Subsidies and the whacky world of BC politics

Yesterday, we described how Energy Minister Richard Neufeld and his BC Liberal colleagues attacked NDP small business critic Gregor Robertson, the MLA from Vancouver-Fairview, for questioning the over $242.5 million in subsidies being given to oil and gas companies.  

In the partisan world of BC politics the venomous personal attack should have been expected, especially as no words draw more ire from Energy Minister Richard Neufeld and his BC Liberal colleagues than “subsidies” or “Legacy Fund.” These are the words that dare not be spoken, particularly when used in connection with their energy schemes.  
Yet, the BC Liberals attacks against critics of their pro-fossil fuel energy schemes border on the absurd.

BC Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan criticized Mr. Robertson calling him “clueless.” Twisting political conventions upside down Mr. Sultan went on to say, “Robertson’s comments are just the latest in a series of disturbing messages that show the NDP are moving further to the political left and aren’t interested in developing resources that create jobs and pay for government services.”

When was it considered “leftist” to question government spending or promote fiscal conservatism?

Continuing the “NDP-supported-it-back-in-1998 -so-you-are-hypocritical-to-criticize-it-now line of argument” that we debunked yesterday Mr. Sultan ratcheted up the fury in an email newsletter to BC Liberal supporters writing, “It’s more than a little ironic Robertson would criticize the royalty program considering that initiative was supported by former NDP Premier Dan Miller…”

What a crazy world we live in.

I guess in the era of George Bush any right-wing, pro-business position is considered conservative, and those that want to “conserve” tax payer money or the land or the future of the planet are labeled as lefties.
And wouldn’t a truly conservative government initiate a Legacy Fund which would set aside for the future a portion of the energy revenues resulting from the boom in oil and gas in BC.

Despite their reputation as fiscal conservatives, the BC Liberals have chosen to allocate all the spiking oil and gas revenues for current spending. This is short-sighted.

Other jurisdictions have recognized the finite nature of fossil fuel revenues and have set aside some of them for the future or for economic diversification. Alberta, Alaska, Norway, and even Chad are either currently building or have at one time built a reserve fund from oil and gas revenues.

Since 1976, Alaska has placed 25% of oil and gas revenues into its Permanent Fund, which is valued at over US$27 billion. Alberta’s fund has been valued at $12 billion.

Norway’s State Petroleum Fund stands at over $100 billion.
But our government continues to spend the revenue for current operations. This is not conservative. In fact, it is fiscally irresponsible, exactly the label the BC Liberals through at their opposition, regardless of the facts.

Just another episode in the whacky world of BC politics.

I guess it could get more absurd, perhaps the next target for the lefty label will be the Taxpayers Association.

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