COLUMN: Some new year’s resolutions for B.C.

Dermod Travis of Integrity B.C. offers some suggestions for 2015

It’s that time of year when B.C. politicians should start thinking about some New Year’s resolutions for a bit of political self-improvement. So, in the spirit of giving, here are five ideas for politicians to consider as they set their resolutions for 2015.

1. Do the shuffle

In keeping with the season’s “out with the old, in with the new” theme, a cabinet shuffle is overdue. But a real one, trading deck chairs between Andrew Wilkinson and Amrik Virk a week before Christmas doesn’t count.

And what was Premier Christy Clark thinking when she put Virk in charge of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services as a political demotion, when technology clearly wasn’t his strong suit at Kwantlen University? Virk needs some shifts in the minors, not a far seat at the cabinet table.

Todd Stone would likely appreciate a new portfolio after the S.S. Minnow – err, MV Nimpkish – affair. Bet Mary Polak might prefer a change too. And talking about trading deck chairs, how about Andrew Wilkinson for Justice and Suzanne Anton for Advanced Education?

2. Remember: the secret to survivin’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep

Back in 2011, the B.C. government predicted that the first liquified natural gas plant would be operational by 2015. Doesn’t look promising.

Despite cutting its proposed income tax on the LNG industry in half and inking agreements with China to facilitate the use of foreign workers in B.C. to help build the facilities – that is if they’re built here at all and not just floated in – it’s doubtful anyone from government will be cutting the ribbon at an LNG plant any time soon.

However, there’s one take away lesson from this: if you’re going to play cards with the high rollers, it doesn’t hurt to know the rules.

So a little advice from Kenny Rogers: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

3. Stop counting your chickens before they’re hatched

A quick review of Petronas headlines sums this one up well: ‘Petronas LNG pullout threat just a negotiating tactic: Premier’ (Sept. 25), ‘Petronas warns of possible delay of $11-billion B.C. LNG project’ (Oct. 6), ‘B.C. in ‘good shape’ to close $10-billion LNG deal: Premier’ (Dec. 2), ‘Petronas defers decision on $36 billion BC LNG project’ (Dec. 3), and ‘Christy Clark says Petronas LNG project is a ‘done deal’ despite delay’ (Dec. 8).

Yes, folk do want to know what’s going on, but not if it makes them dizzy.

4. Stop stating the obvious

Back in August, Energy and Mines minister Bill Bennett had this to say about the tailings pond breach at Mt. Polley Mine: “This is a serious incident that should not have happened.” Very true that.

In November, Health minister Terry Lake called the decision of the B.C. Cancer Foundation (a registered charity) to top up the salary of the former head of the B.C. Cancer Agency (a government body): “questionable.” At the very least.

And here’s what B.C. Lottery Corporation chairman Bud Smith said reacting to a government audit of the BCLC that found a move to cut staffing costs ended up costing $25 million instead: “The execution wasn’t good.” You don’t say.

Stating the obvious can leave you open to ridicule, unless it’s accompanied with a sincere mea culpa and a genuine promise for improvement.

5. Cancel “That ’90s Show”

“I’ll meet your fast ferries and raise you one B.C. Place Stadium roof.”

In a few days, it’ll be 2015. Can anyone think of a better time for the B.C. Liberal party and the NDP to finally put the 1990s behind them?

A little something for supporters of the B.C. Liberal party to consider as well: lobbing those fast ferries at the NDP may be the equivalent of a political grenade backfiring.

It doesn’t speak well of the government’s acumen, if supporters have to call up the fast ferries’ debacle to counter criticism. Think of it as the theory of political equivalence.

And Happy New Year.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca

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