School ranking: public shaming with a statistical veneer

Feb 9, 2009
By printing the Fraser Institute rankings of elementary schools the Vancouver Sun gives unwarranted attention and a gloss of respectability to a cynical attempt to create anxiety among parents and educators through public shaming of students, families, educators and to place public schools in a negative light. The FI’s ranking calculation is not a legitimate… View Article

Getting in Hot Water: A Lesson in Climate Subsidies

Feb 9, 2009
My hot water tank blew out just before Christmas. I had no idea, just went down to the crawlspace to get some wrapping paper and found the floor flooded around the old tank. We’d been expecting this for a while, having never had to change the tank since we moved in seven years earlier. Contemplating… View Article

The culture of entitlement

Feb 7, 2009
Don Copeman, of the infamous Vancouver clinic that bears his name, was plugging his business in Parksville’s local paper, the Oceanside Star. While doing so he managed to slag Canadians whose “culture of entitlement”, he charges, is the biggest obstacle to private clinics. “Trying to change the Canadian culture away from this culture of entitlement… View Article

The biggest forest crisis? A lack of imagination.

Feb 6, 2009
Everywhere you turn it’s bleak news for BC’s forest economy. Sawmills and pulp mills shuttered left and right, and a provincial government whose lame response is simply to say we’ve got to tough it out until markets improve and some of those mothballed mills possibly re-open. Not exactly encouraging words if you happen to live… View Article

About that unemployment rate

Feb 6, 2009
A couple days ago I was musing about big job losses on the horizon. Today, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that total employment has only dropped by 1.7% between Jan 2008 and Jan 2009. The bad news is that total unemployment surged by 50% over the same period. OK,… View Article

Love Those Deficits

Feb 6, 2009
As noted by Vaughn Palmer in the Vancouver Sun, it seems that all the political parties will benefit from Premier Campbell’s recent conversion to deficit budgets. While deficits are the obvious outcome of a rapidly decreasing economy, little is mentioned about the long-term effects that successive waves of tax reductions will have on building BC’s… View Article

No full-time kindergarten this year

Feb 4, 2009
Kindergarten expansion in BC has officially been postponed to the indefinite future, reports Janet Steffenhagen on the Vancouver Sun’s education blog Report Card today, referring to an article in the Nanaimo Daily News as her source. The announcement itself is hardly surprising in light of the gloomy fiscal update delivered by the Premier earlier this… View Article

Climate policy: contradiction #2

Feb 4, 2009
Speaking of BC climate policy contradictions that desperately need to be addressed (like I was doing here), wrap your head around this: our current policy framework is supposed to simultaneously reduce consumers’ dependence on fossil fuels and increase our dependence on fossil fuel production in the province. What? It’s true. It works like this. If… View Article

This is gonna hurt

Feb 4, 2009
Housing has been one of the major drivers of the BC economy in recent years. Low interest rates led to rising home prices and a psychology of “must get in before being locked out forever”; leading a housing bubble that had everyone in town swapping jaw dropping stories of bidding wars and outrageous prices paid…. View Article

Climate policy: contradiction #1

Feb 4, 2009
I don’t know if BC’s current approach to climate change is ironic, paradoxical, or just plain crazy, but whatever it is, it is desperately in need of revision. As it stands, existing policies virtually negate each other. It is even possible that overall, they make the problem worse. Consider BC’s contentious “carbon tax”. However meager… View Article

BC blinks on running a deficit

Feb 2, 2009
Now that the federal budget is over, I’ve been girding myself for the Feb 17 BC budget. My concern to date has been bold statements from both parties that they would never run a deficit, and that therefore we were in for a rerun of last Fall’s federal election where all parties kowtowed to the… View Article

Low income leads to poorer mental health

Feb 2, 2009
Statistics Canada recently published an interesting study on the relationship between low income and poor mental health. The paper, titled “Income and Psychological Distress: the Role of the Social Environment,” provides yet another reason for us to invest in a bold poverty-reduction plan. A large body of research has focused on the poorer physical health… View Article

Time to Pee on P3’s

Feb 1, 2009
Maybe it’s the Baja sun; perhaps it’s the tequila I’ve been forced to drink down here. But I just cannot understand the Vancouver Sun’s angst about the province financing one-third ($750 million) of the Port Mann project. The simple fact of the matter is that provincial government financing will reduce the tolls and/or taxes required… View Article

Chaoulli II?

Jan 30, 2009
So private surgical clinics, led by Brian Day, are suing the BC government so they can charge patients for services that they, the patients, already pay for through their taxes. What a surprise. Dr Day (aka Dr Profit) unveiled the lawsuit at a news conference on Wednesday at the Plaza 500 in Vancouver. I’d love… View Article

The utter stupidity of P3s in BC

Jan 30, 2009
For the “we told you so” file. The BC government has been insisting on P3s (so-called “public-private partnerships” where the private sector builds and operates infrastructure) all over the province. We at the CCPA have consistently argued that this practice is foolish: more complicated, more expensive, and leaving taxpayers holding the bag if anything bad… View Article

Forensic auditors say P3s expensive, biased and secret

Jan 29, 2009
So who are you going to believe about public private partnerships (P3s)? One side of the debate says they’re swell. They save money for taxpayers, they come in on budget and they transfer risk from governments to companies. But other people say details are kept secret from the public and that in fact they cost… View Article

Poverty reduction plan: can we afford it?

Jan 26, 2009
Perhaps the more appropriate question is: can we afford not to have one? Public policy is always about choices, and there is no excuse for poverty in a society as wealthy as ours. Consider this: the total cost of getting everyone in British Columbia currently below the poverty line (the after-tax Low Income Cut Off)… View Article

Burning down the house

Jan 25, 2009
Sometimes I see a letter to the editor that in one sentence captures the essence of what I was thinking but does it better and shorter. A Malcolm McSporran pulled that off yesterday (January 21) in the Vancouver Sun. Here is his letter. “Which is less expensive — to provide people with decent housing or… View Article

Obama opens doors closed in BC

Jan 25, 2009
One of President Barack Obama’s first acts was to reverse an order from the Bush regime that undermined Freedom of Information requests. What a contrast to the British Columbia government. In opposition Gordon Campbell was a big freedom of Information supporter. In 1998 he wrote to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association saying: The… View Article

P3s: the cubic zirconium of public projects

Jan 25, 2009
Jonathan Fowlie and Lori Gilbert did a first rate job of looking at one facet of public private partnerships (P3’s) in the January 23 Vancouver Sun. P3’s are one part of the BC government’s enthusiasm for privatization. Private companies pay for the development of public infrastructure or services and then run the projects for decades… View Article