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British Columbia Premier Christy Clark answers questions about the HST referendum results. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark answers questions about the HST referendum results. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Robert Matas

B.C. struggles to find Christy Clark credible Add to ...

It’s called the credibility gap.

Premier Christy Clark says she abandoned her plan to seek a mandate from the voters this year after hearing from British Columbians who did not want an election. Newspapers across the province did not find her explanation credible.

“It’s not like she had a choice,” says an opinion piece in the Kelowna Capital News. "Gee, the electorate, although not a huge majority, but still a majority nevertheless, had just told the Liberals that the HST fiasco had been a mess from beginning to its painful end. And maybe Gordon Campbell was gone too but the legacy of the introduction of the hugely unpopular tax was still hanging around the neck of the Liberals to the point that rushing into an election now would be foolhardy,” the newspaper says.

“They [the Liberals]already threw the dice on the HST in a referendum and lost. The odds of the same happening in a provincial election were too much to risk, no matter what Clark and the Liberals are saying this week.”



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“The honeymoon is over,” The Maple Ridge News bluntly says. “We doubt that voters aren’t hungry to go to the polls again sooner rather than later. The referendum result had as much to do with their unhappiness about how the HST was introduced as it did about understanding how the tax worked. Some people don’t like to be lied to, especially about a new tax,” says an editorial.



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A Prince George Free Press editorial says the Liberals failed to realize the referendum was an indictment of how they treated British Columbians.

“The merits, or demerits, of the tax itself, became secondary. If the Liberals had focused on fixing the broken trust with the electorate, rather than trotting out demeaning stickmen ads telling us that paying more taxes was good for us (aren’t they the anti-tax party?), the result might have been different,” the newspaper says. “The message was the British Columbians want their government to be honest, accountable, and, most of all, up front with the electorate.”



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The Nelson Star was critical of New Democrats who campaigned against the HST as well as Liberals. No one can claim to be a winner in the HST referendum, a Nelson Star editorial says. However the Liberals deserve the lion’s share of the blame, the paper says. “They were the ones who unleashed the HST without any regard for optics. This arrogance has cost the province time and money that will never be recovered,” the newspaper says. A return to the PST may hurt this province’s ability to stay competitive, the editorial writer says. “If this is indeed the case, politicians on all sides need to take a hard look in the mirror. When they do, the source of any future economic misery will be sitting right in front of them.”



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With contract talks between teachers and the provincial government floundering, Gibsons' Coast Reporter appeals to both sides to be open to compromise on their positions for the sake of the school children. “The start of a school year should be filled with excited anticipation and the prospects of a fresh start. But that excitement is certainly tempered this year as students return to their classrooms amid clouds of uncertainty — dark clouds they have no control over and did not cause,” the newspaper says. “While we recognize that teachers, like any employees, are entitled to a fair benefit and compensation package, some common ground must be achieved. Both sides have to give a little . . . In the end, no one wins from a full-blown strike. The biggest losers in this are the students and the quality education they will be missing out on.”

The Williams Lake Tribune called on teachers to abandon their proposals for improved benefits and salary increases. The province cannot afford to pay the costs, the newspaper says. “That’s the real world, and it’s time the BCTF lived in it. Address the issue that impacts students the most – classroom size and composition. That might even garner public support,” the paper says.



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Meanwhile, in federal politics:



The federal government has been urged to spend money on the needs of veterans before they commit funds to bringing back “Royal” as part of the official name of the Canadian Air Force and Canadian Navy. Renaming the Canadian Forces would be an expensive exercise, involving changes to all vehicles, ships, aircraft, signage at bases, recruitment posters and so, says Kamloops’ The Daily News.

“Even the Royal Canadian Legion considers it a waste of money. They say the cash would be better spent looking after the needs of veterans. We have to agree on that point,” the paper says.

The Daily News also notes that the Conservative government recently told South Korea that Canada could not afford to take part in Expo 2012. Willingness to spend money on the re-introduction “royal” may be linked to efforts of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party to revive historic ties with the British royal family and take over the mantle of natural ruling party, the paper says. “In the end, it seems some decisions are easier than others when they are based primarily on the interests of the party in power,” the paper says.



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