As an activist I’ve had plenty of frustrating experiences with politicians. Their actions have inspired everything from irritation to disappointment and even disbelief. It’s a reality of our political system that I’m learning to deal with, but it still shocks me when all of these feelings are inspired by the same person. Over the past few years Ida Chong’s antics have done just that. She is providing us all with some good entertainment (and making my job easier), but its time for our community to put its foot down and demand more responsible leadership.
This was pretty bad.
In 2007 the Provincial Liberals quietly privatized 23,000 ha of forest land so that their cronies at Western Forest Products (WFP) could aggressively log our coast and start flipping land for development. People from across the province were outraged and demanded that cabinet reverse the mistake. Ida Chong was one of the Island’s two representatives in this cabinet, but she was almost entirely silent on the issue.
This was worse.
The community passed progressive zoning bylaws to protect the former TFL lands that needed a routine ratification from Ida Chong, then the Minister of Community Development. They sat in her office waiting for a signature for months until days after WFP applied for subdivision permits under the old rules. When pressed on this issue, Chong is quick to blame her staff, claiming that they took a long time to “ensure legality and to ensure that proper consultation had taken place.” We’ll never know if the hold up was deliberate, but it is clear that her delay in signing those bylaws was a matter of discretion that she is refusing to take responsibility for.
This one is just ridiculous.
The province continued to ignore the TFL controversy and in early 2010, three years after the deletions, the CRD made a historic commitment to purchase almost 2700 ha of the affected area. The province chipped in for 10% of the cost (less than half of what they were asked for) and Ida Chong quickly showed up on radio talk shows bragging about how she had spent “weeks” working on the file.
After taking criticisms for her behavior Chong attacked the Dogwood Initiative for not trying to meet with her to talk with her about the issue. We sent her a copy of our request for such a meeting that she received in 2009, however; she continues refusing to meet with us and has openly stated that she is not interested in the community’s concerns about the TFL issue.
Corruption, deflection, self congratulation and then openly denying her communications with the public…. this too much, but it gets worse.
This part takes the cake.
Many people continue to send letters to Ida Chong asking for the provincial cabinet to take action on the TFL issue. Her recent response to voters that don’t live in her riding was as follows. “As you are not a resident of Oak Bay – Gordon Head, please work with your own MLA regarding this and any other provincial matters.” Or in others words, you don’t live here so I don’t care what you think.
As the Minister of Healthy Living and Sport she has also been approached by rowing and paddling groups worried that Province Approval of the dangerous Mega Yacht Marina Project would prevent them from safely exercising in a large section of Victoria Harbour. She responded in a letter to the Times Colonist saying that all their concerns should be addressed with the city instead of her.
Plenty of politicians make mistakes, but what can we do with a cabinet minister who openly refuses to listen to the public. She’s not even pretending to care what our community thinks.
If the HST campaign ends in recall votes Ida Chong is one of the first people on the block. Maybe if she knows that her job is on the line she’ll start paying attention to us. Call Ida Chong’s office and let her know that you won’t support her for re-election unless she takes action on the TFL and Mega Yacht Marina issues.