Campbell: Year in Review

Here’s a (biased) look back at Gordon Campbell’s first year in office:

BC NDP Newswire – May 17, 2002

GORDON CAMPBELL AND THE BC LIBERALS: A YEAR OF brOKEN PROMISES

1. Gordon Campbell promised his tax cuts would pay for themselves — but
they’ve created the largest deficit in BC history.

2. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t cut our health care — but he’s
closing hospitals, cutting beds, laying off nurses and health care workers,
and privatizing services.

3. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t cut our education system — but
schools are closing, class sizes are increasing, programs are being
eliminated and teachers are getting laid off.

4. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t slash our public services — but
he’s started the largest public service layoffs in Canadian history and he’s
cutting programs by an average of 25 per cent.

5. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t rip up signed contracts — but
that’s exactly what he did.


6. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t reduce the minimum wage — but he
invented a new “training wage” that’s 2 dollars an hour lower.

7. Gordon Campbell promised that the most dramatic tax cuts would go to
people making less than $60,000 — but the riches 5% of British Columbians
received 40% of all the tax cut money.

8. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t reduce welfare — but he’s cut
benefits and made it harder to qualify for assistance.

9. Gordon Campbell promised there would be an expansion of gambling — but
he’s approved 1200 new slot machines and budgeted for a 40% increase in
gambling revenue.

10. Gordon Campbell promised to run the most open and accountable government
in Canada — but they’ve shut down or reduced funding for independent
offices, restricted the flow of information and failed to consult British
Columbians on important decisions.

11. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t download costs onto municipalities
— but he’s stuck municipalities with greater costs for policing, access to
justice, and MSP premium increases.

12. Gordon Campbell promised to put the needs of children first by providing
adequate funding — but he’s cut $490 million from the budget for the
Ministry of Child and Family Development, and eliminated the independent
office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate.

13. Gordon Campbell promised he wouldn’t privatize health care services —
but he’s turning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of services over to
the private sector and looking at building a private hospiral in Abbotsford.

Background

When Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals were running for election last
year, they made a lot of promises — including a promise that they would
keep their promises. “If elected, a Gordon Campbell government will serve
you and all British Columbians with honour, respect and integrity. We will
keep our commitments and our MLAs will always remain accountable to you.”
(New Era, Page 33)

More recently, they’ve reminded voters to hold them accountable to their
“New Era” election promises. “If it’s a covenant between us, then we’re
bound to keep those commitments. Why make promises if you don’t intend to
carry through on them.” (Christy Clark, Vancouver Sun, December 12, 2001)

But things haven’t turned out very well. Only a few months after taking
power, people started to suggest that the New Era election commitments
weren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. “That document was a political
fraud and economic nonsense.” (Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, January 19,
2002)

That’s because Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals have broken several major
election promises. And it seem like there are more every day.

1. They promised their tax cuts would pay for themselves.

Again and again, Gordon Campbell assured us that there would be no need for
deep cuts to public services because his huge tax cut would pay for itself.
“Lower taxes mean higher incomes for all taxpayers. And that will mean more
jobs, more taxpayers and ultimately more revenue to improve the public
services you want and need.” (New Era, Page 5)

Instead, the Campbell’s tax cut blew a $1.9 billion hole in provincial
revenues. Now British Columbians are paying for it with the deepest public
service cuts in Canadian history, closed hospitals and schools, and
increased fees for everything from Medical Service Plan premiums to ferry
rates.

“The self-inflicted deficit has forced the Liberals into spending cuts and
staff reductions beyond anything attempted previously in this province.”
(Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun, November 21, 2001)

2. They promised they wouldn’t cut our health care.

Throughout the election campaign, and all through the New Era document,
Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals promised that they would improve our
public health care system by “improving the supply of health care providers”
(New Era page 24), and ensuring that “people have the health care they need,
when they need it, where they live.” (New Era page 21)

Instead, the BC Liberals have cut staff at the Ministry of Health, closed
hospitals and cut acute-care beds in communities around the province, and
laid off nurses and health care workers.

“The Liberals didn’t say anything during the election campaign about closing
hospitals, lengthening surgery waiting lists…” (Michael Smyth, Vancouver
Province, March 8, 2002)

“After insisting as recently as last November that they would not lay off
nurses, [Health Minister Colin] Hansen acknowledged yesterday he’s set to do
just that.” (Michael Smyth, Vancouver Province, April 18, 2002)

Now doctors and health care professionals are warning that wait times will
increase and patient care will deteriorate.

“…BC doctors are warning that government spending cuts have launched a
spiralling crisis in health care.” (Vancouver Province, April 11, 2002)

“We’re in trouble. We’re raising the red flag now to tell you early on that
these cuts are going to have terrible impacts down the road.” (Dr Joanne
Young, Vancouver Sun, April 11, 2002)

“It’s going to be so crowded. It’s going to be mayhem….It’s going to mean
lives, because I can see our emergency ward not working as efficiently.”
(Dr. Ernie Murakami, Medical chief of staff, Fraser Canyon Hospital,
Vancouver Sun, May 6, 2002)

3. They promised they wouldn’t cut education.

Gordon Campbell promised that he could cut taxes and still keep his
“commitment to balance the budget and protect health care and education
funding.” (New Era page 10). During the election campaign, he assured the
B.C. School Trustees Association a Liberal government would not cut
education funding. “You can count on it, you can guarantee it, it’s not
going to happen,” he said. (CBC, April 21, 2001)

But since then, the Liberals imposed a three-year funding freeze on our
education system. Because of inflation and increasing costs, school boards
are left with no choice but to cut programs, close schools and lay off
thousands of teachers. Class sizes are increasing, and children in some
communities will have to be bussed up to 80 kilometres each way to get to
school.

“Protected is not an accurate reflection — it’s just a play on words. Cuts
are happening, and they are happening in the classroom. Schools are going
down.” (BC School Trustees Assocation President Gordon Comeau, Vancouver
Province, April 28)

“Burnaby school trustees want an apology from Premier Gordon Campbell for
breaking his promise not to cut education funding.” (Vancouver Province,
March 27, 2002)

“School boards across BC are proposing to close as many as 57 public schools
at the end of the school year to balance their budgets, according to a
survey by the BC Teachers Federation. The survey also found 1,857 teaching
positions will be cut.” (Vancouver Province, May 7, 2002)

“In Terrace, a brand-new $3.2 million elementary school will be closed. In
Wells, Children will have to bus 80 kilometres each way to the nearest
school in Quesnel.” (Vancouver Province, May 7, 2002)

4. They promised they wouldn’t slash our public service.

Gordon Campbell and his colleagues went out of their way to assure us that
they wouldn’t cut jobs in the public service.

“Our goal is not to go in and slash the public service,” said Campbell in
March 2001. Christy Clark said “… we’re not planning massive layoffs in
the civil service.” (Voice of the Province, February 14, 2001) While seeking
votes from government workers and small-business owners in Victoria Beacon
Hill, Jeff Bray told concerned “There’s not going to be massive job cuts.”
(Victoria Times-Colonist, April 26, 2001) And Sheila Orr, who also needed to
win votes from workers concerned about the future of their jobs, said “I
have made it very, very clear. We have no intention of going out and firing
the public service. (Victoria News, April 25, 2001)

But we all know what happened once the Liberals managed to win their seats.
Even though BC has the second-leanest public service in Canada, one-third of
all public service workers — some 12,000 people — will be laid off in the
next three years.

5. They promised they wouldn’t rip up signed contracts.

In November 2000, Gordon Campbell assured the Health Employees’ Union that
he would respect agreements that had been negotiated and signed by public
service workers and their employers. “I am not tearing up any agreements,”
he assured the HEU’s newspaper.

Fast forward to January 2002, and Gordon Campbell is ripping up the very
agreement he promised not to touch. “…he promised not to rip up this
agreement — and went ahead and did it anyway,” said the Vancouver Sun.
(January 29, 2002) He didn’t even try to negotiate first. Now how can anyone
trust a deal signed by the government ?

“If the government’s aim is to increase business confidence, tearing up
contracts, even labour contracts, isn’t the way to do it.” (Editorial,
Victoria Times-Colonist, December 6, 2001)

6. They promised they wouldn’t reduce the minimum wage.

But they didn’t say anything about creating a new “training wage” that’s $2
less.

“What’s the likelihood that a Liberal government will reduce the minimum
wage?” asked reporter Charlie Smith in the April 19, 2001 edition of the
Georgia Straight. Campbell replied: “I would say it would be zero.”

“…they didn’t say anything about a training wage. it think it’s really
deceitful and dishonest,” said Grade 12 Oak Bay high school student Hilary
Gibson-Wood to the Victoria Times-Colonist on November 9, 2001.

7. They promised the most dramatic tax cuts would go to people making
$60,000 or less

But they gave an even bigger tax cut to those making more than $60,000. In
fact, the richest 5% of British Columbians received 40% of all the tax cut
money.

“British Columbians earning $60,000 or less are the ones who are going to
benefit the most.” (Gary Collins, Vancouver Sun, April 23, 2001)

“[Campbell] hatcheted the top three brackets, something he never mentioned
in his bid for the premier’s office. On the contrary, when the New Democrats
accused the Liberals of secretly planning tax cuts for “the rich” – the top
three brackets apply to people making more than $60,000 a year — the
Liberals complained that the NDP was misleading the public.” (Vaughn Palmer,
Vancouver Sun, June 7, 2001)

8. They promised they wouldn’t reduce welfare rates.

Gordon Campbell’s New Era booklet promises “compassion for those in need.”
More specifically, Campbell told the Georgia Straight that “We have no
intention of reducing welfare rates.” (April 19, 2001)

But on April 1, 2002, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals cut social
assistance for single parents, employable couples, and people between 55 and
64.

They also eliminated the earnings exemption for most people, discontinued
work-entry assistance and transition-to-work assistance, made it harder for
social assistance recipients to receive a child care subsidy, made
eligibility tougher for families and students, and will now force single
mothers to seek work when their children are only three years old.
Employable recipients who haven’t found work in two years will be cut off
welfare altogether if they have no children, while those who are single
parents will lose an additional $100 off their cheque.

“More people sleeping on the streets, more crime, more squeegee people, and
more violence are among some of the consequences [Vancouver police inspector
Ken Frail] anticipates as people are cut off welfare, have their welfare
reduced, or no longer receive refugee hardship funds.” (Francis Bula,
Vancouver Sun, February 23, 2002)

9. They promised to end gambling expansion.

On page 26 of the New Era, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals promised to
“Stop the expansion of gambling that has increased gambling addiction and
put new strains on families.

But now they’re budgeting for a 40 per cent increase in revenue from
gambling, and in January they approved 1,200 new slot machines.

“The B.C. cabinet endorsed on Wednesday a proposal that could see 1,200 new
slot machines in the province even though the government promised never to
expand gambling.” (Dirk Meissner, Vancouver Sun, January 17, 2002)

10. They promised to run the most open and accountable government in Canada.

On Page 30 of the New Era, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals to create the
most open, democratic and accountable government in Canada.

Instead, they’ve made major changes without consulting British Columbians,
appointed unrepresentative boards, cut funding for independent offices, and
clamped down on the flow of information by centralizing ministry
communications under the control of the Premier’s Office.

“The B.C. Liberals, despite their promise of openness and transparency,
routinely swallow up requests for information.” (Vaughn Palmer, November 27,
2001)

11. They promised not to shift costs onto municipalities.

On Page 4 of the New Era, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals promised that
their Community Charter would “outlaw provincial government ‘offloading’ of
costs onto municipal governments.

Instead, they’ve stuck municipalities with great costs for policing and
access to justice, and when they doubled Medical Service Plan premiums,
municipal governments were left to pay for the increased cost of staff
benefits.

“While renewing their vow to ‘outlaw’ the offloading of provincial costs on
local taxpayers, the BC Liberals admit their service cuts could have
indirect cost impacts of municipalities. And George Abbott, minister
responsible for municipal affairs, delivered a blunt message to civic
leaders when asked to respond to concerns about possible offloading. ‘Well,
cry me a river, that’s the way it goes,’ Abbott said in an interview with
the Metro Valley News.” (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News, February 2, 2002)

12. They promised to put the needs of children first with proper funding.

On page 26 of the New Era, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals promised to
“devote the resources to the job needed to put the interests of kids first”.

Instead, they’ve cut $460 million from the budget for the Ministry of Child
and Family Development, and they eliminated the independent office of the
Child, Youth and Family Advocate.

the Liberals plan to chop $460 million from spending on children and
families over the next three years… It is a profound betrayal, of
children, of families and of voters who believed the Liberals’ promises.”
(Paul Willcocks, Vancouver Sun, December 12, 2001)

Upon learning that her office was to be eliminated, Child, Youth and Family
Advocate Laverne MacFadden told the Vancouver Sun she had “grave concerns
about how the service needs of vulnerable children are going to be met.”
(February 8, 2002)

13. The promised not to privatize health care services.

Gordon Campbell’s New Era document said there were too many private clinics
in BC, and before the election he told CKNW’s Bill Good, “I don’t think
there is any appetite in British Columbia to do any kind of privatizing of
health care. And, indeed I don’t believe we need to do that… We have a
long way to go in British Columbia before we maximize or optimize the
benefits to the public health care system and we are committed to helping
the public health care system work.” (March 3, 2000)

Then, last fall, the Vancouver Province obtained leaked documents showing
that the Liberals were already planning to break the promise. “The Province
received a copy of a memo from deputy ministers Penny Ballem of health
services and John Tegenfeldt of health planning showing the Liberals intend
to open the door to private medicine in B.C. This is despite repeated
promises during the election campaign they would not increase for-profit
medicine in the province.” (Vancouver Province, October 19, 2001)

Now, under the health care restructuring plan, we know that several hundred
million dollars worth of services will be privatized – documents leaked just
prior to the official announcement indicate the number could be as high as
$700 million.

“Services currently valued at $700 million will be privatized.” (Draft
briefing material for Minister of Health Services, obtained by Health
Employees’ Union, March 4, 2002)