Premier Christy Clark has less than 17 months in office before the next provincial election. That's just one of the reasons why 2016 will be especially important for her.
To offer the premier some guidance for the coming year, I came up with five New Year's resolutions.
1. Stop claiming that liquefied-natural gas is a bridge fuel to a cleaner future.
I can't count the number of times that the premier and her minister of natural gas development, Rich Coleman, have claimed that LNG is good for the environment because it will displace dirty coal as an energy source.
This is a bunch of bunkum.
Knowledgeable analysts, such as former CIBC World Markets chief economist Jeff Rubin and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist Marc Lee, have highlighted the magnitude of fugitive greenhouse-gas emissions from fracked shale gas. For the most part, fracked gas is what would be cooled into a liquefied form for export.
Earlier this year, Rubin bluntly stated that it's debatable whether this energy source even has a lighter carbon footprint than coal after it's shipped to Asia. The Pembina Institute has also reported that B.C.'s LNG strategy won't help address climate change.
Every time the premier claims that LNG is a bridge fuel to a cleaner future, she comes across as either ignorant or dishonest. Clark would be wise to shelve this rhetoric because it undermines her government's credibility.
2. Put Moira Stilwell in cabinet.
The Vancouver-Langara MLA has been in the penalty box—oops, I meant on the back benches—for far too long.
There's a crisis of confidence in the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which has only been made worse by the recent report by former civil servant Bob Plecas.
It requires someone with sufficient depth and gravitas to reassure the public and repair damaged relations with First Nations organizations.
Stilwell capably oversaw the Ministry of Social Development under Gordon Campbell. And Vancouver remains under-represented in the B.C. Liberal cabinet with only two members.
We get that this premier doesn't like the fact that Stilwell ran against her for leader and that Stilwell later threw her support to cabinet colleague George Abbott. We also understand that the premier has it in for Vancouver after voters in Point Grey defeated her in the last election.
But it's time to bury the hatchet and make competence, not obedience, the grounds for addressing a serious problem that affects thousands of kids across the province.
3. Make postsecondary education a priority.
It's amazing that Clark and her finance minister, Mike de Jong, cut the budget for advanced education while running an $879-million surplus this year. Enough of punishing young people just because they don't vote in the same numbers as seniors. The creative economy requires an educated workforce.
4. Raise the minimum wage.
The Straight reported earlier this year that B.C.'s new $10.45 minimum wage is among the lowest in Canada. Clark has locked it in to the Consumer Price Index, which ensures B.C. will retain that distinction for years to come. She needs to fix this.
5. Read more books.
This is a good resolution for everybody, including a premier whose economic policies sometimes seem rooted in discredited economic theories.