New Liberal leader faces tough questions

The BC Liberal Party’s resurrection is over, or has it just begun with the selection of Christy Clark as our next premier? Several questions come to the fore. Will there be party unity and internal support as stated by the unsuccessful candidates? How many will stay with the ship? What will their marching orders be? How much will things change, or will they remain the same? Questions, questions and more questions will be raised. The pot has not yet begun to boil and little stirring, if any, has taken place.

Ms. Clark has spoken out and stated her first priority is to improve the lives of B.C. families, echoing the theme upon which her campaign was based. She stated that: “My commitment to putting families first starts with job creation and fighting poverty. These issues are going to be the top priorities for our government.” In theory, it sounds good.

There are several issues that need to be addressed over and above these. Many of these are of equal importance. This is her opportunity to put her money where her mouth is. She stated that she wants to hear from “all British Columbians” and “institute real change.” Were I to talk with the new premier, some of my immediate questions would be as follows:

Would she entertain the idea of reconvening the Legislature and allow a free vote on the HST, as this would save about $30 million in the proposed useless June referendum?

Coastal oil tanker issues should be on her agenda. Will she let the feds run an Alberta oil pipeline across B.C. to Prince Rupert based on the proviso that the feds supply matching funding to build a refinery at the Port of Prince Rupert and that the only export shipped from this refinery will be gasoline?

BC Ferry fuel fiasco: Firstly, she would have to realize and admit that her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, messed up more on the BC Ferries development than the previous NDP debacle. Campbell built ships abroad that not only cost more, but are somewhat moth-balled at present as they consume 32 per cent more fuel than do the 40-plus-year-old ferries that are in service.

Health care: It’s time to follow other provinces and get rid of ever-increasing “regressive” MSP premiums. To this end, adopt a “progressive” fee for service model that is capped at one per cent of income, has exemptions for poor and low-income patients, and regulations ensuring all patients receive treatment regardless of ability to pay.

Education: (Remembering that as education minister, she saw about 100 schools close) introduce “per student” funding for primary and secondary education. It should be scaled to each region. This would give parents and students more educational choice, and allow communities to choose which schools to support when there are closures. Educational outcomes could be improved for rural and lower-income students. The bonus here is that students, parents and teachers would be brought together to co-operate in the educational process, which currently puts teachers in the front lines of having to defend a system that is unaccountable to anyone.

Whoa, wait a minute. Silly me, I shouldn’t even be thinking such thoughts. Our political system is somewhat unorthodox. Ms. Clark is leader in name only. She is not yet an MLA. Strange how someone can get behind the wheel of a bus without taking a test and getting a proper licence, isn’t it? Only in Canada and B.C. you say?

Ron Barillaro