Bob Simpson: MLAs should be fired, too
By Bob Simpson
There is nothing more hypocritical than a politician who espouses fiscal prudence, preaches the evils of deficits and debt, and votes year over year for budgets with massive deficits.
That’s what the B.C. Liberals have done this entire term: they have preached fiscal discipline, all the while requiring every one of their MLAs to vote “Yea” to successive budgets with huge deficits that grew the provincial debt by over $15 billion in just three years.
The B.C. NDP will be no better. It too will force its MLAs to vote for deficit budgets because they don’t have the courage of their convictions to raise enough government revenue to be able to deliver on their promises to fix B.C.’s struggling health care, education, and social-services systems.
The ability to deficit finance without penalty is what allows provincial and federal politicians to reduce our taxes in order to buy our votes, while lying to us about being able to deliver quality public services.
What if individual MLAs were fired if they voted for deficit budgets? Ludicrous, you say?
Tell that to school trustees who get fired by the education minister if they try to present a deficit budget because they refuse to close schools and want the province to cover the real costs of delivering quality education to our children.
Tell that to local government representatives who are bound by law to balance their budgets every year, and who don’t enjoy the luxury of federal and provincial politicians, who can repeal their balanced budget “law” when it suits their interests.
Until individual MLAs (and MPs) are forced to answer for voting for deficit financing, we’ll never have the difficult and necessary conversation about balancing our expectations for government with our willingness to pay.
If we truly believe that public debt is unsustainable and that deficit financing is imprudent and dishonest, then we must find a way to force every parliamentarian to address the revenue and expense equation each year, or over the course of an election cycle.
Forcing MPs and MLAs to be accountable when introducing and voting for our budgets would go a long way toward breaking the over-the-top party discipline that’s exercised today. Our elected representatives must be compelled to be more honest about the need to have revenue in order to deliver on the promises they make.
Bob Simpson is the independent MLA for Cariboo North.