Friday, January 25, 2013

The AG Firing/Re-Hiring Fiasco...A Reader's Reality Check


The following are the comments from a regular reader, 'Scotty on Denman', in response to one of our recent 'Auditor General Firing/Re-Hiring Fiasco' posts.

It's tour de force that came our way on the wings of back-to-back-to-back comments, and it makes a well-reasoned, big picture case for why it is so important for all British Columbians that the current AG, John Doyle, remain on the job for a significant period after the upcoming provincial election:

(T)he AG will need time to audit BC Rail (the hot one), stadium roof, BC Hydro and the P(acific)C(arbon)T(rust). That amount of time will of course depend on whether auditable documents are produced in a forthright manner or not. Would it be partisan to note that the BC Liberals have never co-operated with the AG, have never presented figures based on accepted accounting principles? I think not, although the statement that the BC Liberals will never provide those figures probably is.

I would like to add another reason to the list: Minister Coleman's absolution of Western Forest Product's obligation to repay the discounted land tax it enjoyed on its private forest lands on SW Van Isle when it was permitted to take said lands out of the tax shelter and begin residential real estate development (the tax shelter is intended to encourage large property owners to keep their lands under continuous forest production; the discount permits paying a small percentage of what typical residential land tax payers pay.) The AG already said this act was "not in the public interest."

It's a matter of opinion whether allowing WFP to opt out of the land tax shelter was a good idea or not. It is quite another thing to favour them by absolving their obligation to repay the discounted tax afterward.

Come to think of it, we'll need AG Doyle to stay on for as long as it takes to integrate current public accounts with the upcoming forensic accounting of the BC Liberal kleptocracy, for surely their sins will be visited upon our future prospects.

The rash, ham-handed, self-serving and ultimately futile misappropriations of public money characteristic of doomed regimes will be relatively easy to unravel; the first five BC Liberal semesters will in contrast be much more difficult to discern. Soon after the fates of the FastCat ferries and BC Rail were sealed, Gordon Campbell realized ( by way of Mike Harris' demise over Ontario Hydro) his neo-right ideal could only be achieved by stealth and thenceforward orchestrated a hands-on, byzantine and often disguised integration of of those ideals with cogency, consistency and thoroughness (that would have been admirable if it had served the public interest) throughout the civil service. Cogency and top-down control were key to its temporary success.

Unfortunately for BC, it will be the insidious, pervasive neo-right tendrils infesting the civil service, so characteristic of Gordon Campbell, that will haunt budgets for years to come. The crass and boorish fire-spotting that is supposed to pass for policy, so typical of Christy Clark, is in comparison relatively minor , relatively easy to expose and, happily for BC, much more temporary.

Stealth, cogency and top-down control were essential to Campbell's neo-right agenda. The day he had to go off-script was the day his slide began. Probably relieved in imagining that the BC Rail corruption trial had essentially been put to bed, he was soon confronted with the grim realities that eventually challenge every ideology: the neo-right recipe for broad prosperity was undeniably failing the vast majority, enriching the already-rich, and, worse for the BC Liberals, the forecast deficit of over $2 billion was six times bigger than the figure they'd been campaigning on throughout the 2009 election campaign. Here Campbell's trusty cogency rule was expeditiously ignored; thus top-down and stealth alone were deployed to hide the deficit emergency.

Once voters realized they'd been duped by Campbell's HST 'not-on-the-radar' lie, he now abandoned stealth and played his final card: the peace-offering of an immediate 15% personal tax cut, a completely top-down move that took even his cabinet unawares and in no way showed any policy or fiscal cogency whatsoever. And then he was finished, effectively fired by his own cabinet for the sake of the disgraced party (they said it was because he was a meanie but never acknowledged nor apologized for the deficit and HST campaign lies.)

Campbell was by most accounts an overweening control freak who is probably quite justified in assigning himself full credit for achieving many of the objectives prescribed by neo-right ideology (the beggaring of the public weal and substitution of a profiteering hegemony.) He appeared therefore bitter resigning what in his mind were the fruits of his leadership for his betrayers to enjoy. Having carried the HST can for Prime Minister Harper during his own trip to the polls, Campbell probably employed the meanness reputed to him by caucus to extricate a plum patronage position from the man who never did have to wear the HST lie, even though he was equally culpable. But probably most irksome to the now disgraced ex-Premier was the fact that his caucus never cut him any slack. After all, didn't he cut Rich Coleman some slack when the "Minister of Everything" (then Minister of Forests) brazenly chucked Campbell's essential rules out the window?

_________Please note that 'scotty' wrote this series of comments in response to an excellent earlier comment from another reader named Hugh.....It's the part bolded, above, that I, personally, really dig....Well, that and the use of the term 'thenceforward'...



Markerbuoy said...

Let CC4BC (numskulls) put that in their pipe & smoke it.
...'been reading your blog some for some time, Ross. Keep up the good work.

RossK said...

Hey MBuoy--

Thanks for stopping by!

You know, if Scotty set up his own shop I, for one, know I would read him regularly.


Scotty on Denman said...

Ross: thanks for putting my comment up and your kind words. I should add there's a significant knock-on initiated by Coleman's indiscretion as it affects land taxes, 3P hospitals and coal mines in the E&N Railway land grant. But that's a big, tangled subject written over a century and a half, something for another time (or another blog), perhaps. Thenceforward I'll remember your encouragement.

I marvel at your productivity, don't know how you do it but sure appreciate it nonetheless.

Work to do. Keep it rollin'.