Blacktop Politics

I was a child, but this is the story of the moment I became aware of politics in BC. My family was driving to a remote resort on the Northern Gulf Islands..We hopped one ferry to another..We landed on the island but had to drive across it to our destination. From the ferry, for about a mile the road was blacktop, which ended at a paved driveway into a gated estate….The summer property (I recall being told) belonged to a Socred highways minister.   The rest of the island was rough gravel.

At the height of the triple-delete scandal, I made the following observation:  “Corruption is not a necessary consequence of secrecy, but secrecy is a necessary condition for corruption”. However that blacktop road got built, I saw it as evidence of “corruption”, in the sense of an unjustifiable distortion of power, money and influence.

About that time, (it may have been the same summer) , with stories like the one above bursting through the news cycle about a tired and cynical Socred government, we threw the bums out and gave Dave Barrett and the NDP a chance. It’s high time we do the same on May 9th , and I believe John Horgan is the man to give us all a rest from the distortions of power foisted on us by the Clark Liberals. Horgan can’t be all things to everyone, but from what I know of him, he’s a normal, honest man with a vision of helping ordinary people in a way that’s only ever a matter of political convenience to the Clark crew.

To make that happen though, we have to have a memory. We have to share memories. Blacktop politics has been a force in BC for a very long time. Money flows to friendly ridings.  As an example, Dermod Travis of Integrity BC has been noting how “affordable housing” announcements since the end of September have focused nearly exclusively on BCLiberal held ridings. Blacktop politics has been proven effective in BC over and over. People are people. They often vote based on narrow short term  interests and the very latest news from an often lazy television media.

The latest from the weekend, via Kathy Tomlinson of the Globe and Mail, is a dramatic confirmation of the “pay to play” culture of the current government. Read this : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/wild-west-bc-lobbyists-breaking-one-of-provinces-few-political-donationrules/article34207677/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links The money quote for me is here: ““At that point I realized – I have been totally corrupted.” .

It’s about a system of government in which if you don’t pay, you don’t play. Lobbyists break rules, falsify proper disclosure of the sources of funds to the ruling party and probably break tax law in the name of career survival. Companies understand that donations to the BCLiberals are a necessity of getting on with business, but don’t necessarily want the scale or frequency of contributions known.

Rich Coleman shrugs it off, saying if rules have been broken it’s not the party’s fault……. But this has apparently been going for years, common knowledge to insiders and a complete surprise to the Press Gallery. And to be fair, Horgan’s NDP is now reviewing its own records of donations to find out if the same thing has gone on in their own camp.  Although less likely, Mr. Weaver and the Greens should do the same.

Ah well.. It’s today’s news and history shows May 9th is a long way off. I honestly don’t think Rich Coleman or Christy Clark care very much.

Back to secrecy:  When the triple delete scandal broke, the BCLiberals promised not to do it again and an order went out to keep emails and so on in the civil service…. At the same time, they eliminated the application of the Offenses Act to the improper destruction of government records. They weakened the rules. And anyone who follows Bob Mackin knows that FOI requests are coming back “No Records” as much as they ever were.

Once again, it’s not necessary to prove corruption to note that the conditions for it have been created. And then we must wonder why…. And then we must vote.

I won’t tell you who to vote for. I’ve only said who I will vote for.  But like the dying days of the WAC Bennett Socred regime, the stories are legion, and between now and May 9th we have to share them widely. Get active. Get involved.