Lana Popham: B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s new bike clothes

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      By Lana Popham

      We all know the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about the self-absorbed emperor who foolishly believes he is wearing a suit made of cloth that is visible only to those who are intelligent and upstanding. He can’t see the cloth himself, but pretends otherwise so as to not lose face. As he parades naked through the town, a child calls out “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” and the obvious truth is revealed.

      I was reminded of this story recently while watching a video clip from 2008 on the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Web site. Premier Gordon Campbell is dressed in his finest cycling outfit and proudly announcing $31 million for cycling infrastructure.

      The video is still featured on the government’s site, and the press release of $31 million is still trumpeted as news. Their promise is exciting:

      Cyclists throughout British Columbia will benefit from new, safe and high-quality cycling trails, bike lanes, bike lockers and more, thanks to Bike BC, a $31-million program for cycling infrastructure.

      Bike BC is one of the largest investments the Province has ever made in building and improving cycling infrastructure in communities across the province. This will enhance cycling as an option for people to commute, run errands or spend their leisure time.

      The program is a strategic investment to build important cycling corridors of regional and provincial significance and will be awarded province wide over the next three years. Some possible projects are new bike trails and cycling lanes, improvements to existing cycling infrastructure, and providing for bike lockers and other equipment that makes cycling a safer and more convenient option for travelers.

      Cycling is a key component of the Province’s strategy for encouraging healthy living and addressing climate change, in conjunction with the Climate Action Plan and the Provincial Transit Plan.

      This was an exciting moment for cyclists, cycling advocacy groups, people who support green transportation, and people who believe fighting climate change should be a priority. And it was a moment of relief: the government promised three years of support for initiatives that could address so many things for so many people.

      But it was not to be.

      No matter how long they continue to try and take credit for this progressive step, the fact is it is a step that was never taken.

      The $31 million was cancelled just as surely as the cycling infrastructure was never completed. In fact, funding for cycling support was cut in the budget this month by more than 66 percent. Another broken promise.

      And to add insult to injury, the HST will create a seven-percent increase in the cost of bikes, bike gear, and bike repairs. For 30 years there was a PST exemption for these expenses, with successive governments recognizing the health and environmental benefits of cycling. With the imposition of the HST, this government is creating a new disincentive to cycling.

      So here is the problem for the government. And believe me it’s a big problem. They have disappointed and deceived a very potent constituency in British Columbia. This is a group who is not necessarily defined by their political stripes, by their age, by their income level, or by any other demographic. This is a group that spans the political spectrum and the province, and they are frustrated and bewildered by this flip flop. It’s three years until the next election—and these people are going to remember.

      I think everybody understands our province is going through a period of economic turmoil. We get that. What we don’t understand is how a government can change its values. Values should not be affected by the economy.

      In the case of this government, they have gone from touting cycling as key component of the province’s strategy for encouraging healthy living and addressing climate change, to creating a new tax and pretending it’s to fund healthcare.

      So it is left for me to say it: the bike clothes are gone and this premier isn’t wearing anything at all.

      Lana Popham is a avid cyclist and the MLA for Saanich South on Vancouver Island. Her Web site www.squeakywheels.ca/ is bringing together cyclists who want the B.C. government to be bike-friendly again.

      Comments

      10 Comments

      Tired of Campbell greenwash

      Mar 18, 2010 at 3:48pm

      Well said Ms Popham!

      13 8Rating: +5

      Ray Mond

      Mar 18, 2010 at 9:57pm

      Umm world wide financial melt-down and recession with record deficits just to fun health and education. Think that might explain it? Just maybe? Or would you rather cut $31 million from schools and hospitals. It has to come from somewhere.

      UWSofty

      Mar 19, 2010 at 9:46am

      The government has no problem finding billions of dollars to expand Port Mann Bridge, Highway 1, and build the South Fraser Perimeter Road. That's where we should be looking to save money.

      Birdy

      Mar 19, 2010 at 2:11pm

      What we need is a 200% tax on pants that cost over $128.

      Fancy Pants Sales Tax

      15 5Rating: +10

      Pat.

      Mar 19, 2010 at 10:14pm

      What we need to do is cut funding for special interest groups that basically get nothing done and don't even generate votes.

      I could name a few....

      hinotes

      Mar 21, 2010 at 9:54am

      Campbell has also raised the fees, ( plus the HST) for campgrounds. Camping is the only holiday place left that, low income families could afford. The campgrounds have seriously deteriorated, they are, unkempt. Campbell and Hansen, have given millions, to banks, gas and oil company's, and large corporations. Campbell and Hansen, have placed BC, second to last for the poorest province in Canada. Campbell had the gall to tell his mla, Jane Thornthwaite, not to resign, just because she got a DUI during the Olympics. Where do we draw the line. Will Campbell and Thornthwaite support the drunk driver, who, killed a young cardiologist, and his bride to be? That is the last straw. Or, does drunk driving not count, until you kill someone? It is horrifying that, they are still in office. The Liberal Party, is the most terrible party on this planet. BC people especially, know, what the Liberals have done to this province.

      13 4Rating: +9

      special interest groups

      Mar 21, 2010 at 12:29pm

      The Fraser Institute
      CREA
      MLS
      The Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank,... (just shed 100 million in taxes)
      New Car Dealers Association of B.C. (just got a major tax break on all cars over $80000!)
      Private Medical Clinics (Falcon sees, hears, speaks no evil)
      Gordons personal cronies (see the BCRail corruption case)
      too many to list!

      BC Government trips up disabled and elderly

      Mar 26, 2010 at 12:04pm

      Disabled and elderly are on the hit list as BC Health provides severely disabled clients with transportation subsidy each year which BC Houisng administers. Only problem is disabled clients are not getting it this year as told they have to wait an extra month as already forced to live 5 week months with little or no food but now disabled are forced to live 13 month years. Apparently BC Government says its disabled can just sit tight another month as Minister reaps the rewards of interest rates off the disabled. while having his workers bully clients from asking for benefits that were put into place by Ministry of Health.

      mariner

      Apr 4, 2010 at 12:29pm

      ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE FROM GORDON CAMPBELL - TO FILE AWAY WITH ALL THE OTHERS (IF THERE IS ROOM LEFT).

      This poor excuse for a provincial leader has no respect for anyone these days - except for his own agenda, no matter how questionable it might be.

      Why not put a fixed roof on BC place and save maybe maybe 70% of the projected cost?

      Everyone is fair game for this narcissistic, self inflated, arrogant politician - even those that are too sick or poor to help themselves. We have a third reich in the making, methinks.

      Thank you

      mariner

      12 9Rating: +3