Rafe Mair: What I Want from Next BC Government


I was recently asked by a reader what it is I want, presumably in the way of government.

I’m not so naïve as to think I’ll ever be satisfied, but neither is anyone else. Unless we’re members of a party or one of its cheerleaders we understand that human institutions will contain the human frailties we all have.

First, I want an understanding of this simple proposition – the NDP in the 90s were hit by the failure of the Thai baht, which crippled our forestry industry, thus our provincial coffers. The NDP had no notice of this event nor did anyone else. During their time in office, the BC Debt increased two fold.

On the other hand, the Liberals suffered from the crash of the stock market and a fairly deep recession. They did or ought to have had notice of this. All the signs were there. The longest Bull Market in history. Bad mortgages being bundled as “securities”. An over-heated economy. If the BC Ministry of Finance didn’t report the obvious signs, they should have been cashiered to a person. Or, more likely, if the Finance Minister didn’t demand the key figures on a regular basis, or didn’t report the truth to the cabinet, he should have been cashiered. But I go further – it wasn’t just the Minister of Finance who had that obligation but Treasury Board. I’ve been there and know how the system is supposed to work.

During the Liberal years the provincial debt and other hidden “taxpayer obligations” – which are a debt, just by another name – have more than quadrupled!

Secondly, I want a government of people for people, not political hacks governing for the few.

During the Liberal era, we’ve seen the privatization of BC Ferries, the giveaway of BC Rail and the essential bankruptcy of BC Hydro.

Let’s deal with the latter. And I suggest that the main reason the Campbell/Clark Government hasn’t been more answerable for Hydro is that no one can believe that any government could be so goddamned stupid as to force BC Hydro to take private power, whether they need it or not, at more than double the market price and up to ten times more expensively than Hydro can make it itself. BC Hydro has gone from being the jewel in our crown to a faded rose that owes private companies about $60 BILLION, which will be paid off by the taxpayer.

That, sad to relate, is not the only bit of bad news from Hydro, which is fixing to build Site “C” as an $8 billion dollar support of the natural gas industry and its commitment to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This will be done notwithstanding the distinct possibility that there will be no long term international need of our gas. Site “C” will destroy more than 4,000 hectares of some of the finest farmland in the country. This isn’t supposition – Premier Clark has dedicated Site “C” power to the making of LNG.

Thirdly, I want a government that cares about the environment. The Liberals are very good at saying they are for the environment but that sort of Orwellian bafflegab ought not to fool anyone.

It is they who are responsible for the death and disease to our wild salmon by farmed Atlantic salmon cages.

Not only have the Liberals not stood against sending bitumen in pipelines across our province – they have, through the premier’s mouth, supported one for David Black’s proposed refinery in Kitimat. It follows from this that the Clark government supports oil tanker traffic in at least three ports in BC, including the port of Vancouver.

I want a government committed to the preservation of farmland – not one that gives it away in Delta and destroys it in Peace River country.

I want a government that is committed in fact to the concerns of First Nations.

I want a government that does not spend public money on party business.

I want a different attitude than expounding tenets of the Fraser Institute, where help for people is given grudgingly and then only because they must; I want a government that looks after people because it is the right thing to do.

Finally, I’m just tired of this bunch. Perhaps it’s BC Rail and the private power bust-up of BC Hydro that has me most upset. These two acts were not a mistake…or perhaps just a deal that didn’t work out. The former wouldn’t pass the most elementary smell test and the latter is plainly a pay-off to pals. In both cases the damage to our economy has been enormous and in the latter case ongoing.

If nothing else, it’s time for this bunch to sit in the sin-bin and watch for awhile.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

1 thought on “Rafe Mair: What I Want from Next BC Government

  1. Saturday, 27 April 2013 15:27 posted by Sue Stroud

    Your a good man Rafe Mair, keep speaking out. Some of us in a political party do know it’s not perfect and we can’t offer everything, but the true test should be are we trying, are our members putting forth good resolution that will help push issues forward and create good policy? Do we hold our leadership accountable? I’m an NDPer and I believe we are an honest group of citizens trying to do the best we can for our communities and our province. When we don’t get it right we try to fix it. If my party ever stopped listening to all the voices trying to be heard, that is when I would give up. We’re not BIG UNION or BIG POLITICS we’re just your friends and neighbours.

    Wednesday, 10 April 2013 16:35 posted by KWD

    The growth-in-debt problem is a non-issue. Debt is responsible for all of the innovation and technological advancement folks in the developed world enjoy. The real issue around debt is who controls and receives the benefits.

    In an egalitarian world the struggle with debt would be shouldered equitably by everyone. Unfortunately in a world controlled by corporate lackeys debt is carried by taxpayers, particularly those that are unable to hide their wealth.

    Tuesday, 09 April 2013 16:22 posted by Ron S.

    Raif I think you and I want the same. Let me add one more. All the perpetrators of this fraud and give away should testify at a JUDICIAL inquiry and if found guilty, be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and spend the next 12 years in jail. After all, that’s how much time the people have endured this rape of our province.

    Tuesday, 09 April 2013 12:49 posted by Hugh

    The Fraser Institute is an excellent resource to help government formulate good policies.

    Whatever F.I. recommends, do the exact opposite.

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