I was fortunate enough to participate at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities conference as an outgoing municipal councillor for the Town of Oliver. The key address is always on the last day, and always by the premier. It was the first time I have heard Christy Clark speak in person, and although she put a lot of effort into the delivery of her speech, once again her message fell flat. It was interesting to hear her talk about smiling, having optimism and hope — I’m sure that even Jack Layton himself would be mused to hear his philosophy coming from Christy Clark.
Unfortunately, Christy Clark does not have a track record of optimism or hope. During her tenure as minster of education and minister of children and families, she viciously cut services in these ministries, directly affecting the families and seniors that she now proudly says she is fighting for.
More recently, she unveiled her Job Action plan, which had no love, no optimism and no hope for the Boundary Similkameen. So yes, while I smile for the impoverished communities like Hazelton and Prince Rupert which are the poster communities for her plan, I shudder to think that those communities had to sink to such drastic levels before they received the attention they deserve. Is that what will happen to our rural communities? Will Jon Les tell us what he told the community of Nanaimo? That our children need to move to Kitimat or Prince George to get jobs? How does that build and foster sustainable communities across B.C.?
If optimism and hope are the Liberal words for the day then I respectfully suggest to the Liberal government to show us the love — show us through a decision on the correctional centre that was to bring hundreds of infrastructure and full-time jobs. Show us respect through creative transportation solutions such as additional Handi-dart services to assist our disabled and seniors to get to and from amenities and medical appointments. Show us hope by reinstituting integral agricultural programs such as Buy B.C. or the replant program. Show us optimism by giving rural communities the health care attention we need to address overcapacity hospitals and underfunded community care services. And show us responsibility by addressing our forestry challenges through resource planning and local processing commitments.
Don’t get me wrong. I do smile and am optimistic on a daily basis, but it is for a different reason — because of motivation to have rural communities not only heard, but given the respect and attention they deserve. I know it’s possible to make the necessary changes that our very communities need and can’t continue to wait for. I encourage you to join me and get empowered and motivated as well; our seniors, our families, our farmers and small businesses will need your action to bring about change for the Boundary Similkameen.
Marji Basso, NDP provincial candidate