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Monday, May 07, 2007

Commission on MLA compensation listens to yours truly

For any of you who may doubt my ability to affect the course of political events here in BC, take the time to compare the submission I made with the Full report by the Independent Commission to Review MLA Compensation (.pdf) regarding MLA pay and pensions. It is very gratifying indeed to know that they were listening so closely.

For those of you who listen to Capital Gang on CFAX 1070 on Thursday morning you would have heard me also correctly predict last week that Harry Lali would break ranks with NDP leader Carole James on this MLA pay raise issue.

Of course Harry was quickly bullied back into towing the party line, but it is refreshing to see a little bit of honesty surface admist all the hypocrisy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

BC Liberals Soar while NDP founders in Polls

Ah to be a BC Liberal now that full employment is here. These are heady days for the Campbell government. A poll last month showed that 58 per cent of British Columbians approve of the government’s performance, while NDP approval ratings have fallen to 32 per cent.

If an election were held today the BC Liberals would get 49 per cent of the vote, the BC NDP 32 per cent and the Green Party 15 per cent.

For the most part this support is well deserved. Unemployment in British Columbia is now less than four per cent. In communities like Victoria, where I live, the unemployment rate is the lowest in the country at 3.1 per cent.

Of course not everything is perfect. We have far too many skilled immigrants driving taxis instead of being allowed to work as engineers, doctors and scientists. There are also skilled tradespeople who are under or even unemployed back east who lack the funds to move out west to where the jobs are.

But these problems, and their solutions, are by and large federal rather than provincial. Regulatory agencies need to drop their protectionist mentality and make it much easier for foreign trained doctors, nurses, scientists and engineers to be eligible to work in their profession once they move to Canada.

A small fraction of the billions of dollars in surplus funds Employment Insurance is collecting each year should go to help relocate families with skilled trades from one part of Canada to the other. The federal government would actually make a profit from doing this as these people would go from collecting Employment Insurance to paying taxes.

But again when it comes to the Campbell government here in BC they are doing most things right. Yes the NDP are correct when they say that the minimum wage should be raised to ten dollars an hour. And if polls suggest the majority of British Columbians agree they almost certainly will be. Therein lies the secret of the Campbell government’s success.

During their first term the Campbell government was not so much right wing as reactionary. If the NDP had been for it they were against it. After coming shockingly close to being defeated in the last election, Campbell and his inner circle dropped much of their hubris and started listening to the multitude of political pundits (including myself) who had been telling Campbell both publicly and behind closed doors that the path to electoral lay with the centre of the political spectrum, not the left or the right fringes.

To be fair I had once given the same advice to then Premier Glen Clark. His response was to quote Dave Barrett’s line that he believed “an ounce of loyalty was worth a pound of brains.” That should give you some insight as to why Barrett and Clark ended up being one term wonders as Premiers of British Columbia and why I used to say that Bill Vander Zalm made me (along with most other British Columbians) a supporter of Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark made me a supporter of Gordon Campbell.

But perhaps nothing convinced Premier Campbell of the wisdom of marching towards the centre of the political spectrum than seeing his government go from the largest majority ion BC history to near defeat during the last provincial election. It was a wake up call delivered by the voters and to his credit Campbell listened.

The result has been a much more moderate and popular government that if current polling trends continue will cruise to an increased majority government in the next provincial election.

Mike Geoghegan is a consultant, entrepreneur and radio personality based in Victoria BC. You can contact Mike via his website at www.mgcltd.ca check out his columns at http://mgcltd.blogspot.com/ and listen to him debate BC politics Thursdays at 8:20 AM on www.cfax1070.com/