and BC Hydro was signing massive IPP contracts.
Proving Orwell correct, Christy Clark’s team talks not about a massive growth in public debt and debt-like obligations, it says what it did in the Throne Speech on February 14:
…your government is on track to be free of any operating debt by 2021. For the first time in 40 years, children born that year will no longer be asked to pay for the burdens that our generation has placed upon them…
I won’t bore readers with an accountant’s discussion of what is and what is not debt but I will present two charts, created from information disclosed by the Auditor General and with estimates for fiscal years 2017-2019 from the province’s most recent Budget and Fiscal Plan.