Clark Turns to Blacktop Politics to Reverse Political Fortunes – Raising New Tunnel and Highway


Read this column from the Province’s Mike Smyth on BC Premier Christy Clark’s latest attempt to turn around her sagging political fortunes – this time with talk of a replacement for the George Massey Tunnel and widening the Canada 1 Highway to Alberta. (Sept. 30, 2012)

By promising to replace the congested Massey Tunnel and build a four-lane highway all the way to Alberta – with an asterisk next to the “promise,” that is – Christy Clark is going old-school on us.

Black-top politics! It’s a proud B.C. tradition, going back to the grand old days of Social Credit, and continuing with the Liberals and NDP, too.

Now Clark is proving she can buy votes with asphalt with the best of ’em.

Who wouldn’t want to escape the Massey Tunnel traffic-jam torture chamber once and for all? And a four-lane Trans-Canada Highway to the Alberta border would be sweet for drivers in the Interior.

Clark threw in a new 16th Avenue interchange for Surrey, and a whole bunch of new school and hospital projects too, in a spending-spree speech to B.C. municipal leaders.

Now, before you get too excited about all this, be aware there are a few catches.

For one thing, you’ll have to vote Liberal in the next election to get all the goodies, because none of this stuff will get built by May. In fact, you’ll probably have to vote Liberal in two or three elections, because these aren’t exactly short-term projects.

Clark said replacing the Massey Tunnel, for example, would take 10 years – yes, an entire decade – to achieve. (Never mind that they put men on the moon faster than that.)

Widening 280 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway from two lanes to four also would take a decade, she said. Speedy Gonzales, she ain’t.

Then there’s all the fine print and wriggle room attached to the “promises” as well.

On the Massey Tunnel, Clark only committed to “begin planning” the replacement of the tunnel. Would it be replaced by another tunnel or a bridge? How much would it cost? Would it be tolled?

Clark couldn’t answer any of those questions but, by God, she’s going to start planning to answer them at some point (after the election, that is.)

On the Trans-Canada, Clark said the government is prepared to spend $650 million on the project over the next 10 years. But she wants the federal government to cough up matching funds, and there’s no guarantee that will happen.

At the end of the day, you’re left with some very grand and catchy promises – and a very long and dubious road to achieving them.

And don’t forget that it was just over two weeks ago that Finance Minister Mike de Jong was telling a tale of woe about the province’s budget, and promising to cut spending to contain the deficit.

Now here’s Christy saying she’ll spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new highways, tunnels, schools and hospitals.

Does the public ever notice these contradictions?

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