Martyn Brown: Is your blood boiling at Andy “CAPP” Wilkinson’s partisan billboards?

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      If you live in Metro Vancouver or virtually anywhere in British Columbia, and your blood is not already boiling over today’s price gouging and Con games on gas prices, watch this CBC report.

      B.C. Liberal liar—err, “leader”—Andy “CAPP” Wilkinson is at it again, blaming the premier for today’s pump pains.

      Now Wilkinson’s “Fiberals” are using taxpayers’ money from their legislative caucus funding to put up partisan and dishonest billboards around Metro Vancouver in trying to pin higher gas prices on John Horgan.

      Andrew Weaver is right: it’s an outrage that should be outlawed, as Green party house leader Sonia Furstenau will attempt to impress upon the all-party legislative assembly “management” committee.

      The politicians on that rules-setting and oversight body have done a spectacular job of mismanaging taxpayers’ money over the years, as Speaker Daryl Plecas has highlighted with his reports.

      Have the politicians learned nothing from taxpayers’ fury at those public spending abuses?

      While the Liberals bleat about the alleged misspending by B.C.’s suspended legislative clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on wood splitters, cufflinks, suits, junkets, and assorted trinkets, Wilkinson’s Whiners are spending untold oodles on partisan billboards.

      For all I know, they may be also placing all sorts of publicly funded misleading and partisan ads in regional newspapers and radio stations across B.C. to target John Horgan’s NDP on the gas price issue, the speculator tax, and maybe other politically low-hanging fruit for public anger.

      Talk about scandalous.

      Anyone doing that sort of thing should be sent to jail, I say, if the politicians’ law wasn’t such an ass.

      They should certainly not be legally authorized to score cheap political points with blatantly partisan and other false advertising that stick taxpayers with the bill.

      Hopefully, most taxpayers agree.

      They should be spitting mad at Wilkinson for adding insult to injury in compounding their pump pains with those billboards that are mostly a testament to why his unprincipled Liberals-in-name-only are unfit for government.

      I am confident that most taxpayers are smart enough to know that the 35 to 40 cent per litre hike in gas prices they’ve suffered over the last couple of months can’t be pinned on the added two pennies a litre the NDP added to gas prices in carbon tax.

      The second penny a litre in carbon tax added by the NDP only took effect on April 1, more than a month after that price shock started.

      Lest we forget, Wilkinson’s Whiners also voted to increase the carbon tax from $30 a tonne to $50 a tonne—just like the NDP—in trying to curry favour with the Greens to save their own government’s sorry ass with their risible “clone speech”, less than 23 months ago.

      The Liberals also vowed to impose those annual penny-a-litre carbon tax increases, starting this year, to meet the federal government’s mandated requirements for 2022.

      Now, they have the audacity to point their greasy fingers at John Horgan for his supposed “tax hikes”? 

      A year ago, Wilkinson said his “task” as the then-new B.C. Liberal “leader” was to make the NDP’s “skin crawl”. 

      I now have the answer to the question I posed in February 2018 to Straight readers: "Is your skin crawling yet?"

      Indeed, it is.

      Wilkinson’s party is today about as attractive as Jorah Mormont’s “greyscale” in the Game of Thrones—and probably twice as painful to treat.

      Video: Watch this memorable scene from Game of Thrones.

      It is unbelievable, really, listening to Wilkinson arguing for some unspecified “cap” on gas prices.

      Since when did his “free market” Liberals become such fans of legislated price controls, anyway?

      It’s the ultimate socialist “solution” and is as dishonest as these spring days are long, especially coming from him and his party.

      Equally absurd is the Liberals’ call for Horgan to cut the fuel tax rates that they imposed and raised in the first place.

      Hypocrisy, thy name is Andy “CAPP” Wilkinson, the record shows.

      Say anything for votes, is now their motto, desperate to escape their own sorry past and their ongoing opposition to almost all of the Horgan government’s initiatives to save B.C. families thousands of dollars each year. [See related stories.]

      Better yet, use taxpayers’ money to do it, with political attacks on the NDP for standing in the way of the federal government’s Trans Mountain pipeline project, as if it would be the cure to end all ills for B.C. motorists. 

      Blame Horgan, the Liberals are really saying, for standing up for B.C. in trying to protect coastal communities, our precious marine ecosystem, the last 75 remaining resident orcas in the Salish Sea, our multibillion-dollar tourism economy, and Indigenous people’s constitutional rights and title, from that dirty crude outflow to tidewater. 

      The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves.

      This billboard was put up near the Peace Arch border crossing.

      If anything, they should be posting billboards paid for from party coffers to apologize for their failure and incompetence in protecting British Columbians’ interests—including motorists’ interests in being insulated from gas gouging.

      Then again, like the NDP and Greens, the Liberals are now getting millions of dollars from taxpayers in new public subsidies that the politicians all hypocritically voted to give themselves as part of the GreeNDP’s otherwise welcome and long overdue campaign finance reforms.

      Sadly, the NDP has also used taxpayer-provided caucus funds to pay for radio spots that are tantamount to political attack ads aimed at blaming the B.C. Liberals for their policy failings in government.

      This from the party whose 2017 election platform promised to “start by ending waste on…partisan government ads. We’ll work with the auditor general to set strong standards for advertising spending.”

      Horgan had vowed to outlaw partisan advertising in government, after B.C.’s auditor general issued a damning update in 2014 to that office’s 1996 report that first slammed the practice when Horgan was still a hired hand in Mike Harcourt’s NDP government.

      Why hasn’t he acted to legislatively prevent such egregious misuses of taxpayers’ hard-earned money? 

      At what point, I wonder, did the rules on the allowable uses of caucus funds get so loosey-goosey to as even allow for such flagrantly partisan expenditures?

      Hell, back in the late 1980s when I was the then-Social Credit government caucus research director, the legislative comptroller would never have tolerated such use of caucus funds.

      Even featuring the party name too prominently in MLA mailers and such was frowned upon. And purely partisan attack ads of the sort now being paid for with taxpayers’ money were verboten.

      The rules gradually got more “flexible” over the decades, to the point we see today, where virtually anything goes. 

      The parties are free to fire away as they please, using their caucus funding to pay for it, for purely partisan advantage.

      Over to you, John Horgan. Stop it. Now.

      Listen to your alliance colleagues in the Green party. Do what you promised.

      And while you’re at it, direct your party—and likewise challenge the Liberals—to repay any and all public funds that were misdirected for partisan ads since the last election, pending a review by the auditor general to determine what fits that description.

      Now that would be something all taxpayers could really cheer.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at