“The (not so) slow de-industrialization of the province”

Feb 26, 2009
Yesterday, Catalyst Paper announced the closure of the Crofton kraft pulp mill, a week after shutting the doors at its 350-employee mill in Campbell River and “restructuring” (laying off 127 workers) at its Powell River facility. That’s 850 job losses in basically one shot. It is not the first shot, either, and it definitely won’t… View Article

Partisan claims and the BC economy

Feb 23, 2009
BC’s recession and election together mean things are going to get nasty in the political realm. Already we seeing plenty of sneering commentary from our esteemed cabinet ministers. Consider this jibe from Colin Hansen, the Minister of Finance, in his annual address to the brethren of Sigma Chi: “I want you to think about one… View Article

Where’s Our Danny Boy?

Feb 23, 2009
Give Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams credit for leading by example and doing what no BC politician in recent years had the guts to do: force the issue on what, exactly, the public deserves by way of public returns from publicly owned resources. Williams’ well publicized decision in December to yank back AbitibiBowater’s public timber and… View Article

Not the usual sceptics

Feb 22, 2009
Scepticism about the provincial budget last week is extending beyond the usual sceptics. BC’s Credit Union Central has published its take titled “The Bandage Budget” (read here) and it is raising some questions about assumptions being presented. On the size of the possible deficit: The projected deficit in 2009/10 is small in absolute ($495 million)… View Article

Electricity Policy in BC: “Buy High – Sell Low”

Feb 20, 2009
It was only a one-liner in the budget — the government plans to spend $10 million to advance the $400 million Northwest transmission line project along Highway 37, a project it says it will develop in partnership with the private sector. But this not-so-little initiative raises major questions about electricity policy (and sustainable economic development… View Article

Accounting games of Olympic proportion

Feb 20, 2009
The long awaited 2010 security budget was finally unveiled today. The latest estimate pegs the cost of securing the Olympics at $900 million or just over five times more than the original estimate of $175 million. BC’s portion of the total now sits at $252.5 million or roughly three times more than its original price… View Article

Numerically Challenged

Feb 20, 2009
The BC budget just doesn’t add up once you look at some of the details. Since the 2009 economy is shrinking, how can revenues from personal income tax be greater in 2009 than 2008, when the yearly economy was still growing? A more for less approach seems to be endemic with the premier. When commenting… View Article

Government wage freeze damages economy

Feb 20, 2009
One more sign as to how out of touch the February 17 BC Budget is with the rest of the world. The BC Budget includes a two year wage freeze for people who get their pay from the provincial government. The Budget documents say: No funding is included in the fiscal plan for the next… View Article

The Budget: A Determinant of Health

Feb 19, 2009
I know this budget is supposed to be good news for health, but I want to argue here that the exact opposite is true. We’ve had a lot of budgets like this in B.C., so this one is in keeping with its right wing predecessors. During the 1980s, for example, the never-ending Social Credit government… View Article

Time to take the axe to province’s dubious forest-related budget projections

Feb 19, 2009
Two words sprang to mind this week when perusing the provincial government’s latest revenue projections from BC’s once healthy, wealth-producing forests – confusing and misleading. Confusing because Finance Minister Colin Hansen projected that forest revenues will go up next year when all signs point the other way. And misleading because even a cursory review of… View Article

Happy Birthday, Carbon Tax!

Feb 18, 2009
A year ago, in the 2008 BC Budget, a new tax was born. There was a hush over the House as its mother, the Finance Minister, prepared for delivery. The proud papa, the Premier, stood glowingly beside the new mom Carole and her baby tax, and basked in the glow of praise from climate scientists,… View Article

Why do BC kids need Finance Minister’s charitable donation to buy them shoes?

Feb 17, 2009
Minister Hansen donated money for shoes for poor children. Then he delivered a budget that doesn’t help parents who receive income assistance or who are working for the $8.00 per hour minimum wage to buy shoes for their own children. An act of charity that will help several children today compared to a missed opportunity… View Article

Talk of addressing homelessness in Throne Speech remains just that

Feb 17, 2009
Yesterday’s Throne Speech got me excited with its promise of finally addressing homelessness in BC. Like everyone else, I expected the economy to be the main focus of the document and was not surprised to hear that the government is planning to create jobs through ramping up infrastructure spending. But then I got to page… View Article

BC Budget 2009: Vanilla, No Sprinkles (revised)

Feb 17, 2009
Faced with a nasty recession at its doorstep, the BC budget is uninspiring and underwhelming in its ambition. Overall there is little that actively plans for a recession, preferring instead a steady-as-she-goes budget, perhaps aimed at cultivating the image of responsible economic managers in a time of crisis. There are no tax cuts or drastic… View Article

Charity doesn’t buy a lot of shoes

Feb 17, 2009
OK, this is just a little crass, but the calculation begs to be done. It apppears rather than buying himself a new pair of shoes for the Budget Speech, the Finance Minister has donated $4,000 to the Salvation Army to buy 100 pairs of running shoes for poor children. A generous gesture. But if he… View Article

Tales from the Mouth of the Fraser

Feb 16, 2009
With the BC budget just 27 hours away, in today’s Vancouver Sun, you can find my pre-budget oped. Alas, as often happens, I am paired with the Fraser Institute for the Economically Insane. In today’s edition, Neils Veldhuis and Milagros Palacios act as yang to my yin. Their pre-budget oped seems strangely distant from the… View Article

Government compliance with legal obligations far from good

Feb 15, 2009
BC’s Freedom of Information Commissioner released his annual report last Friday. These reports are a pretty good indication of how open and transparent our government is. The Commissioner is unhappy and he says so in tough language: The stark fact is that the government’s overall record of compliance with its legal obligations under FIPPA is… View Article

Olympic Gold for the Vancouver Sun

Feb 14, 2009
Just when I thought I had read the worst the Vancouver Sun can provide, I caught another Olympics article that sets a new standard. I suppose you could admire their extra effort — going for the Gold. But even here in my very relaxing Baja casa, I find it just plain annoying. The gist of today’s article is… View Article

It’s about jobs

Feb 13, 2009
Next week the provincial government releases their budget and I am looking for something, anything at all, for forest workers.Now I hate to be a total whiner, but since 2001, BC has lost 65 sawmills, four pulp mills and about 20,000 jobs in the forest industry. With the spin-off effect of about 1 to 3,… View Article

But what about 2011?

Feb 12, 2009
Okay, I can understand why the Premier thinks the Olympics will be fun — even inspiring.  And I accept the pitch from his boosters at the Vancouver Sun that we should make the Games the best they can be. But the public policy issue isn’t whether the Games will be fun or inspiring. The issue… View Article