Once a month, North Okanagan Labour Council President David Doran is given the opportunity to set the business community straight with a column in Kelowna's Capital News newspaper. Here's his column for Jan. 16, 2002:
Tax cuts to the lower two tax brackets, higher paychecks and a booming economy. Tax cuts will stimulate the economy. Government revenues will rise. A promise of better education and comprehensive Medicare services whenever we need them, wherever we need them. There was more - lower insurance costs, better housing, lower energy costs an $8 minimum wage....yes, Gordon Campbell's Liberals promised it all before last spring's election.
In Campbell's words, "What really matters is that you elect a government that is caring, competent and true to its word."
Many British Columbians embraced this Liberal platform and elected an overwhelming majority of Liberals to Victoria.
Who could blame them? The New Year and new era were full of hope and promise.
Six months later after core reviews, we have massive cuts to ministry spending, a freeze to both education and Medicare budgets, high unemployment, 52,000 jobs lost between June and September, and a further 11,500 jobs being cut from the public sector. The new training wage was a backhanded way to cut the minimum wage by 25 per cent and 50 per cent of our West Coast sawmills are in danger of shutting down.
The loss of Western Star Trucks has been greeted with indifference by this government. Enterprise minister Rick Thorpe fails to see the value in saving jobs.
Cuts to Pharmacare, cuts to youth employment programs, cuts to the environment ministry, cuts to welfare - every program supporting economic growth and quality of life in this province is at risk.
We were promised world-class education and the best possible health care. Now we're told we can't afford it. Collective agreements, bargained in good faith, may be opened and rolled back or eliminated. We face user fees. We face private hospitals. We face bed closures.
That's not what British Columbians voted for.
It is interesting that the mainstream media has been quiet about the doings of the Liberals. Had the last government incurred a debt of $2.5 billion in six months, the press gallery would have been incredulous.
What will the future bring for this province?
Let's agree that the economy is in trouble and that we have a responsibility to the people of this province to work together to make it successful.
The sharp drop experienced by the Liberals in popularity will worsen as the changes and cuts are felt by British Columbians.
This government is setting itself up for confrontation on a large scale.