Recently the ultra right-wing “think tank,” the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, praised former premier Gordon Campbell as the most fiscally responsible premier in all of Canada. Most media outlets carried this news with headlines and straight faces. Those of us familiar with the imaginative studies of the institute virtually burst out laughing at the idea.
I would like to set the record straight as to just how fiscally responsible our former premier was.
In 1991 the Socred party was defeated and left the newly elected NDP with a debt of $20 billion. Ten years later, when the NDP was defeated, the province was in debt to the tune of $32.6 billion, of which $12.6 billion had been accumulated by the NDP. Supporters of the NDP always liked to suggest that in their last year in office they had a surplus of $1.2 billion. Technically correct, this did not wipe out their debt. (Finance ministers like to create confusion between the term “debt” and “deficit.”)
Fast forward to 2011. Liberal debt now stands at $53.4 billion, plus an intentionally unmentioned contractual (P3) debt of $46.4 billion, for a grand total of $99.8 billion. So, during the last 10 years our provincial debt has climbed $67.2 billion. This would compare very unfavourably with the accumulated debt of $12.6 billion by the NDP.
A lot of folk have also been questioning the appointment of Gordon Campbell to the prestigious position of High Commissioner to England. But to suggest that he was also the most fiscally responsible premier in Canada only adds insult to injury.