The country’s pokiest Top Ten List for 2013 continues its merry, snail-like pace. Oh, for a deadline, now that 2014 is here. Just six more not-so-great things by the Clark government and it will all be done, on earth as it is on Mickleblog. To think I complained about the lack of a fall session. For those who have lost track, you can access previous installments of my list of government misdeeds in 2013 here and here. And, to remind you that I do indeed have a soft heart, my list of good government deeds is right here. of Now, where were we? Oh, yes, number 5.
5. How’s that good old Job Plans going? Well, not so good. It turns out that B.C., instead of creating well-paying jobs, has lately been actually shedding full-time positions in the private sector. At the same time, more people are fleeing the province for other parts of Canada than are arriving here from God-knows-where in this great land of ours. I don’t think that’s from despair over the Canucks’ woeful power play.
However, fair-minded fellow that I am, I don’t blame Christy Clark and the Liberals for the basic failure to date of the Premier’s paltry, but ultra-hyped Jobs Plan. Mostly, it’s the fault of the province’s relatively-lacklustre economy and the accelerating tendency of employers to invest in part-time employment, rather than full-time jobs.
The Liberals can’t really be yelled at for that. The ability of provincial governments to affect the basic economy is minimal at best, despite all the rhetoric. We all know the routine: healthy economy, governments take credit; stumbling economy, governments blame external forces. “That’s the reality of the Western world,” sighed Clark, in one of her year-end interviews. Guess which economy she was talking about.
No, what puts the ongoing Jobs Plan on my list of government misdeeds leading to the 2013 “chateau bow-wow” was all that irritating, tub-thumping hyperbole over the Liberals’ vaunted employment scheme. Remember that ridiculous rallying cry: Canada Starts Here. I was never quite sure what that meant. (Newfoundland, anyone?) But apparently, we were “gonna” show the rest of the country how it’s done. Number one in economic growth. Number one in job creation. Blah, blah, bloody blah. Of course, no such thing has happened. Tempting it is to paraphrase Gertrude Stein’s pithy description of her hometown, when assessing ‘Canada Starts Here’: “There’s no here, here.” But hey, how about that election?
It’s all part of the Christy Clark style of perpetual campaigning: repeat something over and over again, complete with simplistic slogan. If it doesn’t work out, who really cares? The point is to say it as if you believe it. Add hard hat and spin. And, lo and behold, if it does actually show some results, well: “Oh, what a good girl am I!” To which I say: “Phooey!”
6. There is lots of blame to share in the abject waste of millions of dollars on services for young aboriginals, as detailed by the province’s no-nonsense, children and youth representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. In her customary blunt manner – and I mean that in a good way, Turpel-Lafond concluded in a scathing report released late last year: “More than $66 million has been spent without any functional public policy framework, no meaningful financial or performance accountability, and without any actual children receiving additional services because of these expenditures.” A truly shocking indictment.
For the Liberals, the matter is a collective responsibility, inherited by the current government. At the same time, native authorities, themselves, have by and large failed to demonstrate accountability for the large sums they receive to improve child youth services on reserves. So, as with the stuttering of the jobs plan, this is certainly not all Christy Clark’s faul. But the situation has continued on her watch. It’s long past time to take this complex, difficult issue head on and do something to make it better. Let’s have less money tossed into structures and process and much more into services for those in need.
The dire reality was underscored on Thursday with the release of another heart-rending report by Turpel-Lafond, this one on the tragic suicide of an abused 14-year old girl on a First Nations reserve up north. She concludes: “The story of this girl’s short life is painful to learn. The Representative appreciates that many British Columbians will find it unbelievable that what happened to her could be allowed to occur in our province, with its legal and other protections for the safety of children.
“It is a story of a virtual collapse of a system of services – or more accurately, a story of the shadow cast over the lives of many girls and boys on-reserve where there is no opportunity to bring out what is going on in their lives in a way that connects them to supports or services.” Read it, and weep. Then, get angry.
Herewith, an excellent column by the Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason on the subject, followed by Turpel-Lafond’s comprehensive, earlier report last November.
7. The growing tendency for government communications people to respond with emailed statements, rather than make themselves or their ministers available for real questions. “In an emailed statement, spokesman Bloggs reiterated government policy, without addressing the issue at hand.” Reminds me of the long-standing tradition of ministers, whenever they are accused of underspending on certain services, to point how much the government has spent on these particular services since 2001, as if the fact that they spent anything at all shows what good folks they are. ‘nuff said.
It should be pointed out that there are some excellent communications people over in Victoria, and thankfully, some ministers remain quite good at getting back to reporters. The overall trend, however, is worrisome. Of course, the B.C. Liberals are hardly alone in this disturbing reliance on response by email. The federal Tories are far worse. But this is a B.C. list, so boo!
To be continued….(sigh)