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BC bloggers give hostile reviews to Throne Speech

The B.C. blogosphere, while awaiting next week's budget, has given the Throne Speech a strongly negative response. No one, right or left, is delighted with the speech's preview of our future.

Retired journalist Harvey Oberfeld called it War on the Middle Class:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out all this will impact low and middle class wage earners (especially young families) more than the very wealthy. (The red herring [in] this Throne Speech is the promise of full-day kindergarten to be implemented next year: more likely their next broken promise.)

...The Throne Speech spells out clearly the destruction and pain that lies ahead for them (along with the NDP’s traditional supporters, of course) and yet, brazenly and openly promises benefits to the very rich and large business corporations that bankrolled the Liberals in the last election.

Paul Willcocks said the speech was "a million miles from campaign promises":

First, Gordon Campbell has maintained that over the last eight years government has been pared down to the essentials. Further cuts must come at the expense of those essentials.

Second, it is widely accepted that government spending in a downturn is a way of cushioning the impact. Stimulus spending isn't just about building highways - it's also about keeping people working in communities.

And third, the government has no mandate for this type of change.

A Town Called Podunk said the speech harked back not only to 2001, but to a generation earlier:

It offers up a return to the early days of Gordon Campbell's Premiership, which we remember was highlighted by a rather intense review of all government departments and significant restructuring and cost cutting of the day.

Those days seemed to bring the province the closest it had come to the 1980's and the days of Bill Bennett vs the province's unions in what became a rather dramatic showdown under the Solidarity banner.

Northern BC Dipper live-blogged the Throne Speech and then offered an overview:

It seems to me that the BC Liberals are going to have to choose between its old pet issues and its new (old) desire to cut government services, and with the many recent announcements in regards to service cuts, we can probably guess what the BC Liberals have chosen.

Just Right took strong issue with the "Climate bullcrap in the BC Throne Speech," not to mention the HST and the carbon tax.

Policy wonks were unimpressed with the speech as well. David Schreck, also no fan of the HST, wrote:

It was probably too much to hope that Premier Campbell would use today's Speech from the Throne to apologize for misleading British Columbians before and during the election.

The Throne Speech described the HST decision as "difficult and rapid". Those who believe that might also believe that the government had no idea about the state of B.C.'s economy and government finances before the election when Campbell promised a deficit no bigger than $495 million and surpluses by 2011-2012.

At the brand-new blog Policy Note, Iglika Ivanova said "The throne speech missed the point":

Instead of presenting an ambitious stimulus plan to speed up economic recovery and help those hardest hit by the recession, the throne speech makes much of the need for government to "live within its means" and includes alarmist warning about the dangers of "borrow[ing] our way into oblivion" and the supposed great burdens to the next generation that would result from deficit spending today.

Let me set the record straight: temporary, recession-driven deficits do not threaten the longer-term health of provincial finances.

The deficit that the province now faces is a direct result of the recession; it's what economists call a cyclical deficit. As economic conditions deteriorate, lower personal incomes and business profits lower tax revenues, while government spending increases to meet the growing need for welfare and other transfers to low-income people, creating a budget deficit. However, these deficits will all but disappear when BC recovers from the recession as tax revenues grow (boosted by higher incomes and profits), while spending on social supports declines (as fewer people need them).

The actual budget speech next week should bring further comments, but probably no change in B.C. bloggers' negative attitude toward the Campbell government.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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