A triumph of myopic delusion

For every Liberal zealot I encounter who is living in denial, I meet another half-dozen free enterprisers who seem to appreciate...

For every Liberal zealot I encounter who is living in denial, I meet another half-dozen free enterprisers who seem to appreciate that there are times for political renewal and 2013 is probably one of those times.

Unfortunately, in B.C. we don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to political change, but that does not stop change from happening.

In this vein, it was sadly disappointing this week to bear witness to a triumph of myopic delusion over political science. In my inbox was the latest volley from Concerned Citizens for B.C. “CC4BC” has little to do with the concern of citizens. It is a Star Chamber of Howe Street influencers who want to do the Liberals’ wet work with some degree of separation from the BC Business Council. Its pitchman is former forestry CEO Jim Shepherd, a prominent resource sector executive who once made his mark in the boardrooms based on strategic thinking and consensus building.

Shepard’s e-blast to the politically disaffected — titled “You Decide” — digs deep into the 1990s for the standard, oft-repeated litany of NDP screw-ups. It starts with the 1994 decision to build the fast ferries, moving on to the 1995 forensic audit that revealed that the Nanaimo NDP had been diverting charity bingo funds, the 1996 falsely “balanced” budget and the 1997 Jobs and Timber Accord that failed to deliver.

Shepard states: “Dix and his colleagues’ idea of governance is to raise taxes, increase union power and waive their economic responsibilities.” Think “Greece,” he says.

In a laughable attempt to appear balanced, Shepard says: “Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are hardly without fault. No party is.” But he chokes when it comes to examples. “As unpopular as the media make them out to be, the Christy Clark Liberals can take credit for being involved in several noteworthy achievements. An Ipsos Reid poll shows a majority of people who think the province and the economy are headed in the right direction.”

That’s it? The pollsters that Premier Clark has repeatedly maligned say we’re headed in the right direction? Small comfort.

Shepard insists that “this is not about Christy Clark or Adrian Dix as people. I respect both of their commitments to public service.”

Sorry Jim, that just doesn’t wash. This CC4BC campaign is all about the politics of personality. All the Liberals have left in their arsenal as the election approaches is a divisive assault on character designed to scare the bejesus out of the thousands of Liberals who have abandoned Clark to join the Dix camp.

Here’s where Shepard is coming from. Back in the 1990s he was a member of the board of directors of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI). In the dying days of the NDP administration, the association was locked in hand-to-hand combat with the forests ministry over revenue-killing Forests Practices Code red tape. I was there as a communications consultant in those days, working in the COFI war room. The battle to liberate the forest sector from the tyranny of the bureaucrats was intense.

What Shepard forgets is that when the government changed in 2001, the bureaucrats prevailed and persisted in their mission to keep a regulatory strangle hold on the forest barons.

When Shepard, the prophet of unfettered enterprise, tells you the enemy is the NDP, he’s kidding himself. His enemy is government per se, always has been, always will be. M

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