It was a tough growing season for tomatoes this year, but they look great anyway  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Do BC Liberals retake the Courtenay-Comox riding from Greens and NDP?

Oct 21, 2020 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

Polling stations for the Oct. 24 BC provincial election in fewer than 100 hours. Election Day is officially this Saturday, but nearly half of the 2017 vote total have already been cast.

Some 800,000 people have voted early — when they were less likely to have social distancing problems — or by mail, which is by far the easiest and most convenient method to vote.

So it’s late, but never too late for a few observations.

 

The BC Liberals lost the Courtenay-Comox riding in 2017 because a Conservative candidate siphoned off more than 2,000 votes. Assuming that most of those votes would have gone to the Liberals, they would have won the riding without a whiff of a recount.

The news gets worse for the NDP.

Many loyal NDP voters have grumbled about Premier John Horgan because A) he didn’t kill Site C; B) has embraced LNG; and, C) continues to allow timber companies to mow through old-growth timber.

Based on that, do you really believe the left will split their vote this year more generously between the NDP and the BC Green Party? If so, then the Courtenay-Comox Liberals are probably already chilling their champagne.

 

Would a BC Liberal victory in the Courtenay-Comox riding be a good thing or a bad thing?

That feels like a funny question to ponder because the BC Liberal Party has a terrible and genuinely unlikable leader in Andrew Wilkinson, who wants to turn the clock back on social progress in this province. Remember Social Credit?

Plus, who can forget how the BC Liberals destroyed education and social programs when voters last gave them the keys to the provincial budget? Not many educators voting Liberal lately.

And creating a $10 billion-plus hole in the provincial budget by eliminating the PST for a year would give Awful Andrew the perfect excuse to start chopping again.

On the other hand, if your interest is narrow enough to warrant only a comeuppance for Island Health’s shameful handling of several Comox Valley Hospital and health care issues, then BC Liberal candidate Brennan Day might suit your purposes.

When Decafnation asked the Courtenay-Comox candidates how they would address the many issues surrounding Island Health’s reduction of pathologist services on the North Island, Day was the only one who promised to press for an external, independent review. His response was researched and thoughtful.

Our incumbent MLA, Ronna-Rae Leonard, rightly blamed the previous BC Liberal government for fostering an environment of privatization in health care, a sentiment we whole-heartedly endorse.

But that doesn’t excuse Leonard’s deliberate avoidance of her responsibility to represent her constituents on this issue. For the last three years, she’s done nothing, zippo, to rectify the situation. Doctors have met with her. No action. Citizen groups have lobbied and written to her. Nada.

Leonard professes support for returning full pathology services, but the lack of action during her first term in office undermines her credibility.

In her response to Decafnation, Leonard said, “That’s why we’re hiring more people now.” This is untrue, if she’s referring to general pathologists.

Island Health is trying (unsuccessfully) to hire new anatomical pathologists, but only because the two respected and well-liked pathologists serving this area for decades resigned in protest two months ago. There are no pathologists at the Comox Valley Hospital today. The jobs are open.

And then there’s the Green Party. Sadly, by her own admission, the slow decline of health care services on the North Island hasn’t made it onto the radar of Green candidate Gillian Anderson.

So where does that leave us? Voting is complicated this time. The numbers point to a BC Liberal victory in Courtenay-Comox. But, hey, don’t listen to us, we predicted Trump would lose in 2016.
Were we wrong to raise our eyebrows over this comment?

While discussing how the Comox Valley Regional District might reinvent the Comox Valley Economic Development Society, A Person Who Shall Go Unnamed lamented the time and effort being spent on the topic, and then added, “You know, this is only about a million or so dollars and that’s really just a drop in the bucket of our whole regional budget.”

It’s true, the CVRD annual budget goes north of $130 million, so this person has a point.

But, wait, the regional directors are still discussing $1 million-plus of taxpayer dollars. Imagine what a local non-profit could do with that much money? What could Lush Valley do, or the John Howard Society or a Joint Child Care Committee for the Comox Valley?

Not pocket change for these folks.

Isn’t the enduring question really about what value the whole community enjoys from any public expenditure, no matter how small, and whether our collective social values suggest the money could be put to better use somewhere else?

 

 

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