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(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of May 23, 2005)

Got Moxy?

  By John Martin

Yes, the Socialist hordes are once again at the gate.  Mercifully, Gordon Campbell’s Liberals managed to squeak out a comfortable enough majority to keep them there.  For a while.

The NDP always functions best in opposition – and this is the proper place for them.  They are much too inept, ideological and incompetent to govern.  But over the decades they have performed well in opposition and hopefully, once again, can be vigilant and hold the government to account.

But just as Campbell was wholly dishonest and cowardly in backing away from his pledge to get out of the liquor retail sales business, privatize the Coquihalla and not sell off BC Rail, we should all be concerned that he’ll once again back down on some significant election promises.

There are at least two areas where the Premier may soon try to wiggle out of his pledges.

First, is his promise to introduce systems to identify and publicize teacher misconduct.  Among the new rules proposed during the election, the government would establish a publicly accessible registry for teachers found to have been involved in inappropriate behaviour.  Public disclosure of such behaviour can only be a wise initiative.

Of course, this is not going over well.  The commissioner of the College of Teachers has already cited privacy issues and argued against publicly revealing the content and results of disciplinary proceedings.  Teachers, like other professional groups, are notorious for circling the wagons and protecting their own.  But their history of hushing up even serious instances of sexual abuse and simply relocating the offending teachers to other districts suggests they have forfeited the right to police themselves in anonymity.

Given Campbell’s track record of backing down, though, I doubt we’ll see such a registry anytime soon.

Another Campbell promise that’s going to be one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” types, is his pledge to hire another 215 RCMP officers.  Campbell did little during his first term to deal with the province’s declining ratio of police officers to residents.  I suspect any hiring that he initiates will be little more that replacing retiring members.

British Columbia is the worst place in the country for drug and property crimes.  We have the most dismal track record for actually charging and prosecuting offenders.  Another 215 RCMP members would be a nice start.   But it’s hardly a serious, concerted effort to deal with a situation out of control.  Even if, and that’s a big “if”, the extra officers are hired, BC will still be the best place in the country to do crime.

Crime prevention and safer communities, despite the slogans, were hardly fixtures of Campbell’s first term.  Probably, his only significant initiative in this area was to return the revenue generated from traffic fines to communities, so long as it’s invested in public safety.

With such a sizable number of socialists in opposition, Campbell will be under enormous pressure to forgo any initiatives in practical and effective crime prevention and instead, fund more “socially progressive” programs popular with the intelligentsia.

So unless Campbell develops a little bit of backbone, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about increasing the number of heroin injection sites rather than the need to hire more police officers over the next four years.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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