It’s staggering to consider what the B.C. government could do with $64 million.
In Sicamous alone, that money could be used to help fund a badly needed upgrade to the municipality’s water treatment centre. It would also easily cover the cost of repairing damage to the Red Barn Arts Centre incurred during the summer flooding.
Of course, that money would be an effective anti-inflammatory to the province’s swelling deficit. According to B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong, British Columbians can expect the deficit to reach $1.47 billion. Although, De Jong and Premier Christy Clark say they can have things back in the black by 2013 – perhaps even by the May election? (Nudge nudge, wink wink.)
Instead of these or other projects that might have a tangible, positive impact on the lives of British Columbians, $64 million, or close to it, represents the BC Liberal government’s advertising budget over the two years Clark has served as premier. This is according to a recent piece by political columnist Vaughn Palmer.
Included in this is the province’s $5 million attempt to sell the HST, and millions more promoting the so-called BC Jobs Plan. This includes a $15 million campaign focused on skill training and jobs, and $11 million in contingency, with no specifics on how it will be spent.
Granted, there may be some positive outcomes from all of this spending on TV, radio and newsprint ads. But, as critics rightly point out, these are your tax dollars that the government is spending on what essentially amounts to self-aggrandizing propaganda leading up to the May 2013 provincial election. And it is being spent at a time when Clark and company is repeatedly insisting there is no money to be had (a mantra of ministry reps at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities convention), while enforcing a “net-zero” policy on public-sector workers seeking any semblance of a wage increase.
Palmer notes $64 million is double what the government spends annually on parks, three times what it spends on arts, culture and sports, and “half as much again” as what it spends on crime prevention.