BC election, Unions jump ship, Canadian Journalism crisis

BC will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 9th to vote for a new provincial government. Recently, Global News Ontario ran a headline “Christy Clark is the most disliked leader running in the BC election”. Will she go the way of Stephen Harper? Or will it matter? It didn’t in the 2013 election.

It appears that Christy Clark is riding two horses at the same time. One horse is the unions and the other is the corporations.

When one considers past BC elections, usually corporations support the BC Liberals and union leaders support the NDP.

Unions jump ship

To appeal to the unions, the BC Liberals have promised union jobs for the proposed $9 billion Site C dam and $3.5 billion Massey Bridge. In the beginning of March the Ironworkers Local 97 leader along with the vice president of Iron Workers International came to Victoria to endorse the BC Liberals.

Locally in Nanaimo, the IAFF local 905 Nanaimo Professional Firefighters have endorsed the BC Liberals as well.

What has changed? Maybe there isn’t much incentive to vote for the NDP when you’re in the top tax bracket. Who needs $10 a day daycare? These two unions represent a new elite amongst organized labour.

In Nanaimo there are 43 firefighters employed by the City of Nanaimo who earn between $92,000 and $141,000 according to 2014 statistics. A four-year agreement signed in July 2015 with City of Nanaimo gave firefighters pay increases of 2.5% for each year in the period of 2012 to December 2015.

At the same time, BC Paramedics are destitute in comparison, earning an average wage between $20 and $30 per hour. Part-time paramedics often earn as little as $2 per hour in pager pay. BC’s paramedics are busy gathering signatures by April 10th to gain the same bargaining rights, wages and resources as firefighters. Since 2010, they have been lumped in with admitting clerks, lab technicians and cleaning staff.

In keeping with their right-wing voters, BC Liberals have been privatizing these public services. An Abbotsford based company handles all the hospital transfers in the Lower Mainland.

Mega Debt

How is BC going to paying for mega projects such as the $9 billion Site C dam and the $3.5 billion Massey Bridge?  Offshore oil rich Newfoundland is having to implement austerity measures because of the Muskrat Falls Dam project which ballooned to $11 billion. Yet there are no worries in BC about paying for these massive projects.

It can only mean one thing— BC is getting outside help. There is no free lunch with China. Just look at what happened in Sri Lanka at the port city of Colombo. China Communications Construction Company, a huge government-controlled entity, funded approximately $30 billion of infrastructure projects at Colombo which were ultimately done by Chinese labour.

Canadian Journalism in Crisis

This past Friday, The Vancouver Sun and Province laid off 29 journalists. Last year Postmedia combined the Sun and Province newsrooms because of cuts.

Postmedia was already in debt after taking over the Canwest newspaper chain when in 2015, they got federal approval to purchase Quebecor’s Sun Media chain of 173 newspapers. They have become the largest English language newspaper chain in Canada.

Postmedia is a holding company controlled by a New Jersey hedge fund, which specializes in public pensions.

For the past year, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage chaired by MP Hedy Fry has been hearing from media outlets across the country under the topic “The Media and Local Communities” to study the impact of digital technology. Many of the tv, cable and newspaper outlets claim that they can’t make any money covering local news and want some kind of government assistance.

BC Election hot topics

There will be more MLA’s running in this election. Two new seats have been added bringing the total to 87 seats both in the Lower Mainland. The 40th Parliament consisted of:

  • BC Liberals 48
  • BC NDP 35
  • Green 1
  • Independent 1

Currently, there is a lawsuit against the BC Liberals for spending $15 million of government money on ads promoting their party. Also, making the news are the large donations from ‘cash for access’ dinners and events. The BC Liberal Party has stated in the news it will refund $93,000 of donations that were made with untraceable credit cards. Who made these donations? What favours were they hoping to get?

Some hot topics for the upcoming BC election include:

  • opioid crisis
  • homeless epidemic
  • public school closures
  • rental evictions
  • Site C dam
  • Massey Bridge
  • raw log exports
  • public schools closing
  • unaffordable ferry service