It has been a very interesting and busy summer for people engaged in the political world. The continuing campaign over the HST referendum and election speculation kept many people on their toes.
The defeat of the tax was dramatic; in the North Island alone, 57 percent of people voted to get rid of it. The majority of people in the majority of BC’s constituencies said they wanted a return to fair taxation with BC control over tax policy and tax exemptions. So the Finance Minister has indicated that we will be returning to the situation as it was on 30th June 2010 - with the GST and the PST with the exemptions which helped so many people.
When the Legislature resumes sitting in October, we in the Opposition will be asking why, if it only took a year to introduce the HST, it will take 18 months to switch back. Many business people I have talked to say that once the details are clarified the change will be relatively easy as it will simply be a matter of updating their bookkeeping software. However, builders, painters and other trades people are very worried that the delay will severely impact their businesses as customers put off repairs or renovations for 18 months when they will not have to pay that extra 7 per cent through the HST. So a shorter timeline for the transition to GST and PST is essential.
The overwhelming victory in the referendum swiftly ended election speculation. While Premier Clark said it was because people did not want to go to the ballot box again, her decision not to try to win her own mandate - which she said she would do since becoming Liberal leader in the spring and when the BC Liberals were gearing up for an early election - was clearly driven by the polls. I completely understand people’s concern about being election weary - it was only two years since our last provincial election, we’ve recently had a federal election and we are due in the fall for municipal votes - but my concern is the impact another two years of Liberal government will have on BC.
My community office in Campbell River is constantly trying to assist people who have lost their WCB pensions; or people with disabilities who, already living well below the poverty level, find they are not able to get assistance for essential nutritional supplements that their doctors say they need; or families with special needs children who cannot get the help their children need. So often we look at the big picture; but it is real people - in Campbell River, Port Hardy, Tahsis, Quadra and in every other community in BC - who bear the brunt of Liberal policies.
There is also the undeniable damage that the government’s policies have on our environment. It’s not only that there’s logging at break neck speed for the foreign markets - but there is now no one providing public interest oversight in the forests. It’s not only that mining companies feel they have the right to explore in all corners of the North Island, it’s that there is now no one inspecting the impact they will have on watersheds. Of course we need the jobs that our resources can provide but we have to be aware of, and cautious of, the costs.
These are some of the concerns I will take up when we return to the Legislature in a few weeks time. And they will be busy weeks divided between my work as the critic for the Minister of Children and Family Development and with visits to a number of communities and organisations around the constituency. These include attending the Mount Waddington Health Network’s meeting on homelessness in Port McNeill as well as VIHA’s board meeting, where hopefully we will hear positive news about the continued operation of the emergency room at Port Hardy hospital.
Unfortunately, I will be at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in Vancouver when the ferry commissioner, Gord Macatee, holds his public meetings on Cortes (2pm) and Quadra (7pm) on 26th September. I met with him earlier in the summer and told him that people on the islands would accept no less than an immediate fare freeze and a rollback of ferry fares.
I do hope to see some of you at the Women 4 Women walk and run (I walk!) in Campbell River this Saturday (10th), raising money for bursaries to help women attend North Island College. The following Saturday I’ll be at BC Hydro’s 50th Anniversary celebrating public power at John Hart Dam and the weekend after at the Haig Brown Festival.
I must congratulate the Campbell River Creative Industries Council, which works hard to bring new businesses to the city, for the significant digital art exhibition it has brought to the Campbell River Museum. This is a coup for the city, the only place in Canada to host these works. The show is on until 22nd September.
And a final note: I will be opening a new office in Port Hardy shortly - at the former Robert Scott elementary school. Watch for announcements about an Open House. In the meantime you can contact me in Campbell River on 250 287 5100; toll free at 1 877 387 5100; by email at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca; via my website www.clairetrevena.ca;
friend me on Facebook ;or follow me on Twitter clairetrevena.