Monday, March 14, 2011

Particle board cabinet under micro-thin veneer

Will McMartin wrote this a month ago in The Tyee about Finance Minister Colin Hansen:
"Hansen was true to his word -- he didn't set out any 'new directions.' A new direction for a BC Liberal finance minister would have meant, after all, honestly depicting the province's finances."
Perhaps, this demonstrates why Hansen's political career crashed suddenly today when un-elected Premier Clark declined to reappoint the once powerful Cabinet member. This man had been widely respected but loyalty to Gordon Campbell led him to sacrifice personal honor for expediency. Hansen has been caught repeatedly being, at best, economical with truth when speaking of public business.

Actually, he went far beyond evasion, confusion and mumbling baffle-gab. He became willing to deal regularly in misdirection, partial-truths and outright falsehoods. In politics, we expect partisans to highlight good news and downplay bad but they have no license to lie, merely for their own political benefit.

Clark's choices in building her Executive Council may come back to haunt. Moira Stillwell out while Mary Polak remains? Nonsense. Falcon in Finance may reassure ersatz capitalists supporting the BC Liberal coalition but how comfortable will Falcon be with the federal Liberal mafia haunting the halls of power, looking to hijack the gravy train.

I'm happy to see Mike de Jong out of the Attorney General office and we can only hope Barry Penner better understands the tradition of a non-political AG. Another new Solicitor General, another weak one, means same old same old when it comes to ineffective police oversight and non existent accountability. Jamie Graham will be pleased.

De Jong has already indicated he is comfortable privatizing healthcare. That industry is ready to pounce, expecting that a Harper majority will soon deliver enabling changes to the Canada Health Act. NDP leadership candidate Adrian Dix says,
"During the BC Liberal leadership campaign, the new Health Minister, Mike de Jong spoke about the need for a bigger role for private operators in our health care system. Together with Premier Clark’s new plan to restrain investment in public medicare, de Jong’s appointment is ominous for British Columbians who were hoping for positive change in health care."
Dix also worries about damage that will be done by another failed Minister from the preceding government.
“And we can only hope that the mounting problems that we saw in Children and Family Development under Mary Polak will not be replicated in her new ministry of Aboriginal Relations.”
The critical ministry held by Polak has been in disarray for years but may get another makeover with new Deputy Minister Stephen Brown, with Lesley du Toit now departed. Mary McNeil has rather little experience in Victoria but she is more qualified and seems less driven by ideology than her predecessor in the family ministry. If she is smart, she will make peace immediately and be guided by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the independent Representative for Children and Youth. That is one impressive civil servant.

On the list I looked at, Harry Bloy was noted as Minister of Social Development. Either that is a misprint or a practical joke played by Ms. Unelected Premier. After watching a video at Sean Holman's Public Eye, it appears that Mr. Bloy is indeed a Cabinet Minister. He is uncertain about what his job entails but may find out soon from his staff. An insider suggests that Bloy will be responsible for dinners, receptions and presentations.
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