BC’s Provincial Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced yesterday the provincial surplus has shrunk under the constraints of the global economic crisis, but he assured British Columbians he would not be running a deficit to jump start the floundering economy.

Hansen vowed to belt-tighten, examine expenses, reduce costs and mind the store, but offered absolutely no specifics when pressed to provide examples of areas where the government would cut spending in response to predicted shrinking revenues. The Liberals have spent a reported $30 million to tell BC residents we live in the best place on earth and Hansen gave no indication this type of highly discretionary spending would end immediately under his watchful recessionary eye.

What’s the plan, Colin? Sit tight? Stay the course? Hold the line? Focus on the prize? Sounds eerily reminiscent of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first lame responses to initial indication of a widening global economic crisis back in September and Harper’s government has yet to launch a real plan to stimulate the national economy other than to offer support to the major banks’ mortgage lending.

Premier Gordon Campbell has shown virtually no leadership on the issue of the economy, indeed, he seems to be sitting dumbstruck in his office and I can only imagine the kinds of conversations he and his aides are having.

Campbell, mumbling, eyes glazed over, stares out the window, his voice barely audible: “Where’d our surplus go? Kevin? Colin? Uh, uh, where are my glasses, someone get me my glasses!!”

Kevin Falcon: “You’re wearing your glasses, Gord, remember? The ones you got from my guy? So we could look smart and edgy and less geeky?”

Campbell: “I can’t feel them on my face, I can’t see, dammit, who keeps giving me these forecasts to read? I can’t read them, they make my eyes bleed! My eyes! My eyes! Where did the billion dollars go? Colin, what the fuck?”

Colin Hansen: “Uh, it was me, Gord, I, um, thought you’d want to know so we could – I dunno – make a plan, revise the budget, something like that. I wasn’t trying to upset you – what should I tell the people?”

Campbell stares silently out the window for several long beats. Suddenly, he rummages crazily through the drawers of his desk, before pulling out a glossy, full colour brochure promoting BC.

“Tell them they live in the best place on earth! Tell them – because it is, we have all these natural resources to exploit, we have water to sell to the US, we have bridges to build so we can put more cars and trucks on the roads, we have lumber to sell, we have the Olympics coming – my God, can’t they see how great this place is? Tell them that! Go! Go!”

And that must be how Hansen ended up giving his announcement yesterday. Campbell’s body double sits in the Leg for him, because the real Gordo is in his office, drooling and mumbling still.

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What beats in Kevin Falcon’s chest? Something undoubtedly small, hard and intent on mass destruction. The automaton often referred to as the Provincial Minister of Transportation is seemingly incapable of any empathy or human compassion as evidenced by his response to last week’s Porteau Cove rock slide. In an interview, he quickly expressed thanks for the lack of death or serious injury as a hurried aside, perhaps because a PR aide whispered in his ear that might be a good thing to mention, before launching into an obscure and confusing explanation of how an event like this would not impact the 2010 Olympic Games and how a plan for just such an eventuality was already being worked on by his people and VANOC. Pressed on just that the plan might look like, Falcon could not elaborate, citing not security or early days, but instead offering this reassurance: the athletes competing in the affected events would be living and training in the Whistler area – in the event of another Sea to Sky blockage, the games would go on without a hitch. Because somehow, he knows exactly how a crippling event during the Games would look.

What he failed to say was – assuming a similar slide occurred and not some other environmental event or act of terrorism – spectators wouldn’t make it, kids aspiring to future Olympic greatness would miss the chance to see their heroes win medals, parents who had dedicated years of time and money to finance athletes’ medal hopes might be caught in the jam and fail to witness their kids’ greatest moment – and, most notably, he failed to say that the truly important people would be there: the broadcasters. Their precious broadcast revenue would be intact, paid by advertisers because the show would go on, ensuring speedy transfer to VANOC and, ultimately, IOC coffers. Is this why you aren’t hearing more about 2010 security plans?

No doubt, Falcon has taken his cue from VANOC President John Furlong, who last October mentioned VANOC would consider asking the Metro Vancouver working public “to leave their cars at home, work different hours or consider staying with friends or family downtown during the 2010 Winter Olympics”. In concert with Falcon’s comments, it’s not difficult to understand whose Olympics these are, and they don’t belong to the athletes, the kids or the long-suffering parents, it’s the real estate developers, the IOC and the corporate sponsors who will scoop up all the events tickets to place in the swag bags of the rich and influential. Buy their Coke, eat at McDonald’s and all is right in their world.

Falcon’s rush to world-saving action on the rock slide could not contrast more heavily with his reaction to the Canada Day closure of the Ironworkers’s Memorial Bridge for a police incident involving a suicidal woman barely saved from a death plunge by quick-acting Vancouver Police negotiators. If he had any idea how close to fulfilling her wish she came, he might think again about complaining his potato salad went warm in the six hour wait – no, scratch that, of course he wouldn’t. The man has little compassion for anything but his own time and money and that of his associates. His childish, self-serving diatribes only further serve to show him as the petulant brat he is and one can only wonder what his Surrey-Cloverdale constituents think of him – surely they can’t imagine he would provide them any assistance if they walked into his office seeking help with a provincial disabilities claim or human rights complaint, he is clearly above that, serving the blue bloods, the movers and the shakers who form the BC that smugly calls itself The Best Place on Earth, not the BC of everyday men and women struggling to make a life for themselves and their families.