Happy anniversary Christy. It has been one year since you assumed the Liberal leadership and dedicated yourself to the betterment of working families.
You pledged that families would be treated with new found respect and that addressing onerous tax burdens on working families would be at the core of your caring approach.
You promised: “When a decision comes before cabinet, we will ask: How does this affect B.C. families?”
You promised to implement a working income tax benefit as part of your poverty reduction plan because “there are families in every part of the province who cannot afford three meals a day and who send their children to school hungry.”
Well, a year later the New Christy Minstrels have fallen under the spell of Finance Grinch Kevin Falcon who is digging for chump change in the pockets of those very families. In Falcon’s just-released 2012 budget both middle class and low income families will pay more, not less, in a variety of fee increases (read: taxes).
Technically, the premier is accurate when she claims the budget does not raise income taxes on families. But that is small comfort when medical service premiums are set to rise another four per cent, when carbon and tobacco taxes continue to climb, when BC Hydro and BC Ferries rates are about to take off and when ICBC premiums are on the rise.
The premier said a year ago that government needed to examine the accumulated tax burdens on families. If she really believed that, if it was not just poli-babble, then Clark has lost a major battle around her cabinet table.
Falcon basically said his budget is no family picnic. “This budget is about fiscal discipline,” he said. Apparently, the kind of fiscal discipline that working families are already forced to embrace in their daily lives is not enough to satisfy the miserly finance minister.
Falling in line with Falcon, the premier now maintains that her focus is “to try to protect the interests of families in the long term by doing everything I can to enable the creation of jobs.” Now she admits she has no power to implement tax relief for hard-pressed families. “We are looking at the total burden on families, but the thing is … I don’t get to control that entirely.”
So, who’s running this dog and pony show? Clark or Falcon? I think we know the answer.
Besides turning his back of Clark’s “families first” agenda, Falcon also delivered a fiscal assault on small business, the sector that accounts for the vast majority of B.C.’s job creation. While the premier was grasping at straws, her finance minister was erasing a planned tax cut for small business and forecasting a corporate tax hike in 2014.
One has to wonder if Clark was even permitted to participate in pre-budget deliberations. Just ahead of the release of the budget Clark maintained that tax hikes had been ruled out. And, mere moments before Falcon tabled his document Clark was scolding the tax-happy NDP. “Rather than thinking we can grow the economy by raising and spending taxes, we believe the way you grow the economy is by lowering taxes,” she told the Legislature.
NDP leader Adrian Dix said it all in 10 words: “Christy Clark is sounding more like Gordon Campbell every day.” M