By David F. Rooney
Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne in Victoria was short on facts and figures but long on rhetoric that, it seemed to MLA Norm Macdonald, “is really Orwellian.”
“The language is really Orwellian in that what they’re doing is using words like ‘innovation’ and ‘progress’ when what they’re really doing is very destructive” he said in an interview Wednesday. “That’s part of the trouble with the Throne Speech. What do they really mean?”
He noted that while the speech, read to the Legislature by Lieut.-Gov. Steven Point, is generally meant to be a broad statement of the government’s intentions for the future its use of language is suspect. (You can read a transcript of the Speech from the Throne here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th2nd/4-8-39-2.htm.)
Macdonald noted that while the government paints a rosy picture around the environment, around so-called clean energy, health care and education it doesn’t really spell out what it means. That makes its use of language almost synonymous with the Newspeak of George Orwell’s novel 1984. In 1984 Newspeak peace meant war, love meant hate and truth meant lies.
The Throne Speech says, “A new Clean Energy Act will encourage new investments in independent power production while also strengthening BC Hydro.”
But, in fact, Macdoanld said, government policy regarding green power projects is costing BC Hydro $450 million a year and he wonders how that strengthens it. He pointed to a submission to the Green Energy Task Force, by BC Hydro’s largest industrial customers that says the government’s electricity export scheme will force the tulity to pay independent power producers twice as much for electricity as it would be worth on the open market. This overpayment will cost BC Hydro $450 million per year, or $9 billion over the next 20 years. BC Hydro is a crown corporation which means that profits are returned to the province to fund healthcare, education and other government services.
“The BC Liberals are promoting the privatization of our rivers to generate electricity which taxpayers through BC Hydro will be forced to buy at exorbitant rates,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for BC Hydro, and it doesn’t make sense for British Columbians.”
And then there’s education. The speech says “education improvements will focus on the individual and unique needs of our children.” The MLA wonders how it plans to do that when school boards across BC are struggling with budgets that have already been slashed to the bone.
But David Pacey, president of the Columbia River-Revelstoke BC Liberal Association says the Throne Speech really does contain some new ideas and approaches.
“One of the big things I read… is that there could be some interesting and systemic changes and improvements in the coming year to our province,” he said in an e-mail.
Pacey pointed to what he identified as 20 key points. These include working more closely with the federal government on environmental assessments, launching a new Investment Process Review that should be good for business, striking a committee on municipal property taxes to make property taxes fairer and instituting a new Family with Children Property Tax Deferral Option for all BC families with children under 18.
Revelstokians will have opportunities next week to question both MLA Norm Macdonald about this and Forestry Minister Pat Bell. Bell will be in town on Monday, Feb. 15 meeting interested constituents in the Begbie Room at The Regent starting at 7 pm. You must RSVP to meet bell by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Macdonald will be in Revelstoke on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Community Centre. Call 1-866 870-4188 or send an e-mail to email@example.com if you would like an appointment see him.