It will be interesting to see if Island issues hit the radar of the the B.C. government caucus when it meets in Parksville Qualicum Beach this week.
Politics being politics, it must be difficult for MLAs Michelle Stilwell and Don McRae to get Premier Christy Clark and their other B.C. Liberal colleagues to pay much attention to Island concerns. There are 14 MLAs based on Vancouver Island and only those two are part of the governing party.
The premier and cabinet members like Stilwell will always talk a good game about the Liberals being responsible for, and interested in, the entirety of the province. History and political logic (is that an oxymoron?) suggest a governing party is more keen to take care of the regions that have shown their support at the ballot box.
The caucus will meet at Tigh-Na-Mara on Wednesday and the premier is the keynote speaker at a breakfast Thursday morning at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. When asked to describe what happens at these caucus meetings, a government communications staffer said “general planning.”
It makes sense to applaud Stilwell for getting the caucus meetings here, but not really for the money all these MLAs, their staff and media will bring into town. While Tigh-Na-Mara, the PCCC and other firms here will be happy for the money, we don’t get all that excited about it for two reasons: it’s our money (tax dollars) they are spending; and there are ball and hockey tournaments that bring in the same amount of money every weekend here, dollars that are not from our pockets.
That stated, there could be residual positive effects to having the caucus meetings here. MLAs who haven’t been here often are going to enjoy warm and sunny weather at a world-class resort on beaches (Rathtrevor, Parksville, Qualicum) that have no rival in the country. The MLAs and premier may begin to understand why it’s ridiculous to exclude this region from funding through the Resort Municipality Initiative.
The MLAs and the premier might get a better idea why it’s vitally important to make B.C. Ferries more affordable. The MLAs and the premier might get a better understanding why they must do a better job, and provide more money, related to protecting our coast from any increased tanker traffic. They might all understand why it’s important to support, with tax dollars, the VIHA-mandated expansion of our water system.
For the possibility these issues will get more than empty talk from the premier, cabinet and caucus, we owe our MLA some gratitude.
— Editorial by John Harding