Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Road Ahead by Patrick Brown

The Road Ahead, as copied from Island Tides May 21st, 2009 edition.
----- Original Message -----
From: Rita Dawson
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:17 PM
Subject: The Road Ahead

Comment prior to article: Jessica McDonald, Deputy Minister to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary, should definitely be sent this one by everyone since she is the person who handles Campbell's correspondence. She seems a person of character after refusing the last Campbell proposed 43% pay increase. Source Reference at the following link:

Perhaps she would take the contents of this article to heart and give Campbell a nudge. One never knows. She receives all of his mail and can be reached at
Email Address


The road ahead—New Ideas For BC Government

Patrick Brown

Yes, the makeup of the legislature will look remarkably similar to what it was before the election. Yes, Gordon Campbell will once again be premier. Yes, you could call it a mandate, a signal ofpublic approval.

But voter participation was the lowest ever; and the BC Liberal share of the vote did not increase over the 2005 election. A lukewarm endorsement at best. And, on returning to Victoria, the government will find that none of the many problems and issues that it faced before the election have gone away. In fact, the election may have highlighted just how intractable they are.

Island Tides applaud the government’s affirmation of its openness to new ideas. We’re happy to take up the invitation; what follows is first a list of general principles that this mature third-term government should consider. The second is a list of key issues and how they might be addressed.

Governing Principles

1) The role of the government: A successful government process is characterized by thoroughness, responsibility, fairness, justice, transparency, and, above all, integrity. Its success is measured as much by its style as by its accomplishments.

2) The natural resources and environment of the province, and the corporate assets of the government, are not the property of the government to sell, rent, destroy or dispose of in any way that government pleases. They are, instead, to be held by the government in trust for the citizens of the province, of Canada, and of the world, and for generations to come.

3) The Premier is not the Chief Executive Officer of the Province, nor is he the decision maker. Rather, he carries the responsibility of managing the process of government. The process is one which having taken all factors and all interests into account, arrives at decisions by consensus and reconciliation.

4) The Ministers of the government, and the Cabinet, should prefer transparency to secrecy, and public information and debate to cabinet solidarity.

5) The separation of government and the private sector: government is not a business, and the business of business is not government. The objective of any business enterprise is to make as much profit as it can within its chosen lifecycle. The objectives of government are the health and happiness of its citizens and of humanity in general, now and in the future.

6) The government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities in the future (eg pensions) must not be endangered though involvement in private sector investments.

7) Private enterprise must not be allowed to profit from the use of the taxation or monopoly powers of the government.

8) The necessity of planning: It is not sufficient to govern on a case-by-case basis, or only in response to specific proposals. It is necessary to develop and follow specific plans for land use, energy, government finance, transportation, housing, and industries. Government policies should flow from these plans, which provide vision, predictability, and confirm government leadership.

9) Legislation and legislators: the legislature is the proper place for debate, and legislators are the proper conduits for their constituents’ information and opinions. It follows that government action that limits the function of the legislature invites disrespect for the government, its actions, its laws, and the legislators themselves.

10) Legislation by itself is not evidence of accomplishment. Enabling legislation must be accompanied by clear provisions for accountability. Proscriptive legislation must be accompanied by enforcement. Licensing involves a responsibility to supervise.

11) Legislators are accountable to and responsible for all their constituents, not just those with whom they agree. Legislators integrity must be unquestionable.

12) The needs of citizens: the needs of citizens vary throughout their lifetimes, and it is the responsibility of government to ensure that those needs are provided. Services such as health care, education, personal security, the care of children and the elderly, and the provision of physical infrastructure, must be planned, adequately provided, and guaranteed.

13) Local government: government must recognize and respect the regions, cities, towns and communities of the province, and must encourage a high degree of local autonomy and responsibility in all aspects of government. Few government functions are amenable to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

14) Local autonomy must be accompanied by local democracy, and encourage participation by all citizens in the government of their community. This extends particularly to land use, economic development and regulation, social justice, and support for the underprivileged and handicapped.

15) Non-government organizations: non-governmental and volunteer organizations must be recognized as an essential element of the fabric of society and the community, and their activities and sustainability encouraged.

16) The rights of citizens: The rights of citizens, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, are fundamental to the successful function of all levels of government. These rights are accompanied by citizens’ responsibilities to contribute to the government process, and to express their concerns when these principles appear to be neglected or ignored.

Issues That Must Be Addressed

The Carbon Tax – Project into the future, set a rate that will actually affect the consumption of fossil fuels, decide what to do with the proceeds, decide how to mitigate or compensate sensitive groups or sectors and include flaring and fugitive pipeline emissions.

Fish Farms – The government has licensed, but does not supervise, open water net pen fish farms. They should be phased out and only closed containment allowed.

Seniors’ Care Homes – A clear distinction should be made between ‘assisted living’ and ‘residential care facilities,’ communities should be involved in establishing sufficient of eachtype to meet local needs.

Run-of-river Hydro-electric Power – Environmental review should be broadened and include cumulative effects. The future effect on BC Hydro’s finances by contracts to purchase power must be studied.

Energy Planning – An overall energy plan must be developed for the province, and for exports and imports. BC Hydro’s role in that plan must be clarified.

Greenhouse Gases – Plans and targets for GHG limitation must be developed.

Carbon Offsets For Provincial And Local Governments– Abandon this idea and simply charge carbon tax.

Cap & Trade – Apply accordin to the Western Climate Initiative to non-fossil fuel GHG sources.

First Nations – A highly inclusive province-wide discussion of the ‘new relationship’ proposals must be planned and started immediately.

Local government – A revision of local government roles and policies is needed, in particular, Bill 30. The Significant Projects Streamlining Act and TILMA must be discussed.

‘Gateway’ Projects and Tanker Traffic – The Lower Mainland gateway needs more public debate. The Kitimat pipeline and coastal tanker traffic need reconsideration.

Vancouver Area Transportation – The role of a new Port Mann bridge needs to be compared with alternatives, such as rail transit up the Fraser Valley. Effect of such corridors on urban and suburban development must be planned. Translink must have effective local government representation.

BC Ferries – should once more become a Crown corporation, and financed as part of the highway system, resulting in reduced fares.

Industrial Development – The province should once more give preferential treatment to local industry.

Resource Development – Tax or royalty preferential treatment should be limited to early development phases. Include gas and oil exploitation.

Hospital Cleanliness – Cleaning staff should be identified as health care workers and cleanliness targets designed and enforced.

Private Forest Lands – should be regulated as forest lands under provincial regulations, like other forest lands.

Land Use Planning – Reinstate regional land use plans, process, and enforcement to provide control and predictability. Delay environmental review on new projects until this is done.

Executive Salaries – Establish salary levels for provincial government appointed officials and crown corporations, and have them debated and approved as part of the budget in the legislature.

Education Funding – Funding to school boards must be restored; post-secondary funding must be increased, fees should be frozen; student grants and loans improved.

Government Outsourcing – Provincial Auditor should review major contracts to Maximus and Accenture and consider returning the work to provincial civil service.

Public-Private Partnerships – Provincial Auditor should review all these and all proposed public private partnerships (P3s). Fold P3 office into Provincial Auditor office.

Freedom Of Information – Increase staff for FOI requests and set response targets, with penalties if not met.

Legislative Sessions – Schedule these for at least 125 days per year, with fixed dates.

Legislative Committees – Schedule and ensure complete hearings on all legislation.

Ministry of Environment – Re-staff enforcement and research staff, park wardens and reconstitute review process.

BC Rail – Halt transfer of railway lands to CN; reconstitute northern development fund.

Lobbying Legislation – Strengthen and make enforceable in court.

Ambulance Services – Settle contract; provide clear career path for new paramedics.

Provincial Budget – Needs immediate revision since assumptions on which it was based have not turned out to be accurate, or even close.

Child Care – Review number of cases and staffing, implement recommendations of various enquiries.

Homelessness – Plan and execute program and involve local governments throughout the province.

Provincial Pension Plan – Needs public discussion.

Minimum Wage - Raise to $10.

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