(This column was published in the North Shore News on Jan. 23, 2002)

 

Liberals intent on remaking idea of gov't

By Leo Knight

FAMINE! Flood! Pestilence! Plague! Run for cover, the sky is falling!

 

Listening to the leaders of Big Labour in B.C. this past week, you'd think the government of Gordon Campbell has somehow contrived to visit no end of disasters upon the vulnerable citizenry. Please spare us the nonsense.

 

There was Jim Sinclair, the head of the B.C. Federation of Labour, Ken Georgetti's understudy, bawling, "It's government workers who keep us safe and protect us."

 

True, Mr. Sinclair. But that would be the police, fire fighters, corrections officers, sheriffs and such. And, unless I'm mistaken, there weren't any cuts in those areas. In fact, most of those are federal or municipal employees. To my knowledge the environmental youth corps or the equal opportunity secretariat had little to do with keeping the population safe. Both were among the cuts made on Thursday.

 

Then there was George Hayman who, as the head of the B.C. Government Employees Union, undoubtedly has your interests at heart instead of the 30 per cent loss of dues brought about by the government cuts, and bleated, "Along with the 32,000 men and women who provided vital services in every community and the thousands of British Columbians who rely on them, I am both shocked and angry at this betrayal of the public trust."

 

Right. That would be those "vital" services provided by the now defunct shellfish aquaculture working capital fund, or the music industry travel assistance program, or perhaps the labour market applied policy and program branch. Or maybe he was referring to the grazing enhancement fund or the debtor assistance program? All since made redundant by the government redesign announced on so-called "Black Thursday."

 

He then said, "Premier Campbell clearly has not learned a thing from the Walkerton water tragedy in Ontario." Did I miss the press release where Campbell announced the hiring of the "Tweedle-dee" and "Tweedle-dum" Koebel brothers?

 

But perhaps the most hypocritical and typically empty rhetoric had to come from disgraced former premier Glen Clark. When stopped by the media on his way into his criminal trial on corruption charges, Clark had the temerity to say, "What Campbell is doing is so contrary to the values of British Columbians."

 

He said it as though he had a clue what the values of British Columbians are. After resigning his office because he was the central figure in a criminal investigation and now on trial for allegedly selling the favours of the office he held, he is somehow in a position to measure the values of hard-working and honest British Columbians?

 

The B.C. Liberals are intent on remaking the idea of government. The events of the union-dubbed "Black Thursday" are merely a ramification of the new ideology in Victoria. The problem is that the unions, who just can't come to grips with the concept that the inmates don't run the asylum, simply can't get their head around the idea that the private sector is capable of doing most things done by government more efficiently and, in most cases, cheaper.

 

I'll give you an example. The humor-challenged individual who sits on their duff at the end of the cafeteria line manning the cash register can earn over $20 per hour depending on seniority.

 

No kidding. With no more acumen, training or marketable skill other than, "That will be $1.38," after punching a couple of buttons in a till, the individual will get paid as much as $50,000 a year. That is not including benefits, of course. (Do you want fries with that?)

 

Is there any wonder why wards are being closed because the piggybank is dry? Trained, experienced RNs don't get that much money until they've been at it for 10 years.

 

Gordon Campbell is trying to reinvent government in this province. The jury is still out on all the decisions made in the sweeping redesign announced Thursday. But I, for one, am prepared to give them the chance to undo much of the damage Big Labour and the NDP have done to B.C. over the past decade.  

 

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