Friday, June 14, 2019

An Insider Explains The Havoc That The BC Liberals' New Era Wreaked.


The following is from a post I wrote in the deepest, darkest days of GordCo Inc's destruction of British Columbia's social contract back in late 2005:

The central tenet of the neandercons' con is that the private sector can run absolutely everything more efficiently than government.

Thus, the mainstream media-driven mantra that 'privatization is good for everyone.'

Unfortunately, even in specific situations where skeptics like me might, in a weak moment, be willing to meet them halfway, things rarely work out as planned.

Witness CN's recent repeated derailments, or Maximus' repeated problems answering phone calls, or BC Ferries' repeated difficulties keeping propellers turning.

But all of these problems pale in comparison to those that have engulfed the Ministry of Children and Family Development since Mr. Campbell and his minions began to wreak their havoc in 2001.

Sound a little over the top?



Remember Doug Walls?

Remember the ditching of community- based small non-profits for the centralized business model?

Remember how inefficient that turned out to be and how much it cost us?

Remember the eight, maybe nine, figure cutbacks?

Remember the bloviating of former BC Liberal cabinet ministers, one of whom later quit and tried to become Mayor of Vancouver?

Remember the death of the little girl at the hands of a clearly unsuitable relative acting as a foster parent?

Heard about the almost total breakdown of the effectiveness of social workers whose caseloads have skyrocketted?

Sure, we all know all about that.

And now we also know about the tragic case of another little girl's death that was never even investigated because of the total emasculation of child protection oversight initiated by the BC Liberals.

This tragedy is not something that can be waved away with rhetoric. It is political dynamite and a former special investigator who worked with the coroner's office named Kathleen Stephany is not pulling any punches as she comes out swinging with her side of the story.

Of course, as a prelude to the stonewall to come, the savaging of Ms. Stephany has already begun because, rumour has it, she is nothing more than a 'disgruntled former employee'.

Trains jumping the tracks repeatedly because a former crown, now private, corporation is cutting costs in narrow, twisting canyons is one thing, but business model-mediated mistreatment of defenseless children is an act malfeasance that must end.


Unfortunately, nothing really started to change for another eleven years that wasn't driven by the courts. Even the independent child and youth representative, which was first disappeared early in GordCo Inc's 'New Era' but later reinstated in the wake of a scathing report by Ted Hughes that dealt with, among many other undefensible things, the uninvestigated deaths of  hundreds of children in  the New Era's so called 'care'.

But here's the thing....

Those of us that were paying attention back in the day could see that all of those things listed above (and more) were bad, intentional and ideological. In addition, we could also see that they were driven by willful tax cuts, often for the most wealthy among us, that created huge deficits that required massive budget cuts that helped justified privatization.

How do we now know for sure that we were right all along?

Well, it turns out that one of GordCo Inc's longest serving capos, former BC Liberal minister George Abbott has written a political science dissertation telling everyone concerned that this was, indeed the case;

Andrew Macleod has the story in the Tyee.

Here is a bit about how GordCo's New Era approach resulted in the savaging of the Child and Family Services ministry that ultimately made the Hughes investigation necessary:

...“Although the tax cut was undoubtedly popular among many British Columbians, few fully understood the fiscal repercussions that would follow,” Abbott wrote. “Cautionary advice was dismissed and tax cuts quickly translated into a $4.4-billion deficit and deep expenditure reductions for ministries other than Health, Education, and Advanced Education.”

Since the three protected ministries made up 70 per cent of the province’s budget, deep cuts had to be made in the resource and social ministries that make up the rest of provincial spending.

Abbott goes into detail with chapters on what those cuts meant in three ministries: community, Aboriginal and women’s services; human resources; and children and family development.

In the case of the children and families ministry, where the impact was perhaps most dramatic, the focus became on reducing the caseload. That eventually led to news stories about the deaths of children and the failure to review many of those deaths, and a report by Ted Hughes that traced the issue back to the 2001 budget cuts.

In Abbott’s account, the Liberals’ 2001 campaign promises to maintain and improve services were trumped by tax cuts and fiscal commitments.

“When the generous vision for children and families embraced by the New Era document proved incompatible with the twin imperatives of tax cuts in 2001 and a balanced budget by 2004, the vision succumbed to those political imperatives,” he wrote.

“Unfunded cost pressures proved a recurrent challenge across the New Era and demonstrated one point conclusively: demand for services may rise or fall for any number of economic, demographic or social reasons, but concern for a finance minister’s balanced budget will not be among them.”...


There is much that is laudable in Mr. Abbott's attempt to set the record straight, after the fact.


Why did he not do something about the problem at the time or, at the very least, why did he not quit and tell British Columbians what was really going on when it was still possible do something about it?

Here is Mr. Abbott's explanation, again from Mr. McLeod's Tyee piece:

...“I think some people will be surprised that I’m as blunt as I am,” Abbott said in an interview, adding that his account is a cautionary tale for politicians everywhere. “I think governments should be extraordinarily cautious before launching any tax cut that in an adverse economic shift will produce drastic cuts to public programs.”

The tax cut, despite its large impact, was never debated in cabinet, Abbott said. “There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to say anything at the time. It was a done deal on day one.”

He acknowledged some people would ask why there wasn’t more public dissent from him or others inside the government. Abbott said despite his misgivings and belief that a more modest tax cut would have been wiser, he chose to remain optimistic, work hard and hope for the best...

Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that Mr. Abbott's approach in that regard was so laudable.

Especially that 'hope for the best' part given that the demonstrable evidence at the time indicated that, in many cases, the worst was in fact occurring.

Update: Apologies for getting monicker wrong initially.



Anonymous said...

Great rant! The Tyee piece is too soft.

A little correction, it is Abbott not Hogg.


Anonymous said...

BC?-hospital deaths from c difficile possibly due to contract flipping?

Fed?-possibly overloaded train death dereailment possibly due to overloading?ie too long of a train?

Glen Clark said...

Abbott wants to make me gag

e.a.f. said...

They were/are monster. What the B.C. Lieberals did was endanger lives and cost others their lives. If the law was useful they would have charged el gordo, Abbott and the rest with some thing along the lines of accessory to murder. The fact children and adults died wasn't an accident.

The MSM media made their own contributions to the disaster and death. they didn't do their jobs as reporters/journalists, etc. One could say in their silence they were complicit.

May they all rot in hell (if there is one).

During all of this, it were the community activists and bloggers who reported the truth.

For those living in Ontario, they might want to pay attention. Ford did hire el gordo as his advisor and what is going on there isn't an accident. Its just the people in Ontario are a tad smarter than those in B.C. Ontario citizens have taken to the streets to protest.

e.a.f. said...

ah, yes deficile, remember that well. 86 people died in Burnaby General in 2 1/2 years. The "investigation" seemed to be stacked with B.C. Liebercon insiders.

Bathrooms in some hospitals were so dirty, patients would go to the lobby, and use the public bathrooms because they were cleaner. Some patients would have family member clean the beds and surroundings once they were admitted. finding some one else's blood on the bed wasn't uncommon.

Those contracts still are in force. It will be a very good thing when the NDP gets rid of them and starts hiring their own workers again. Many hospital cleaners are tired all the time, they work two jobs to stay afloat. How can they do an adequate job?

When a family member was in hospital last year, the R.N. had to clean the bathroom before the patients could use it. An R.N. at $70K a year cleaning toilets because there was no cleaner on the floor yet. that is not how you run a hospital. The NDP has made great strides in health care, but that is one thing they might want to get around to. Dirty hospitals lead to more deaths.

RossK said...

Thanks for the catch Anon-At-The-Top--

All fixed...

Likely projecting on the 'reasonable' figures that were periodically trotted out to disguise GordCo Inc's most extreme actions.



Indeed, there were many more instances of the dismantling and regressive tax shifting, not to mention the cronification of things like private power that followed the examples noted way back in 2005.



Are you, perhaps, suggesting that there was an ulterior motive in Mr. Abbott's academic undertaking?



To be fair, there was some proMedia coverage of various extremities, but it was most often one-offs followed by counterpunching and re-balancing because, apparently, diving deep to get to the (real) bottom of things just wasn't done.


Anonymous said...

Check out social procurement policy under current government. Opens social care to for profit entities.

e.a.f. said...

why is Abbott writing a political science dissertation? Is he in school?
If he is, IN MY OPINION, he's writing this, as he is, to get himself a J O B.

This is about money and given he has been out of politics for some time perhaps he needs the money. It is doubtful he has had a "come to jesus moment", so its about money or a job. he sat on his hands while it was going on because he didn't want to loose money/job. Once a whore always a whore. O.K. whores do work for their money and provide a service. What some of those Socred/B.C. Lieberals did to earn their money is still beyond me, except make life good for some of their "friends" and destroyed the lives of other. o.k. I'm still not over it.

It was during this time I started writing letters to the editor and was able to have them published once a week in the local papers and on occasion in Post Media publications if they weren't "too" critical of the B.C. Lieberals. To this day it still bothers me that people just sat around and let these things happen to children and the disabled. Don't think I'll ever get past Christy Clark saying the province couldn't afford to let children keep the child support from the non custodial parent. She said the province "needed" the $14M savings. There are still times when I think about it, I want to puke. She ought to be in jail for child endangerment. On the other hand the voters of this province appear to have been good with it because no one tried to "recall" her and there weren't massive protests in the streets about it either. At least in Ontario there appear to be more protests regarding the cut backs than we had in B.C.

None of what went on during these years impacted me or mine, but just to have watched what happened to the disabled and children during the time frame......its the same sort of thing, the Republicans are doing to Latino children in camps. Its different things, but in the end it has the same effect, children are damaged for life and some die because of government action/inaction.

After this rant, I goggled Abbott. Yes, he is graduating with a PhD. He is most likely trying to clean up his image and get a JOB. In my opinion, his type don't usually write these types of things unless there is an ulterior motive and something in it for themselves.

time to look at the roses in the garden.

Bruce mitchell said...

I do not trust his intentions

Bruce mitchell said...

He is probably looking for an academic additional pension.... trough boy

e.a.f. said...

Agree there Bruce Mitchell If Abbott had really cared about children and/or the disabled, he would have resigned because he certainly couldn't do anything to change things and there is no evidence he tried to change things. He is just making up his excuses now because he is going to look for a job teaching. Oh, perhaps his old friends at the fraser institute will hire him.

Perhaps its time for Abbot to find out if he can take it the way he dished it out.

Anonymous said...

George knew it was a sham the moment HE was put in charge of Women's Services.

Keep in mind that the infamous 25% tax cut that the BC Liberals campaigned on was only going to go to the bottom 50% of folks, but Campbell made it across the board which where the real budget deficit came from... and the higher income earners were saying: 'we never asked for this, and we don't need it'.

The full 239 page .pdf is here:

Anonymous said...

One wonders what Martyn Brown will tap down on this?

J MacDuff (Weatherguy) said...

Abbott is just another creep trying to creep back into power. You see little stories popping up about Liberals.Media coverage. They want back in and the media wants in on it again. Shameful, all around.

Jaundiced Eye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scotty on Denman said...

—education minister and future premier Christy Clark soaked the public treasury to ideologically defend the constitutionally indefensible.

Enjoy the federal political and diplomatic thunder and lightning approaching, but never forget: the BC Liberals must not be re-elected.

Hopefully George Abbott’s thesis contributes to refreshing BC voters’ memories about how bad his party was as government. Hopefully revelations like this with contribute to the larger indictment of the BC Liberal regime and, by the time the next BC election rolls around, they won’t be able to get elected dog-catcher.

Have a nicer day, everybody! Keep up the great work, Ross!