Insight BC

Insight and Discussion Concerning What’s Important in BC

Month: November 2015

BC Liberals Campaign Promise Report Card 2015

B.C. Jobs Plan, Families First and a so-called Balanced Budget.  Those were the slogans on which the BC Liberals campaigned in the 2013 provincial election.  Now that the BC legislature has adjourned its fall 2015 sitting, and with the next election on the horizon in 2017, it appears to be a good time to evaluate the performance of the government – and the pretenders to the throne of power.

B.C. Jobs Plan

…despite mixed employment indicators… Firm domestic demand prevailed despite employment in the province hitting a slow patch so far this year. Private-sector hiring took a step back in the first eight months of 2015; however, we still expect the labour market to gain traction in 2015, as hiring in health care and social assistance helps to keep employment above year-ago levels. These gains have been insufficient to move the needle downward on the unemployment rate, however. Entrants to the labour force outpaced job growth so far this year despite population growth losing some steam. The net increase in the number of immigrants from abroad fell to the lowest number since records began in 1991 and was led by a sharp decline in the number of non-permanent residents locating to the province.  (RBC Economics | Research September 2015)

To Recap

Private sector lost jobs.  Public sector bloat grew.  More health care and social assistance costs to be funded by taxpayers. Unemployment rate  rises (marginally), to be fair).  Unemployment up 6.4% comparing year over year October 2014 to October 2015.  Source:

Jobs available for emerging work force (supply) not being met by the important full-time, permanent jobs available (demand).

Non-permanent residents locating to BC declines (partially due to the unavailability of jobs)

Let’s look back at the pre-2013 BC Election campaign wherein Christy Clark and her BC Liberals spent immense amounts of taxpayer dollars fearlessly trumpeting the ‘success’ of the BC Jobs Plan.  The results speak for themselves.

Political propaganda at the BC taxpayer expense?  Of course.  Is the once flaunted LNG industry money making and job creation scheme having any impact?  Of course not.

An aside to Christy Clark:  If you are afraid to throw support behind pipeline projects and tankers on the West Coast, just how did you plan to get your LNG to foreign markets other than the US?

Just another example of the blind electorate being led by the blind politicians and bureaucrats?

Grade:  C minus (that could turn into a D very easily if the overall Canadian GNP continues to decline or if there is a catastrophic drop in housing prices in BC that would dry up consumer confidence and spending.

Families First

Peter Lang says he received a letter from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) warning that his son’s privacy rights were breached by Peter speaking out about his son’s case.  Source: October 15, 2015

Grieving parents are being advised by a government ministry that they are not allowed to discuss the horrific tragedy of a child who died while in the care of the province of BC.

Like most BC residents, I am appalled and disgusted with the insensitivity of overpaid, cold-blooded mercenary bureaucrats and politicians who think that the state cannot be faulted for its inappropriate actions in this case.  Rational, normal human beings know that parents are the best resource and loving environment for their children, in the vast preponderance of cases.

What manner of cold-blooded reptilian bureaucracy has the temerity to censure a grief-stricken parent who wishes the facts to be brought forward?  There are literally no words to describe my revulsion for the BC government’s actions in this horrific case.

There is little sense in discussing any of the other multitudinous failures of the BC government concerning Families First.

Grade: F

Balanced Budget

CURRENT STATE Finance Minister Michael de Jong’s description that B.C.’s budget is “balanced on a knife edge,” is wholly accurate. Last year’s surplus came in at less than 1 % of the total budget. If government had not kept spending in check, B.C. could have easily dipped into the red. The year-end statements for 2013-14 showed revenue was several hundred million dollars less than expected, meaning budgeted spending had to be cut as well.

LOWEST INCOME TAXES IN THE COUNTRY: NO LONGER Like any business, governments are usually careful to make sure their taxation schemes are competitive with neighbouring jurisdictions. Virtually every government, at every level, compares themselves to their peers to ensure they are not driving out taxpayers with unnecessary higher rates. The B.C. government is no different. Buried in the back of every provincial budget document is Table A3, comparing six tax scenarios for families, individuals and seniors in every province in Canada. Not too long ago, these charts showed B.C. had the lowest personal income taxes in the country. Unfortunately for taxpayers, that is no longer true. In four of the six scenarios listed in the budget document, B.C. now trails other provinces.  Source:  Canadian Taxpayers Association 2015

BC’s economy is indeed ‘balanced on a knife’s edge’.  If:

Canada’s economy falters in any significant way after the policies of the federal Liberals are implemented,

the access to foreign markets is impacted as a result of the BC Liberals refusal to take a necessary stand on the need to enlarge (not contract) BC’s unique position as the western port of entry and egress for primary and manufactured goods and resources (through expanded pipelines, rail service and tanker traffic),

the inability of the emerging educated BC youth to find meaningful employment in  the permanent, viable job market continues to grow,

the much vaunted LNG industry windfall does not materialize (as it certainly will not) and most importantly,

the BC Housing Bubble bursts, with a commensurate decline in consumer confidence and spending (that is currently at an almost unprecedented level),

then the BC economy will certainly decline with potential disastrous consequences to BC and its residents.

Grade: B- (bordering on C or worse based on any of the aforementioned economic scenarios)

Stay tuned for an analysis of the platform promises, policies and the prospective impact on life in BC relating to the other political parties who are currently ‘Pretenders to the Throne’.

Faith Is A Fool’s Excuse To Deny Accountability

I just heard another commentator and guest on a national (and nationally funded) radio network that shall remain nameless (but that contain the letters BCC in its name, not necessarily in that order) espouse the dangerous and growing fallacy that ‘We must have faith in those we have elected’ and similar mantras.

Not only nonsensical but dangerously so, from a societal perspective.  Too much of our existence is based on misplaced faith.  Without ongoing and diligent oversight, those entrusted with power, whether elected or appointed, inevitably tend to become more protective, more secretive and less transparent.

Perhaps even worse, those in power often think that they have donned some magic cloak of omnipotence.  The sad reality is that, all too often we, hoi polloi, the masses, the ‘common’ folk, allow them to perpetuate that myth.

The latest example of a culture of entitlement comes from an almost surprising source.  One of the seemingly most venerated and publicly admired figures, certainly in the Western world, has stooped to the same vile and petulant practice of dealing with whistle blowing (the practice of making making classified information available to the general public) as has been exhibited by an ever-growing number of politicians and bureaucrats.

Yes, Pope Francis, I am talking about you.  While you espouse many wonderful virtues and while 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide embrace you as the ‘earthly father’ of their religion, you have just proved yourself to be as petty and as secretive as many politicians who we justifiably criticize and expose for their failures in accountability.

Pope Francis, you have just shown yourself to be as fallible and as petulant as the rest of us ‘mere mortals’.  As a result, you have diminished my ability to have ‘faith’ and trust in you.  That’s a bit of a sad paradox considering that it is your job to convince the billions of mortals on this planet that we need to embrace and ‘have faith’ in a higher power.

A Vatican judge accountable to Pope Francis has indicted 5 individuals for leaking information concerning alleged financial improprieties and mismanagement within Vatican City and the Roman Catholic Church.

Their crime?  Shedding light.

Have you read your own Bible, Pope Francis?

Mark 4:22 “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light“.  (NKJV)

Because the Vatican City was granted independent nation status in 1929, the Vatican and its 842 (estimated) residents are not bound by or protected by the 2012 Italian legislation that grants statutory protection to whistleblowers working in the public sector.

Congratulations, Pope Francis.  You have now stooped to the same low level of human petulance and iron-fisted secretive control of your own fouled nest as most other politicians and bureaucrats.  The selfsame politicians and bureaucrats who seek our approval and our respect.

What you, Pope Francis, have failed to understand and appreciate is that your wholly inappropriate and unjust actions has now diminished, rather than enhanced, your ultimate power.

There will be thousands, millions and perhaps billions of hoi polloi, the masses, the common folk, who now have lost some respect for you – and your message.  With that lack of respect comes a growing lack of trust, and ultimately, a lack of support.  And that lack of support, for those who cling to power, is the ultimate weapon that we, hoi polloi, use to slay the dragon.  Give us enough reasons to distrust you and we will ultimately take away the power that you seem to crave above all else, including moral and ethical behavior and policies.

Politicians seem to be so disappointed when they are barraged with statistics and public opinion polls that indicate that there is a continuing decline in ‘approval rating’ and the level of trust that we have in politicians and the political process.  Yet those same politicians deliberately, and with malice aforethought, choose to destroy evidence, lose files and emails, prosecute whistleblowers and otherwise throw cloaks of secrecy over their dirty, sordid secrets.

Shame on you, Pope Francis for sinking to the same low level of ethical behavior as has been demonstrated by all too many of your contemporaries.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Christy Clark, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Adrian Dix, Alison Rutherford, Rupert Murdoch – and a growing list of others too long to identify in this brief post.  Add to that list, Pope Francis.

You bring shame to your exalted position.

‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’.  Harry S. Truman


Be careful what you wish for.

Be careful what you wish for.

‘Splendor sine occasu’.  Splendour without diminishment.  The motto of  British Columbia, Canada.  For more facts about BC, click on ‘about’ above for a quick overview.

The principle economic engine for British Columbia has traditionally been resource based, primarily logging, mining and to a lesser degree farming, both on land and aquatic (fishing).

More recently, that economic driver has changed.

2013 BC GDP by Sector

(Click above to view Statistics Canada pie chart source)

As the 2013 BC government report on Gross Domestic Product indicates, the largest contributors (in dollar terms) to the BC economy are:

 Real Estate, Rental and Leasing    –    17.4%

Wholesale and Retail Trade            –    10.0%

Construction                                      –      8.1%

Manufacturing                                  –      7.2%

Natural Resources                            –      7.1%

Health Care, Social Assistance      –      7.1%

Public Administration                     –     6.1%

Transportation & Warehousing    –     5.7%

Finance & Insurance                       –     5.7%

Professional, Scientific, Research –    5.4 %

Education                                          –     5.5%

All other sectors                               –   14.7%

The BC government report further goes on to note that:

“BC has a mature, diversified economy. In 2012, services-producing industries accounted for 75.6 per cent of BC’s real GDP and goods-producing industries accounted for 24.4 per cent”.

The service sector (economists call it the tertiary sector) is sometimes defined as follows (Source:  Wikipedia)

“The service sector consists of the “soft” parts of the economy, i.e. activities where people offer their knowledge and time to improve productivity, performance, potential, and sustainability, which is termed as affective labor. The basic characteristic of this sector is the production of services instead of end products.”

To this point, we have provided a quantity of numbers and statistics.

So what does this have to do with the title of this article?  Why do we have to “be careful what we wish for?”

For the simple reason that the service sector (the tertiary, meaning third order, sector) is called the soft part of the economy for a good reason.  It is also considered tertiary or third in line for the same good reason.

The service sector grows and builds as a result of an expanding economy, with a growing population that has sufficient purchasing power to avail itself of those services.  If there is no purchasing power available, no matter the size of the population, the service sector is vulnerable.  Similarly, if the population base recedes, instead of growing, the service sector must inevitably shrink over time.

We will continue to pay for those things that are necessities to life and we will sacrifice the luxuries, those things not necessary to sustain life and the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.

Those familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can readily identify with the challenge.


The production of ‘goods’, not ‘services’, provides the bulk of the physiological and safety requirements of individuals.  Food, clothing, shelter, tools, medicine, weapons to safeguard one’s own self, family and property (for those would argue that safety requires policing which is a service) and most elemental requirements are based on production of goods, not services.  Only when the base level needs have been satisfied do we turn our attention to the higher tier requirements which, for the most part, are going to be ‘service’ based, not goods based.

Government bureaucracy is a ‘service’ component, not a ‘goods’ component, even by the BC government’s definition.

Why introduce all this psychological baffle-gab?

We introduce it because the health, sustainability and viability of the British Columbia economy, as is the case with all economies, is based on the ability of individuals  and corporations to produce sufficient disposable income to keep paying for the ever-growing ‘service’ sector which is far outstripping the growth of the ‘goods’ sector.

Service sector spending is much more discretionary and less ‘elastic’ (in economic terms) compared to the production of goods.   The production of goods follows a very simple, time tested and inviolate principle.  Over a long period of time, the ‘supply’ of goods cannot exceed the ‘demand’ for goods.  The principle of elasticity dictates that a reduction in demand for goods will invariably result in a commensurate reduction in supply of goods – thus the goods sector is highly elastic.

Because more of the ‘service’ sector is discretionary and based sometimes on government policy decisions, the supply of ‘service’ based factors is much more ‘inelastic’ and the supply of services will not necessarily reduce as fast, or as fully, as the apparent reduction in the ‘demand’ for those services.  In other words, the ‘supply’ of services is not necessarily based on the ‘demand’ for those services. Services, whether justifiable and affordable or not, are often based on government policies and political choices.  In many cases, an economic case is not made for the service.  Instead, a nebulous ‘social’ or ‘politically expedient’ case is made for the provision of the service with little thought to the matter of affordability and sustainability.

So what, you may ask?  This whole academic argument seems kind of boring.

The fact of the matter is that it is not boring and it is of great importance because the over-provision of services, whether warranted or not, is a huge, and growing, cost to most economies, including that of the Province of British Columbia.  At some point in time, this excess of service based production will become financially and economically unsustainable.

Why is there an over-provision of ‘services’ and why is the ‘service sector’ a continually growing percentage of BC’s Gross Domestic Product?

Some of the major components of the growing ‘service’ sector of the BC economy are ‘speculation’ based, rather than based on current economic realities and indicators.  The growth of the real estate, rental and leasing sector (currently the largest contributor to GNP in 2013) is based on expectations of a healthy, sustainable economy, as an example.

Any major downturn in the economy will cause this sector to self-destruct, as has happened historically and elsewhere in a multitude of  jurisdictions, most notably the USA commencing in 2007.

From 2007 to 2009, the value of household real estate in the US fell by over 6 Trillion Dollars – yes that is trillion with a ‘t’.  At the same time, and partially as a result, the expenditures by consumers fell by more than 8%, plunging the US into a major recession.

The ripple effect, including the crash of the stock markets in the US and elsewhere, as well as plunging economies and recessions elsewhere in the Western World caused a financial crisis unparalleled since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Almost miraculously, because of some economic realities and some blind luck, Canada (particularly BC) was shielded from much of that economic carnage.

The economic reality that helped Canada and British Columbia weather the storm was the relative strength of the resource sector.  In the northern hemisphere, climatic and geographic conditions dictate that the consumption of energy fuel sources is a reality.

Homes have to be heated, vehicles need to transport goods and people across comparatively large distances and manufacturing as well as agriculture is based on the conversion of energy into products and goods vital to the human existence.

The relative strength of the much misaligned Oil and Gas industries helped Canada through an incredibly difficult time in the recent history of the industrial world as the wealth generated from that sector was distributed throughout Canada and elsewhere through Canada’s provincial equalization formula and through the creation of jobs and employment.

In British Columbia, the effect of the global recession was mitigated by real estate speculation that has driven up the price (not necessarily value) of real estate, particularly in the lower mainland, to incredibly high, and probably unsustainable, levels.  Much of that real estate speculation comes from Asian investors who see Canada and British Columbia as one of the safest havens for investment, at least on a comparative basis.  But for how much longer, given the prevailing political decision making process?

Be Careful What You Wish For.

Too many BC residents, and as a result the BC government, have collectively been lulled into a false sense of economic security.  Additionally, the promotion of sensationalized and often irrational special interest group considerations that have become ‘hot button’ mantras have  skewed ‘sober second thought’, ‘cost benefit analysis’, ‘fiscal responsibility’ and other traditional mechanisms that provide the checks and balances necessary to maintaining a healthy and sustainable economy.

It is vital that the trend of increased tertiary ‘service’ sector economic factors ultimately reverse in favor of ‘goods’ oriented production.

Goods produce wealth using other peoples’ money (through exports and a healthy balance of payments surplus with other economic jurisdictions).

 Services ‘consume’ wealth using our own money.

If the trend continues and we rely more heavily on ‘service’ industries to maintain the economy of BC rather than recognizing that manufacturing, development of resources (including raw materials and the growth of secondary and tertiary production), fishing, farming and goods related industries such as transportation are the true economic drivers of the BC economy, then we are on the precipice of an imminent financial disaster.

At some point, the ability of the BC government (or any government, for that matter), to extract more revenue from the taxpayer will be capped by the absolute inability of the taxpayer to fund any more government sponsored financial mistakes.

So, what is it that the average BC taxpayer appears to wish for?

  • Support for the Federal Government’s recently announced moratorium on the pipeline projects proposed for Northern BC, specifically the Northern Gateway Project.
  • Increased spending on social housing and related welfare programs for the ‘disadvantaged’  sector of the society.
  • Support for the Carbon Tax and the concept of ‘penalizing’ the use of hydrocarbons to heat even our provincial schools and municipal buildings.
  • Restrictions on the development of BC’s own natural resources based on land claims, speculation concerning potential unremediated environmental degradation, Climate Change speculation and political indecision .
  • Expansion of the BC civil service and the increasing cost thereof.
  • Acceptance of the apparent fact that there are different laws for bureaucrats and government officials compared to the remainder of the citizens of BC.  Computer hard drives are wiped, emails destroyed and evidence of these facts have been brought forward by the Privacy Commissioner in recent days.  Thus far, no strong condemnation or apology from the government including the Premier.
  • Mortgaging the lives of our children and grandchildren in favor of an ever increasing public debt which has already surpassed 65 Billion Dollars , that is $14,513 for every man, woman and child in the province. Note:  That is the Province of BC debt load.  (This does not include Federal and Municipal debt).  Anything other than a balanced budget creates even more debt – that eventually someone must pay for.  Politicians are generally short-sighted in this discussion.  Unethical, unaccountable politicians choose to maintain their political power through promises of providing more for less – and anyone who has to balance a household budget knows how ridiculous that argument becomes.  Whereas you or I have to convince a ‘hard-hearted banker’ that we have the capacity to repay our debts, governments have no such reality checks.  Witness the recent events in the US where every year (sometimes more often) Congress and the Senate have to pass increased debt ceiling legislation – required just to increase borrowings (adding debt) to make money available to pay for government employee salaries, pensions and loan interest.  When is it time to say that enough is enough?

So, residents and citizens of British Columbia, be careful what you wish for.

What you should wish for, in your own best interest as well as the best interests of future generations, is a resolve to gain more knowledge, to learn more facts, and to make a commitment to holding politicians and bureaucrats more accountable for their actions.

There is a legal requirement known as ‘fiduciary trust’.

By definition:

A fiduciary trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustee holds the title to assets for the beneficiary. The trust’s creator is called the grantor.

In the province of British Columbia, the trustee is the elected government including all of the civil servants and bureaucrats who manage the assets that by law belong to all of us who live and reside in British Columbia, almost without exception.

The assets are all of the land holdings, improvements, buildings, equipment, tax dollars et cetera that are publicly funded and owned, the resources of the land, under the land and on and under the sea.  These assets are the legacy that must be vigilantly and fiercely guarded and maintained by us so that they are sustained and available to future generations.

We are collectively the grantor of the fiduciary trust and it is up to the trustees to manage our assets to the absolute best of their ability.

It is our responsibility, our duty, to hold the trustees responsible and accountable and to remove them if they do not perform their duties in accordance with the trust bond that has been created between the voter and the government.

The creation of is intended to provide yet another vehicle to help facilitate the monitoring and the vigilance required of all of us, as residents and trustees in our own right with our children, grandchildren and future generations as the grantors.

Joseph de Maistre: “Every country has the government it deserves (Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite”)

Diogenes: “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth“.

If we are responsible and vigilant, then perhaps future generations will truly  have the opportunity of benefiting from the motto of the Province of British Columbia.

‘Splendor sine occasu’.  Splendour without diminishment.

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