Clark knows for whom the bell tolls

Only a true April fool can look back on this week and still believe Premier Christy Clark’s promise

Only a true April fool can look back on this week and still believe Premier Christy Clark’s promise that her renewal of the Liberal government would focus, first and foremost, on the welfare of families.

More than a year ago, the starry-eyed premier-in-waiting assured us that a government of her making would be subject to a “families first” litmus test when it came to policy initiatives.

A year later, the province’s 2012/13 fiscal year has arrived with a tsunami of tax increases that do nothing but dip into the pockets of the already hard-pressed working families, particularly those who make the Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria regions home.

BC Hydro customers suffered the highest rate hikes, seven per cent on the average annual bill, which translates to about $5 more a month. This comes as waves of new smart meter customers are reeling from inordinate and unexplainable billing increases that the Crown corporation is largely dismissing as the customers’ fault.

Then there’s BC Ferry fare hikes of more than four per cent across the board; monthly Victoria bus pass increases of $2 to $3; and another two cents a litre gas tax hike in Metro Vancouver to help fill the Evergreen Line rapid transit money pit.

This week, rather than figuring out how she can help working families by holding the line on these cascading tax increases, a haggard-looking, puffy-eyed Clark was spending money we don’t have. In an effort to shore up her big business base and put her stamp on former premier Gordon Campbell’s Gateway legacy, she committed $700 million for unspecified transportation projects to help increase Asian trade.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with increasing Asian trade, but any idiot can raid the treasury and throw dollars at unidentified projects. That’s not leadership, that’s old-fashioned chequebook politics. Leadership is doing what you promised in the first place — putting families first.

I find it most telling that reporters who are following the premier around to these dog and pony shows seem more interested in quizzing her on her government’s descent into chaos than on the details of her latest photo-op.

Don’t blame the media. The signs are too obvious to ignore.

Moments after the premier’s “Gateway 2012” announcement at Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver, CTV’s legislature reporter Ed Watson shared details of a brand new Angus Reid poll that shows the NDP with 43 per cent support and the Liberals and Conservatives tied at 23 per cent.

The poll also gives NDP leader Adrian Dix a 45 per cent approval rating compared to 32 for Clark. Normally circumspect, Angus Reid vice-president Mario Canseco said the findings point to a “leadership crisis.”

Another Angus Reid poll reveals that Clark has the second lowest approval rating in the country, right down there with perennial cellar dweller Jean Charest of Quebec.

The bottom line is undeniable. If things remain unchanged, the NDP will easily form government after the May 2013 vote. The Mustel Group currently projects 49 NDP seats to 32 Liberal. Forum Research predicts 76 seats for the NDP with the Liberals all but wiped out. Both pollsters show the Conservatives polling ahead of the Liberals in the Interior and the North and poised to win four seats or more.

No, the media cannot be blamed if it has begun the death watch. M

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