Curmudgeon explains the throne speech

"Andy Rooney" laughs at Liberal "jokesters".

Did you ever hear one of these corny, positive messages on someone's answering machine? "Hi, it's a great day and I'm out enjoying it right now. I hope you are too. The thought for the day is: 'Share the love.'

Beep. "Uh, yeah...this is the VD clinic calling... Speaking of being positive, your test results are back. Stop sharing the love."

-- Andy Rooney

Political Connections columnist Bill Tieleman was so confused by the B.C. Liberal government's throne speech last week that he begged his curmudgeon friend Andy Rooney of CBS's 60 Minutes to explain its positive message to readers.

These throne speeches you Canadians have—I just don't get it. The government writes this speech boasting about how great it is, and then you make the Queen's representative read it. How proud can you be of your accomplishments if you won't even make the damn speech yourself?

Anyway, I don't know why anyone would have a hard time understanding the message behind the B.C. Liberals' throne speech--it's dead simple.

"British Columbia is positively the best place on earth to eat your vegetables with Daniel Igali!"

What's so hard about that? It's not exactly like breaking the Da Vinci code, you know.

I actually really like your premier, Gordon Campbell. He is one great comedian.

Now, the lieutenant governor, Iona Campagnolo--she's the Queen's handmaiden, or whatever you call it, for B.C.--well, she reads the speech for Gordo.

So here's my favourite line of the whole throne speech: "Today, we are entering a golden decade for British Columbia."

So, I wondered to myself, did Premier Campbell think up that line himself while he was stepping over beggars in downtown Vancouver? I bet Campbell meant a golden opportunity for food banks and pawn shops.

But there were so many wonderful lines in the speech that really had me laughing out loud.

Like this one, saying the government will work: "To lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none."

Jumping gee whillikers, is that ever funny! The B.C. Liberals are promoting the use of coal-fired electricity plants and they dramatically increased the number of polluting fish farms, and then they had the minister himself tip the owner off before government inspectors arrived to bust it!

And the best air quality: too rich! These guys actually overturned rules that banned smoking in bars!

That was just the start. Next Iona reads that the government is committed "to build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, special needs, children at risk, and seniors."

No flipping kidding! What a laugh riot! The Liberals went to the Supreme Court of Canada and won a case to make sure they didn't have to pay for treatment for autistic children, after they promised to help them! They tried to make 18,000 people with disabilities fill out a 23-page form just to keep getting their measly, chintzy benefits! The Liberals were going to cut 9,000 of them off completely until they got caught out.

Kids at risk? They cut the Children and Families Ministry budget by $171 million since 2001. How risky is that?

And seniors, hoo-boy! The Liberals promised to create 5,000 new long-term care beds by 2006, but guess how many they've done so far? A whopping 170. You just have to like how brassy these guys are. Of course, it's not our fault, they say, it's the fault of--wait for it--the NDP! I didn't know the NDP were in power the last three and a half years.

Then there's this one: "There is new wealth to sustain expanded services for those most vulnerable in our society."

The only problem is, the Liberals ain't gonna let them have any of that new wealth! It's going for tax cuts, not welfare, buddy. Just what were you thinking?

And have you ever noticed the way these Liberals listen and show sympathy to people, like in the statement "Your government recognizes that rising tuition costs are a concern to many B.C. families"?

Of course they "recognize" rising tuition costs--these Liberal jokesters allowed them to double in only three years! They're so concerned, they're going to keep allowing schools to raise them, but just not as much as before.

And I like this idea, that the government "will build on the Dream Home China project". Now, I'm not sure, but I think the Dream Home China project was built by children in a Communist dictatorship that bans elections, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, real unions, and health and safety rules. Dream on.

Here's another good one that makes me chuckle: "It takes time but, in every area of health care, progress is apparent." Apparently, no one in the Liberal government ever gets sick! If they did, they'd notice waiting lists have increased 30 percent since they won the election and they might just see patients waiting for beds in ambulances, emergency-room hallways, or even linen closets. Progress is apparently different in B.C. than in the U.S.

But don't you worry. The government is making sure you won't get sick because "it will act now to increase by 20 percent the proportion of British Columbians who eat the recommended daily level of fruit and vegetables."

This is radical stuff, by golly. In my country, former president George Bush senior once told everyone that he refused to eat broccoli, and now we have Gordon Campbell telling voters they have to chow down things they don't like.

I think that's probably why Campbell recruited that Olympic wrestler Daniel Igali to run for the Liberals: to make people eat their broccoli!

If Igali put me in a full-nelson hold, I guess I'd eat my broccoli too. But then I wouldn't think B.C. is the best place on earth anymore. *

Bill Tieleman is president of West Star Communications and a regular political commentator on CBC Radio's Early Edition. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net.

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