With the provincial election officially kicking off on Tuesday when the writs are issued, I’m guessing that Premier Christy Clark would like to forget the week that was.
The leader who has defined herself as a champion of average families, a creator of jobs, a capable steward of the B.C. economy, and a forward-thinking province-builder did nothing to diminish the NDP’s developing narrative that she is in fact aloof, elitist, unaccountable, out of touch and beholden to big money.
And her ministers certainly aren’t helping.
Take, for example, Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s disastrous attempt to pull off a simple symbolic ground-breaking to mark the preconstruction phase of the controversial 10-lane toll bridge that will replace the Massey Tunnel. Heavy equipment, buckets, shovels, hard hats – what could go wrong?
But Mr. Stone arrived late, which allowed the few dozen peaceful protesters to have their way with his podium. They held Todd Stone masks over their faces, brandished a giant novelty cheque (made out to the Port of Vancouver) and eventually forced his announcement to be made in the cramped quarters of a nearby fire hall. According to Richmond city councillor Carol Day, who helped organize the protest, Mr. Stone eventually ducked out – literally – through a partly closed garage door and escaped into a waiting pickup truck.
Members of the TransLink mayors’ council – with the exception of Delta Mayor Lois Jackson – are opposed to the bridge. It conflicts with their long-term regional transportation plan.
Mr. Stone’s reply before he T.J. Hookered under the door? “Look, I don’t report to the mayors of Metro Vancouver.”
Then, there was the much more serious issue of a mother’s direct plea to the Premier to improve daycare services in the province. The letter was written by Shelley Sheppard, whose 15-month-old son Mac died in an unlicensed home daycare in January.
Ms. Sheppard is Métis and has worked with aboriginal children and youth inside B.C.’s child-care system as a social worker. In the letter, she detailed her family’s desperation to find a safe space for her son.
“Mac should be safe and warm with his mommy and daddy right now,” she wrote. “Instead, he has been dead for 11 weeks. Instead, I sleep fitfully with his ashes and toys by my bed while I cuddle up to one of the last things he wore which was his red plaid jacket, hoping to catch even the faintest whiff of his sweet smell.”
The letter continued:
“As a mother, I know you wanted what was best for your son and as an MLA you converted a room in your office building into a nursery. Your son is the most important thing in your life and he always will be and being near you kept him safe and protected, as any mother would want. What about my son? What about other BC children? Don’t our children deserve the best too?”
There was no immediate public reply from the Premier. I turned on the radio to hear the Minister of Children and Family Development, Stephanie Cadieux. She began by offering her condolences, then turned to the well-worn, “We believe in a choice for parents.” She continued: “I think we have to recognize that there are lots of parents in this province who don’t want to put their children in childcare – who choose to stay home.”
As I said, Christy Clark’s ministers aren’t helping much.
The Premier finally responded on Friday, telling reporters that, as a mother, her heart goes out to Ms. Sheppard. She said the province is working to increase the number of licensed childcare spaces.
When B.C. ombudsman Jay Chalke released his report on Thursday investigating the firings of eight health researchers in 2012 (one of whom, Roderick MacIsaac, took his own life), there were no ministers or any elected Liberals to speak to the report.
Instead, there was a statement from Kim Henderson, the Premier’s deputy and head of the public service. She apologized on behalf of the public service but not the government.
According to the report, Roderick MacIsaac and his seven colleagues had done nothing wrong and did not deserve to be fired.
On Friday, Ms. Clark said the government had already apologized for the “tragedy” but added it was up to Ms. Henderson, and a former Supreme Court judge who was appointed to the file, to deal with the recommendations.
The news release issued by government that coincided with a hastily called news conference five years ago, when they were fired, stated that the RCMP were investigating the eight researchers. That, it turns out, was bogus. There was no such investigation. It was fake news before we had ever heard the stupid phrase.
Again, as serious as the subject is, it brings to mind the silliness of the unfounded allegation by the Premier that the NDP had somehow hacked the BC Liberals website. Also fake news. Or have we already forgotten about that one?
And that’s the thing. The strikes against the BC Liberals are many, incremental and complicated. Voters have to keep a tally over the long term – for months, even.
But if the party loses this election, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.Report Typo/Error
Follow us on Twitter: