In defence of Christy Clark
Christy Clark has just endured one of her worst weeks since becoming premier.
It started when Angus Reid Public Opinion poll showed that the B.C. Liberals are still mired at 31 percent among decided voters.
Then a controversy erupted over the role of two Prince George–area cabinet ministers, Shirley Bond and Pat Bell, in the awarding of a contract.
According to the Globe and Mail, documents suggest that they "were aware of and appear to have played a role in the procurement process for a multimillion-dollar contract in Prince George".
Then there was the leaked document outlining how the B.C. Liberals were prepared to use government resources to help the party woo nonwhite voters.
That prompted John Yap to step down as the minister of advanced education, innovation and technology. He's been the B.C. Liberal minister responsible for multiculturalism.
It looks like the B.C. Liberals are doomed in the next election.
And for many of us, Christy Clark's short premiership will go down as a footnote in B.C. history.
It's fashionable and valid to bash Clark for the way her officials have erased the boundary between the government and her party.
But in office, she has still managed to make a few progressive moves to reverse a couple of the worst aspects of the Campbell legacy.
These measures include:
• Increasing the minimum wage from $8 to $10.25 per hour—something Gordon Campbell always refused to do.
• Allowing employable social-assistance recipients to earn up to $200 per month in addition to their benefits. Under Campbell, the B.C. government clawed back every dollar earned by an employable person on welfare.
• Increasing taxes on the wealthiest British Columbians. Any taxable income beyond $150,000 is assessed at 16.8 percent rather than the 14.7 percent rate charged during the Campbell era.
These days, it's rare for North American governments to raise income taxes for the rich, especially when this notion is so widely condemned by right-wing newspaper editors and free-market think tanks like the Fraser Institute.
Individually, each of these steps appears relatively modest. But collectively, they amount to a repudiation of the core neoliberal tenets of the Campbell regime, which was often guided by Fraser Institute thinking.
Clark's progressive policy changes all match proposals of the B.C. NDP—and perhaps Adrian Dix is correct when he accuses Clark of stealing his party's ideas.
But the end result is a slightly better life for some of the province's poorest residents.