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So it’s municipal election day in British Columbia, the day we get to vote for mayors, city councillors, and school board trustees. And given that I know jack squat about Surrey politics, I decided I should read the candidate statements before I headed off to the polls. First of all, there about about eleventy billion people running for council, so it took me ages to get through the statements. Secondly, it’s pretty challenging to figure out what everyone is really about from these short statements, especially when so many people, just spew off platitudes. Of course everyone wants to make the city a safer place with good schools, nice parks, better roads, better transit, businesses that succeed, and unicorns covered in pixie dust. But how, exactly, they are going to do that is never mentioned. Is it so much to ask to see some concrete ideas?
What’s particularly galling are the candidates who are making claims they will provide all sorts of things – new stadiums, new schools, new hospitals, more Skytrain, better pay for municipal employees, more teachers in schools, etc., etc. AND no increases in taxes. I mean, seriously, do these individuals have no idea how a government works? Governments get money from taxes. Buying things costs money. It’s not rocket science, people.
And finally, what’s the deal with political parties calling themselves “non-partisan”? Our good friend Wikipedia tells us:
In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression “partisan politics” usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant, support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
Presumably these so-called non-partisan parties are trying to distance themselves from the of “fervent, sometimes militant,” connotation of the word, but technically they are saying that they are a political party that is not a political party. Am I the one one who finds this ridiculous?
Hey, remember a million zillion years ago when I was working on a series of postings about BC Premiers, posting about one premier each Sunday? Yeah, apparently neither did I. But with the convergence of needing to come up with a new blog posting topic every day this month AND the big news of Gordon Campbell quitting this week1, I thought it was high time to resurrect, yet again, this series that I seem to keep letting fall off my plate. I only have four premiers left (until the BC So-Called Liberals pick a replacement for Gordo), so surely I can keep this up for the next four Sundays, right?
OK, so when we last left off in our series, Premier Mike Harcourt had resigned the position. Enter Glen Clark, the 30th Premier of the Province of British Columbia.
|Name||Glen David Clark|
|Born:||November 22, 1957 in Nanaimo, BC2|
|Held Office:||February 22, 1996 – August 25, 1999|
- Glen Clark is a controversial guy, as evidenced by the fact that his Wikipedia page is a mess of “this page’s neutrality is disputed” and “you need actual sources to back up this shit, yo.” And since I’m far too lazy to do any real research, take anything I write here with a giant grain of sodium chloride.
- 1986: elected to the BC Legislature
- served as Finance Minister under Premier Mike Harcourt and when Harcourt resigned in 1996, Clark was elected by the NDP to succeed him
- 1996: Clark won an NDP majority government, did stuff like keeping tuitions fees frozen and something about Vancouver Island and Skytrain
- And since BC politics loves scandals, there were two “scandals” during Clark’s reign:
- The “Fast Ferries” – some new, faster ferries were built for BC ferries, but they cost way more than expected, took longer than they were supposed to and never quite went as fast as they were supposed to3.
- “Casinogate” – Glen Clark’s house and officer were searched by the RCMP in 1999 in relation to accusations that Clark had accepted $10,000 worth of renos in exchange for granting a casino license. He was charged with “breach of trust,” a criminal offence, but in the end was not found guilty. Essentially, the judge said that he’d done something stupid, but not done anything criminal.
- Clark resigned as premier in 1999 in light of the “Casinogate” scandal.
- currently works as an “Executive Vice President” for the Jim Pattison Group and president of The News Group North America.”
In summary, Glen Clark did some stuff and then people got mad at him and then he quit.
- Wikipedia, the reference of champions
- for his mug shot when he got arrested for driving drunk in Hawaii, click here [↩]
- Nanaimo a.k.a., “Surrey by the Sea,” and the home of the deliciousness that is the Nanaimo Bar [↩]
- if memory serves, they went fast, but then it took a long time to dock them because they didn’t quite match up with the docks correctly, so after all the time and money spent on the new ferries, your ferry trip wasn’t any shorter than it was with the old ferries [↩]
Premier of the Province of British Columbia.
|Name||Michael Franklin Harcourt|
|Born:||January 6, 1943 in Edmonton, AB|
|Held Office:||Nov 5, 1991 to Feb 22, 1996|
- earned B.A. and Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia (UBC)
- 1973-1980: served as Vancouver alderman
- 1980-1986: served as mayor Vancouver
- major focus of his term as mayor was prep for Expo ’86
- 1986: elected to BC provincial legislature
- 1987: became the leader of NDP, and thus, the Leader of the Official Opposition
- 1991: became premier by defeating then-Premier Rita Johnson in the provincial election
- Feb 1996: resigned due to the “Bingogate” scandal (where an NDP party member used money raised for charity to fund the NDP. Though Harcourt wasn’t himself involved, he did the captain going done with the ship thing)
- Nov 2002: suffered a spinal cord injury in a near-fatal accident at his cottage. Made a remarkable recovery.
- Dec 2003: appointed special adviser on cities to then-Prime Minister Paul Martin
- Nov 2007: awarded an Honourary Doctorate from UBC
- has published three books:
- A Measure of Defiance (1996)
- Plan B: One Man’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph (2003)
- City Making in Paradise (2007)
- Feb 2009: Appointed Associate Director of the UBC Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability,
In summary, in my extensive research1, I was not able to any reference to anything that he actually did as Premier. I’m gathering, based on the stuff he’s doing now, that he did something good for cities and sustainability, but I’ll be damned if I can find any information on what he actually did2
The 28th Premier of the Province of British Columbia and the first female one ever!
|insert pic||Name||Rita Margaret Johnston|
|Born:||April 22, 1935 in Melville, Saskatchewan|
|Held Office:||April 2, 1991 – November 5, 1991|
- the first – and so far, only – female premier of BC
- before getting into politics – and I’m not making this up – she ran a Surrey trailer park. Actually, according to Wikipedia she ran a “successful trailer park.” I’m curious as to what criteria are used to judge whether or not a trailer park is “successful”
- 1969: elected to Surrey city council where she served under then-mayor (and future premier) Bill Vander Zalm
- 1975: lost election for Surrey mayorship by fewer than 100 votes
- 1983: elected as the MLA for Surrey
- 1986: served in cabinet, yet again under the Zalm, in the following positions:
- 1986: Minister of Municipal Affairs
- 1986-88: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Transit
- 1987-88: Minister of State for the Kootenay Region
- 1988-89: Minister of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture
- 1989-91: Minister of Transportation and Highways
- 1990: appointed deputy premier by the Vander Slam
- April 2, 1991: upon Billy VZ‘s resignation, she was named acting leader of the SoCreds – and thus acting premier of BC, making her not only the first female premier in BC history, but the first *Canadian* premier. In 1991. Seriously.
- July 1991: elected leader of SoCred at the party convention, beating Grace McCarthy, who was expected to win
- Oct 1991: the SoCreds lost the election to the NDP and Johnston lost her own seat; this loss was attributed to Vander Zalm‘s scandals and the split within the party due to the leadership race (with insufficient time to repair this between the party convention in July and the provincial election in October)
- Jan 1992: she resigned as party leader on my birthday in 1992, retired from politics, keeps a low profile
In summary, I can’t believe there had never been a female premier in Canada before 1991!
|Name||Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie “Bill” Vander Zalm|
|Born:||May 29, 1934 in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands|
|Held Office:||August 6, 1986 – April 2, 1991|
- born in the Netherlands, immigrated to Canada after WWII
- dropped out of high school and sold tulip bulbs (what else is a guy from the Netherlands going to do, really?)
- started a garden business, invested in real estate
- 1965: elected alderman in Surrey
- 1968: lost a bid for a seat as a federal MP, in which he ran as a Liberal
- 1969-1975: mayor of Surrey. Claim to fame: cracking down on “welfare deadbeats” (apparently welfare was handled municipally at the time – who knew?)
- 1972: lost a leadership bid for provincial Liberal Party
- 1974: joined the SoCreds
- 1975: elected as a provincial MLA
- 1975-1978: served as the Minister of Human Resources under Bill Bennett, “continued his crusade against welfare fraud” – became famous for his comment: “If people are truly in need, they can expect and will be treated fairly and compassionately. If people are elderly we will treat them with respect and when in need reward them for their lifelong contributions. If people are handicapped they will be treated generously, hopefully even more so than in the past. But if someone is able to work and refuses to do so, they had best pick up a shovel or I’ll give them a shovel.” [emphasis mine]
- sued the Victoria Daily Times for libel after they published a political cartoon of him as a “grinning sadist deliberately snapping the wings off five helpless flies;” he initially won, but that decision was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal
- 1978-1981: Minister of Municipal Affairs
- 1981-1983: Minister of Education
- 1984: bought Fantasy Garden World (a theme park)
- 1984: lost his bid to be the mayor of Vancouver, in which he ran as a Non-Partisan Association1 candidate
- 1986: after Bennett announced his retirement, Vander Zalm won his bid for the leadership of the SoCreds, beating out 11 other candidates; was sworn in as premier and then handily won a majority in the election the next month
- Vander Zalm made his cabinet up of people who “languished” as back benchers in the government under Bennett. Under Bennett, the “urban fiscal conservatives” had held the reins of the party, but Vander Zalm was from the other half of the party – the social conservatives (see: obsession with welfare “fraud” above). Case in point – Vander Zalm tried to pull provincial funding for abortions that were “not medically necessary,” but he was forced to retract this due to public uproar.
- he was involved in his fair share of scandals, including:
- the appointment of his buddy David Poole as his “Principal Secretary,” which pissed people off as Poole became “allegedly become the second most powerful person in the province despite never having been elected”
- possible” influence peddling” in the sale of the Expo 86 site
- the sale of Fantasy Garden World – Vander Zalm bought FGW for $1.7 million in 1984 and sold it for $16 million in 1991. The buyer was given the VIP treatment by the Lieutenant-Governor before the sale and the woman who brokered the deal, Faye Leung, “thought that Vander Zalm was a “bad man” since the day she first met him and secretly recorded conversations she had with him, and was happily willing to speak to the media and provide copies of her audio tapes.” He was found to have been in conflict of interest for mixing personal business with his public office in this sale (though the BC Supreme Court found him not guilty of criminal breach of trust), and he resigned in 1991.
- 1999 – lost his bid in a by-election for the South Delta seat, in which he ran as a member of the Reform Party of BC2
- 2009 – after a 10 year hiatus from the limelight, Vander Zalm burst back on the scene in opposition to the BC So-Called Liberals introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax (H.S.T.), which, I might add, they had explicitly said they *wouldn’t* do during the election3. Vander Zalm ultimately led a campaign for a referendum on the HST and on June 10, 2010 delivered a petition to the government in the form of “85 boxes containing containing 705,643 signatures from voters in every riding across the province.” I believe that the government is now in the process of verifying those signatures.
In summary, Fantasy Garden World. The End.
- Wikipedia, the reference of champions
- Fantasy Garden site goes up for sale, April 10, 2007
- for the record, I would like to point out that having a party called the “Non-Partisan Association” makes absolutely no sense. Partisan means “an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, esp. a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance” (dictionary.com), so NPA means the party in which no one supports the party. Wha?? [↩]
- I didn’t even *know* there was a Reform Party of BC! [↩]
- I know, the BC So-Called Liberals breaking an election promise is *so* shocking. [↩]
|Name||William (a.k.a. Bill) Richards Bennett|
|Born:||August 18, 1932 – or possible 14th, depending on if you believe Wikipedia or the CBC Digital Archives - in Kelowna, BC|
|Party:||Social Credit Party|
|Held Office:||December 22, 1975 – August 6, 1986|
- Bill is the son of Wacky. So it’s sort of the like the George Bush Sr. and Jr. thing except, as far as I know, the Bennett’s never invaded any other countries. As far as I know.
- was a businessman and real estate investor
- Sept 1973: elected as the MLA for the South Okanagan riding
- Nov 1973: elected as leader of the SoCreds
- 1975: became premier when the SoCreds knocked the NDP out of power (Bennett had refused to engage in a TV debate with Barrett during this election); re-elected in 1979 and 1983.
- he “slashed social services and gutted labour laws”, and ran TV ads that called people who disagreed with him “Bad British Columbians.” (Wikipedia)
- he spent a shit-ton of money, however, building the Coquihalla highway and bringing Expo ’86 to Vancouver
- 1996: convicted of insider trader.
- 2007: received the Order of BC.
In summary, being convicted of insider trading does not preclude one from being awarded the Order of BC. You know, in case you were planning on doing both of those things.
Image credits: There don’t appear to be any freely available photos of BB anywhere on the world wide interwebs! b00-urns!
Look at me, actually posting about a BC premier on a Sunday. Someone better check the temperature in Hades!
|Born:||October 2, 19301 in Vancouver, BC|
|Party:||New Democratic Party (NDP)|
|Held Office:||September 15, 1972 to December 22, 1975|
- first NDP premier of BC
- first and only Jewish premier in BC history
- Oct 6, 1983: Barrett holds the distinction of causing the “first incident in the legislature history where security staff had to intervene and remove a member from chamber” when he was “forcibly removed from Chamber by Legislature Serjeant-at-Arms for failing to abide by the Speaker’s ruling” (Wikipedia).
- educated in philosophy at Seattle University and social work at St Louis University, then returned to Canada in 1957
- Barrett was a social worker who worked in federal prison, but was fired for “launching a union drive and complaining publicly about prison conditions” (CBC Archives)
- 1960: first elected to BC legislation (MLA for Dewdney) as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF; predecessor to the NDP). At the time, civil servants were banned from running for the legislature and so he had to fight to be allowed to run, since he was a civil servant
- re-elected in 1963, 1966 and 1969
- he became the leader of the NDP in 1969, after first losing the leadership race to Tom Berger, who went on to lose an election that the NDP were expected to win, so he (Berger) resigned, and Barret was quickly recruited as the new leader
- 1972: won the first NDP government – a majority, no less – replacing the long-governing SoCreds. And here’s a clip from the CBC archives on this historic election win. And here’s a clip of the public’s reaction to that election (also from the CBC Archives)
- Barrett’s NDP government starting using modern accounting practices and uncovered huge liabilities that Wacky Bennett’s government had kept off the books with the accounting practices it was using; Barrett’s government was criticized for taking the the government from a surplus to a deficit (which, of course, Barrett’s government argued was at least in part because Bennett’s government wasn’t revealing all its liabilities)
- major changes introduced by Barrett’s government:
- establishment of the Labour Relations Board
- expansion of the public sector
- introduction of a mineral royalties tax
- introduction of question period and availability of transcripts of what happened in the legislature (hooray for transparency!)
- creation of the Agricultural Land Reserve (to protect BC farm land; still in effect today)
- formation of the Insurance Corporation of BC (the car insurance we still use in BC to this day)
- banned spanking in schools
- “The NDP passed a new law on average every three days while in power.” (Wikipedia). This scared the righties, so a bunch of right-leaning Liberals and Conservatives joined the SoCreds
- 1975: Barrett loses a snap election to the SoCreds, who are now lead by Wacky’s son Bill, who campaigned by saying the NDP mishandled finances. Barrett lost his own seat (Coquitlam) in this election, but returned to the legislature in a by-election for a different seat (Vancouver East) the next year. He continued to lead the NDP.
- 1983: resigned from provincial politics in May
- 1984: became a radio talk show host in Vancouver
- 1988: elected to the federal government as the Member of Parliament in the riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
- 1989: narrowly missed his bid for leader of the federal NDP, with Audrey McLaughlin winning the race on the fourth ballot. He had focused his campaign on the issue of western alienation, which didn’t sit well with Quebec.
- “Barret opposed the 1987 Meech Lake Accord, but reluctantly endorsed the 1992 Charlottetown Accord to comply with party policy” (Wikipedia).
- 1993: lost his federal seat to Reform Party candidate, Keith Martin
- he founded the Tommy Douglas Research Institute in response to the growing number of right wing think tanks
- 2005: made an Officer of the Order of Canada
- though he is retired from politics, he lectures on current affairs and pops up in the news once in awhile (e.g., opposing the BC government’s restructuring of BC Hydro in 2003, opposing the new harmonized sales tax (HST) in 2010)
In summary, Premier Barrett was the first NDP premier of BC and he did a lot of stuff during his time in office. Also, he was the meat sandwiched between the Bennett father-son duo of premiers. And the names Barrett and Bennett are way to similar for my liking.
Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!
- Wikipedia, the reference of champions
- CBC Archives
- The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Tommy Douglas Research Institute
“The finest sound in the land is the ringing of cash registers.”
W.A.C. Bennett and his wife, Mary, beside HRH Princess Margaret.
|Name||William Andrew Cecil Bennett (a.k.a., Wacky Bennett)|
|Born:||September 6, 1900 in Hastings, NB|
|Died:||February 23, 1979 in Kelowna, BC1|
|Party:||BC Conservative from 1937-1951 and Social Credit from 1951-1978.|
|Held Office:||August 1, 1952 – September 15, 1972|
- serving for 20 years and 1.5 months, Wacky stands as the longest serving premier in BC history
- related to:
- Canadian Prime Minister Richard Bedford Bennett (Wacky’s dad and P.M. R.B.B. were third cousins)
- BC Premier Bill Bennett (Wacky was Bill’s dad)
- quit school in grade 9 to take a job in a hardware store during WWI (though he would later pursue correspondence courses as an adult)
- moved with his family from New Brunswick to Alberta
- 1927: opened his own hardware store with a partner, but sold his interest in it just before the stock market crash of 1929, moved to Kelowna and opened another hardware store
- 1937: unsuccessful run for the nomination for BC Conservatives in the South Okanagan
- 1941: successful run for not just the nomination, but the seat in the South Okanagan, as a member of the Conservative party
- 1945: re-elected as the MLA for South Okanagan as part of the Liberal-Conservative coaltion
- 1948: vacated MLA seat to run federally for Progressive Conservatives in the Yale riding by-election, but he lost
- 1949: regained his MLA seat in the South Okanagan
- 1951: ran for, by failed to win, the leadership of the BC Conservative party, so he quit the party and sat as an independent. Then he became a member of the Social Credit (or So-Cred) party
- 1952: the provincial election used an “alternative vote” system (i.e., instead of the traditional “first past the post” system, voter ranked their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. choices2 which, apparently, the ruling Lib-Cons coalition thought would keep down the up-and-coming Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF – which would later become the New Democratic Party [NDP]). Instead and unexpectedly, it resulted in the So-Creds winning the most seats in the election! And the So-Creds didn’t even have a leader! The So-Creds, who had won 19 or 48 seats convinced an independent MLA to join them, giving them 20 or 48, which was apparently enough to run a minority government.
- July 15, 1952: Bennett won the party leadership 10-9, becoming premier-elect
- 1953: Bennett engineered the defeat of his own minority government to force an election, in which he won a majority. Then he axed the alternative vote system (you know, the one that got him the job in the first place) and went back to first-past-the-post
- now, I’ve heard of the So-Cred party3, but I must admit that I didn’t actually know what “social credit” was. According to the almighty Wikipedia:
“Assuming the only safe place for power is in many hands, Social Credit is a distributive philosophy, and its policy is to disperse power to individuals. Social Credit philosophy is best summed by Douglas when he said, “Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic.”
According to Douglas, the true purpose of production is consumption, and production must serve the genuine, freely expressed interests of consumers. Each citizen is to have a beneficial, not direct, inheritance in the communal capital conferred by complete and dynamic access to the fruits of industry assured by the National Dividend and Compensated Price. Consumers, fully provided with adequate purchasing power, will establish the policy of production through exercise of their monetary vote. In this view, the term economic democracy does not mean worker control of industry. Removing the policy of production from banking institutions, government, and industry, Social Credit envisages an “aristocracy of producers, serving and accredited by a democracy of consumers.”
- although the So-Cred party was intended to promote social credit theory, it can’t be implemented at the provincial level, so Bennett made the party “a mix of populism and conservatism” and focused the party on keeping out the CCF
- Bennett also actively campaigned for the federal So-Cred Party (which I never even knew existed), presumably because social credit theory is more in the jurisdiction of the feds
- 1972: his government was defeated by the NDPs, and he served as the Leaders of the Opposition until he resigned his seat in June 1973
- 1979: made an Officer of the Order of Canada
- things named after him:
- the W.A.C. Bennett Dam near Hudson’s Hope,
- the library at the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser University
In summary, given that he was Premier for more than 20 years and was known as “Wacky”, I thought there would be more information on this guy.
Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. Copyright held by the BC Provincial Archives. But they said anyone can use for anything, as long as they get their props.
- I think. Wikipedia doesn’t actually say where he died, but does say he was interred in Kelowna [↩]
- this is interesting, as our last two BC provincial elections have included referenda on changing to a single transferable vote system instead of first-past-the-post. I had no idea that we’d used anything like it in the past! [↩]
- it was pretty much dead by the time I moved to BC in 2000 [↩]
So, here I am blogging about yet another boring Premier of the Province of British Columbia. But never fear, the next guy on the list is W.A.C. Bennett! Ole’ Wacky himself! So just get through this one and next week I’ll have something less yawn-inducing for you to read about.
|Name||Byron Ingemar Johnson|
|Born:||December 10, 1890 in Victoria, BC|
|Died:||January 12, 1964 in Victoria, BC|
|Party:||coaltion of the Conservatives and the Liberals|
|Held Office:||December 29, 1947 – August 1, 1952|
- born Björn Ingemar “Bjossi” Jönsson
- known as “Boss,” which apparently was just coincidentally to him being the boss of the province – it was an anglicization of “Bjossi,” which is a diminutive of Björn
- served in WWI
- was a Mason
- 1933: elected as a Liberal MLA in Victoria City
- 1937: lost his seat, returned to the building supply business he shared with his brother (or, he quit in 1934, returned to politics in 1937 but wasn’t elected (not sure how you “return” to politics if you aren’t elected), depending on which source you believe)
- WWII: put in charge of building Royal Canadian Air Force facilities in BC
- 1945: elected as an MLA in New Westminster, served as a cabinet minister in the Liberal-Conservative coalition government under Hart
- 1947: when Hart resigned, Johnson took over as leader and thus became the premier
- as premier he did a bunch of stuff (e.g., introduced compulsory health care and a 3% sales tax to pay for it, appointing the first female speaker in the British Commonwealth, Nancy Hodges)
- 1949: stayed premier as the Liberal-Conservative coalition won the largest popular vote in BC history
- 1951: the Conservatives pull out of the coalition, collapsing Johnson’s government
- 1952: defeated by the Social Credit Party (the predecessor to the current day BC So-Called Liberal Party) (and lost his own seat to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the predecessor party to the New Democratic Party (NDP)). This marked the end of the Liberal-Conservative coalition and the beginning of the two-party system we have to this day
In summary, we can thank Boss Johnson for our provincial health care, but blame him for two-party system.
Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!
So I was driving home from work yesterday and as I was driving by the local cemetery, as one does who lives in location in which a cemetery is located between their home and office, and I noticed a new sign on their lawn:
Here’s a close up of the sign:
So, yeah, just a heads up – if you are planning to die in BC in the next little while, you might want to do it in the next 21 days in order to avoid the 7% hike in taxes that will occur once the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) kicks in on July 1.
Or, you know, you can just purchase all your funeral needs in Washington state, where they will exempting BC residents from sales tax after July 1!