While shopping in Ladysmith a few weeks back the subject of politics came up while being served by the manager of a local store. During the conversation he said he would be voting for the Liberals because "they balanced the budget". As a political junkie who follows politics closely, I was appalled and asked him if he thought the cutbacks and, in particular the 23-page disability reassessment which affected under 40 people and cost $5 million, was worth the lives of the 30 people on disability who committed suicide in fear of having their income eliminated. His response was, "Someone always gets hurt."
Really? Why does anyone have to be "hurt" by his or her own government? What does this speak to about society's values? Are people disposable commodities?
Incidentally, the truth of the matter, confirmed by the BC Liberal Auditor General, is that the NDP balanced two budgets and left the Liberal government a $1.573 billion surplus.
In Will McMartin's chapter of the book Liberalized: The Tyee Report on British Columbia under Gordon Campbell's Liberals, he states there was no NDP "fudge-it-budgeting". "British Columbia's economy was firing on all cylinders. The public debt had been reduced, the budget was balanced and the treasury filled to overflowing."
He also writes: "...incoming premier Gordon Campbell misrepresented the province's finances by portraying the massive surplus he had inherited from the defeated NDP as an enormous deficit. He had every reason to know otherwise."
Mr. McMartin, under a Freedom to Access of Information request, discovered in the third transition binder of seven prepared by finance ministry bureaucrats, an up-to-date "accounting of provincial finances" which confirmed the strength of B.C.'s economy at that time and the astonishing transformation of the province's fiscal situation. It surpasses the scenario the NDP had based its budget upon earlier. A surplus topping $1.5 billion!
Two days after the transition ceremony (and after) those binders were handed over, Gordon Campbell announced, "Some of the problems that we face are as we thought and some are worse than we thought. The finances of the province are worse than we anticipated."
Five weeks later B.C.'s public accounts for fiscal 2001-02 were released by the comptroller general and auditor general. They confirmed record-shattering surpluses. Mr. McMartin writes: "So great was the fiscal windfall that British Columbia was able to make what was then the largest-ever reduction to the public debt."
We were led to think otherwise. We were lied to. Those 30 poor disabled people never had to die. Schools never had to close. Hospitals could have remained open. Jobs never had to be lost. The past four years of extremism never had to happen.
We've been duped! How does it feel?
This letter was published in the Ladysmith Chronicle and I received it as well
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