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BC Politics

Please Advise! What Wouldn’t Christy Clark Promise Now?

When politicians obsessed with ‘free enterprise’ suddenly care about welfare rates, you know anything goes.

Steve Burgess 21 Jun

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

The B.C. throne speech will be delivered Thursday, delivering a government agenda even though the BC Liberal regime has virtually no chance of surviving. What do you expect from the speech in such unusual circumstances?


Victoria Watcher

Dear VW,

I expect tremendous things. Imagine you could promise anything without consequences. There’s almost no chance you will have to follow through, so you are free to go nuts. What would you pledge?

You could promise to repeal the law of gravity. You could promise to build a giant border wall and make Alberta pay for it. You could promise to invent bacon-flavoured bananas. You could promise that the creation of any more Transformer or Pirates of the Caribbean movies will be punishable by death. You could vow to bring charges against local meteorologists for June 2017. You could promise that if Conrad Black wishes to write any more columns offering support for Donald Trump, he will be forced to do so using only Donald Trump’s vocabulary. You could promise that henceforward and for all time to come, two creamsicles will qualify as a nutritious breakfast. Anything!

Or if you were Premier Christy Clark, you could take a different approach. You could see this empty exercise as an opportunity to stick it to your enemies. You would do this by piously adopting worthwhile policies, such as increases in the welfare rate and disability rate, plus a proposed ban on corporate and union donations that is lifted right out of the NDP’s program.

These are of course issues you showed no significant interest in when there was some chance you might have to do something about them — quite the opposite. Actually employing such legislation to help people, and to improve the political process in B.C., is not something that seems to have occurred to your party.

Never mind the fact that by adopting these throne speech proposals — albeit only as a cynical ploy — the BC Liberals are in effect admitting that they are good policies that deserve to be implemented. No, dangling the prospect of a little more money for the disadvantaged in this province is instead a tactic, gleefully employed to score cheap points on the opposition. The plan is to force them to vote against such measures if they wish to defeat the government. Ha! Won’t the NDP and Greens look foolish and power-hungry then?

There is an idea that politics is a way to navigate disagreements on the way to real progress and real solutions for difficult problems. There is another idea that politics is nothing more than schoolyard bullshit, an amoral power struggle in which the true goal is destroying your foes at any cost. At times like this, the survival odds for that first idea seem about even with the prospects for the Vancouver Island marmot.

There are lots of different kinds of politicians. Right now the world is being treated to the spectacle of a hateful imbecile running the United States like a drunken truck driver speeding along the wrong side of a freeway. More insidiously, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is apparently able to summon a cloak of darkness like a malevolent wizard as he hides the progress of a Republican health care bill that is about health in the same way that headcheese is about cows.

By contrast, Premier Clark’s throne speech shenanigans will seem like a very small beer, a minor prank, akin to the sort of jeering and catcalling that typifies question period. But it’s all fruit of the same poison tree. It’s just politics, I suppose. It certainly isn’t anything nobler.  [Tyee]

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