Opinion

EDITORIAL: Shifting concerns

Are the right-of-centre governing parties in Ottawa and Victoria misreading the evolution of what they believe is their base of voter support?

The long-accepted line of thinking was those who elected the Conservatives federally and the B.C. Liberals provincially believe in fiscal responsibility. They also believe in less government and the power of the free enterprise system.

However, we believe the priorities of these people, a different generation than the days of Brian Mulroney or W.A.C. Bennett, have shifted a bit. While the tenets of conservatism listed above remain, this block of voters is now much more complex.

You can be a champion for the environment and a conservative. You can support public health care and education systems and still vote for Conservative and B.C. Liberal candidates.

Regardless of one's political persuasion, all can likely agree we need government to marshal and protect three core areas of responsibility: health care, education and public safety.

Thing is, the Conservatives and B.C. Liberals are not only falling down in regards to these three core responsibilities, they are underestimating the evolving sensitivities of their voter base.

The local school board has to close schools. We get reports every week about seemingly ridiculous wait times at the new Oceanside Health Centre. Meanwhile, cuts are also made in food safety monitoring, conservation officer coverage, lighthouses — public safety concerns are also getting short shrift.

Responses to those who voice these concerns, especially from the B.C. Liberals, is heavy-handed and arrogant. We are tightening our belts in Victoria, you do the same, is what MLA Michelle Stilwell and the rest of the B.C. Liberals are saying.

While the NDP alternative in B.C. is not appealing to those who voted B.C. Liberal, Premier Christy Clark, Stilwell and others need to do a better job taking care of their core responsibilities and respect the changing values of their core constituency.

The B.C. Liberals were elected on promises of an improved economy and job creation. We have seen scant evidence of either in Parksville Qualicum Beach. Add to that an erosion of education and health care services, and the report card for this government after one year shows a barely-passing grade.

— Editorial by John Harding

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