Comment: One question that Horgan must answer

A commentary by a former deputy minister in 10 ministries under five premiers, who also ran his own small business for 20 years. 

I feel terribly let down.

Been around politics for 50 years. A senior public servant for one half of my career. Close to the chamber pot, but not in it.

Two confessions.

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I wrote four op eds for the Times Colonist about problems I perceived with management of the COVID-19 pandemic. I stopped when the legislature was back sitting, as that is the Opposition’s job.

They handled the Opposition role badly, but co-operated so fulsomely in a strange way it destroys Premier John Horgan’s sophomoric rationale that the election is essential to ensure stability.

We are all enamoured with Dr. Bonnie Henry and the fabulous job she did, but an election is not about her — after all, she will still be in her position, whomever wins, providing her calm advice. No, it is about the government.

And to this government’s credit, it has managed the crisis effectively, and it shows in the polls with support in the 70th percentile.

But that fact also leads to my sense of feeling let down.

As someone known as a political pundit, I have often been asked in recent months about whether Horgan would go to the polls because of his huge public support over handling the pandemic. Of course, Canada’s success has resulted in all provincial premiers receiving a real bounce.

Even Doug Ford in Ontario is up there with numbers like our premier.

I would argue that our morals-challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who did not miss a pandemic day without a spending announcement or an apology, would go to the polls. Then WE happened, and oops, maybe not.

My faith was in our man of principle who would show reason to keep my confidence in politics done right, and would comfortably see out his mandate.

Well, to my chagrin, Horgan called an election.

And, during the rebound time for the pandemic, breaking his word, and the law he passed.

I imagine the lure of being the first NDP premier to win two, back to back elections, thereby securing his legacy, was too much of an attraction.

That was combined with pressure from unelected advisers concerned with job security, masked in forceful arguments of party continuance. I have borne witness to similar in my time in government.

But I would remind him.

The greatest prime minister in the British Parliamentary system in the past 150 years, Winston Churchill, won the Second World War, and lost the next election.

The controversy over the premier’s decision hides the very big elephant in the room. We have incurred massive debt, so what taxes are coming?

There is no doubt it was necessary that government spend unheard-of levels of tax dollars on a vigorous range of funding programs to face this unprecedented crisis.

There is also no doubt that the NDP, with their union inside connections, managed the pandemic better than the Liberals could have. It is easier to stand with friends.

But I wonder about their ability to manage the economy, create jobs, generate wealth and therefore tax revenue to handle the debt-load.

As James Carville, Bill Clinton’s strategist in 1992, said about their election against President George H.W. Bush, that applies here: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

We must remember business start-up and job generation like to receive Band-Aid grants, and it sounds good to talk about co-ordinating, and consulting.

However, government’s role in successful economic growth and job creation depends almost entirely on long-range, stable tax policy. That is the true beacon that guides business planning. And that is how jobs are created.

To date, we have heard nothing, zero, about taxes.

How will we pay for all the tax dollars spent, now pure and simple debt? Our collective debt. The only time we are truly in this all together is to pay taxes to finance it.

How do we distribute the tax pain and over what period of time?

I think Horgan has to answer this question:

You broke your promise with the Greens to get power. You broke your promise by calling an election, violating the law you passed.

So why will you not break the promises in your economic plan with dramatic new tax increases to cover all the spending and resultant debt?

We need to hear the words:

“NO NEW TAXES OR TAX INCREASES IN THE NEXT MANDATE.”

Best of luck to all the brave noble souls contesting the election. It is the time for hard questions, and truth in answering. Now that would be a nice change.

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