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Majority of lower mainland BCers want 'a sacrifice' over huge 2010 cost overruns
  Sep 19, 2006

A random telephone survey of 515 respondents located in the lower mainland of British Columbia between September 15-18, 2006. This survey features a margin of error of 5.25%, 18 times out of 20 @ 95% competency. This poll was sponsored by New Trend Optical in fantastic Port Coquitlam, with thanks to its proprietor JimVan Rassel (604) 942-9300.

Question #1
The Supreme Court of British Columbia Court of Appeal recently ruled that the BC Government could proceed with its lawsuit against tobacco companies. Millions of health dollars are spent treating sickness and disease associated with tobacco use. However, the BC government collects hundreds of millions in taxes from the sale of tobacco. In your opinion, in light of the fact that the BC government collects tax revenues from the sale of cigarettes and tobacco, is this lawsuit hypocritical?
Yes    48.5 %
No    51.5 %
Question #2
The Court of Appeal decision relating to the tobacco lawsuit made public the day following the controversy relating to the 2010 Winter Olympic cost overruns. BC Liberal Attorney General Wally Oppal is a former BC Supreme Court Judge. In your opinion is this significant news announcement from the Court relative to the 2010 news announcement
suspicious in terms of timing    51.5 %
simply a coincidence in timing    46.5 %
Undecided/Don't Know    02 %
Question #3
News broadcasts from eastern Canada including Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s assertion that he intends to challenge the Conservative position on shutting down the 1- 2 billion dollar gun registry have emerged in light of the shooting at Dawson College in Montreal this week. In your opinion which of the following two statements only, BEST describes your response to these events?
The shooting at Dawson College was done by a crazy person and shouldn’t change the Conservative government’s position on the gun registry    79.5 %
The shooting is an example of why the gun registry should NOT be shut down    20.5 %
Question #4
- BC NDP Opposition Leader Carole James has called for Premier Gordon Campbell to fire Vancouver Olympic Committee head John Furlong and others relating to the 2010 Winter Olympic cost overruns. Do you support Carole James on this account?
Yes    54 %
No    46 %
Question #5
With respect to BC NDP Leader Carole James demand that someone associated with the 2010 Olympics be fired as a consequence of cost overruns, which of the following statements in your opinion BEST describes your feelings about this entire matter?
I absolutely support BC NDP leader Carole James position    45 %
I don't support BC NDP leader Carole James position    42 %
I think the Premier or the Cabinet Minister responsible should resign    11 %
Undecided/Don't Know    02 %
Question #6
Finance Minister BC Liberal Carole Taylor reports that the provincial treasury has a 1.2 billion dollar surplus, not a $600 million dollar one as expected. In your opinion is a surplus a sign the government is doing a good job with taxpayer dollars?
Yes    44 %
No    42 %
Unsure/Undecided    14 %
Question #7
Finance Minister Taylor indicates that the additional $600 million surplus is a result of the strong BC economy, yet the majority of this $600 million additional surplus originates from a dividend from BC Hydro, and ICBC. In your opinion are these dividend payments from government crown corporations alone an indicator of a strong economy?
Yes    27 %
No    66 %
Undecided    07 %
Question #8
The Gordon Campbell BC Liberal government has indicated that if the government holds a fall legislative session, it will do so only briefly, because there really isn’t very much work to do. Critics, including Sara McIntyre, Director of the BC Taxpayer’s Association have suggested that MLA’s should not be paid if they do not hold the fall session. Will McMartin, a well respected BC historian has indicated in the Tyee online newspaper that for many years MLA’s were only paid for the spring session. In other words, history supports Sara McIntyre's assertion they should not be paid if they do not sit. What we are asking is this: In your opinion Premier Campbell’s decision NOT to hold a fall session, or in the alternative to hold only a brief one, was most likely based on which of the following motivations?
(a) The BC Liberal government has known for months that the 2010 Winter Olympic numbers were much higher than expected, and the Premier did not want to confront a hostile Opposition in the legislature    67 %
(b) The Premier did not want to waste taxpayer’s money if there wasn’t work to do    12 %
(c) The Premier wanted the extra time to go out and defend his policies including Olympic cost overruns with the general public    21 %
Commentary
Nearly one out of two BC lower mainland respondents in this poll are of the opinion that the BC tobacco lawsuit is hypocritical. Slightly more than one half of respondents however are suspicious of the timing of the announcement from the BC Courts relative to the news about Vancouver 2010 cost overruns.
An overwhelming majority of BC respondents believe that the shootings at Dawson College are the act of a ‘crazy person’, and should not impact current federal government policies with respect to closing the billion dollar gun registry.
Well over one half of lower mainland respondents in this poll are of the opinion that John Furlong and or others should be fired, or that Premier Gordon Campbell, and or the Minister responsible Colin Hansen should resign.
Respondents are split on whether a government surplus is a desirable thing; however the vast majority of respondents in this poll do not believe BC Finance Minister Carole Taylor’s explanation of how we got to a bigger surplus based on the information provided.
Commentary- It is fairly obvious following the most recent ROBBINS poll on accountability that the BC Liberals have lost credibility with voters on their ability to manage 2010 cost overruns. What isn’t for sure is whether or not a number of swing voters are ready to give Carole James the taxpayer’s cheque book. It is pretty clear that one half of the respondents are under the impression that the party pulled out all stops to deflect and distract over this monstrosity of a political problem, including getting Attorney General Wally Oppal’s friends in the Courts to come to their aid with a timely press release and decision permitting the BC government to go-ahead with litigation against tobacco companies. (Callers indicated that many respondents who answered choice “b” in Question #2 did so with much hesitation).
It has always been a no-no to comment on intentions of Court decisions, and this poll represents a dangerous precedent, that is, that at least one-half of lower mainland British Columbians plus or minus 5% believe there is no particular ‘line’ between politics and the courts in this province.
Although one half of respondents believe the lawsuit is hypocritical (and many of these believe a waste of time and money), there is another half who simply don’t like the tobacco companies, or don’t like the government and tobacco companies and want one or the other or both to get a swift kick in the pants. A significant number of these respondents (one half men/women) also support Carole James call for John Furlong’s resignation.
We know for sure the gunman who precipitated the shootings at Dawson Creek College was ‘crazy’, (what else explains this random behaviour?) and a very strong majority of lower mainland British Columbians believe that this event should have no bearing on the federal government’s policy with regard to the gun registry. Many respondents wondered why the gunman who owned a website featuring pictures of himself and his guns in threatening poses was not discovered and intercepted earlier. The Quebec police who administer firearms applications indicated they did not have the resources to check websites.
GPR’s eleven year old daughter found it hard to believe that the website had never been reported to authorities before. What we don’t know for sure is how crazy the media back east is. Many screamed that this shooting unequivocally pointed to the need for a gun registry (and should thus supercede the government bill on Senate reform and accountability, and how Quebec will punish PM Stephen Harper on this). British Columbians are every bit as progressive in their thinking as Quebec is and the attempts to hold out Quebec as some type of other planet of people for the benefit of ‘abstruse’ political spin is dishonest and destructive. I don’t know what Jean Charest was thinking, acting so abruptly, when sober reflection would have been far more prudent. This poll clearly shows the shooting was a type of one-off by a kook.
BC Finance Minister Carole Taylor has been used mercilessly by the Premier’s Office. I admire her loyalty but if this keeps up, she will start making former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark look competent. (That’s right Christy Clark and competent in one sentence). First, Gordon Campbell’s Liberals barely win a re-election, one in which the media really had to help him win, and one which he might not have won without Carole Taylor’s being on board. Two, the deal out of the Minister of Finance’s office to settle labor disputes helped bring the BC Liberals 50% or more support in the polls. (This is long gone now). The Premier went out in the public and took all of the credit for the deal.
Now, Carole Taylor has had to come to his aid again to bail him out of the 2010 Olympic fiasco, by quite obviously spinning an interim financial report, but has hurt her own credibility in the process. (Crown Corporations are often criticized for hiding government debt. The flip side of this is that they can be used to help out the government books from time to time as they were this week for Carole Taylor’s finance announcement). Ironically, most of the dividend payment totals which were utilized to give the appearance of a stronger economy came from BC Hydro, at the same time when the Finance Minister suggested that revenues from energy would be down by 750 million in the February budget. This looks like more smoke and mirrors bookkeeping and appears to underscore the point that the 2010 statements from the BC Liberals over the past few months were ALL lies, and the BC Liberals like previous governments before them, are not telling the truth to British Columbians. For her part, NDP Opposition Leader Carole James would do well do simply come out and say that her party is not the party of Glen Clark, because if she is Premier she will abide by public expectations of accountability. Her decisions not to make this statement simply enable the bad behaviour of the current government and permits the media to excuse them as well.
All in, the Premier has used up just about all of his Ministers to date. He has strung them across the political stage, given them their lines to say, and each of them including the best have received only sporadic applause for their efforts. Who’s left? In this ROBBINS poll it appears that only the BC New Democrats may be left for BC voters, leaving real BC conservatives and many others out in the cold with no place to call home.
nsight-Federal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff proclaims from Vancouver that British Columbians should not lose sight of the big picture as this relates to 2010 cost overruns. This type of statement reminds us that Mr. Ignatieff has spend most of the last decade or so in the United States and does not understand the BC experience with political life.
For what its worth, Mr. Ignatieff like his main competitors Bob Rae and Stephan Dion also doesn’t understand foreign policy very well. The Bush White House may not have been accurate on weapons of mass destruction, but were compelled into Iraq to ensure that at a minimum they cut off a constant flow of terrorists and trained personnel into Afghanistan from sympathetic countries in the Middle East. To not do so would have left them isolated and easy pickings.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians will die from tobacco related deaths each year and thousands die from drinking and driving accidents. Did we not expect any deaths in Afghanistan? It has been predicted that in the time left on Canada’s involvement in that country 145 soldiers will die. No-one wants anyone to die, but when major states like Florida and California pay 5-10 dollars per person on education and enforcement relating to tobacco and cancer causing issues, and the federal Liberal government under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin paid 65 cents per capita, how can the federal Liberals justify their comments about Canada’s commitment to strategic operations in Afghanistan with a straight face?
With India and Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons, and Iran in the mix, the European community not fully developed, owing in part to a lack of continuity on matter of a constitutional nature and regressive confederates in the eastern bloc economies, China ( a major economic force), Russia possessing vast amounts of oil reserves, (and both of these countries in geopolitical proximity to most of the others), and the Muslim community growing commensurate with mushrooming population in areas like Indonesia and the Philippines who are involved with, or communicating with, or sympathetic to flourishing Marxist governments in Asia Pacific most notably South America, Iraq was a no-brainer to an understandably skittish world hegemony who had been attacked for the first time on its continental soil (as unattractive as foreign policy can sometimes be). Canada has strategic interests in the region not only with China but also with Russia whose own history with Afghanistan is very well documented. A Harvard educated man with a Russian pedigree ought to have known this. But alas, wasn’t former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant from Harvard too?
The correct answer ought to have been: The concept of being the Prime Minister of Canada is not always a mutually inclusive one in terms of our relationship to the United States, but rather a fundamental decision-making process with regard to Canada’s own unique and important strategic interests in the region, and in the world, but like all major world nations must be considered in conjunction with the actions of the United States, who notwithstanding the confusion with their rationales to go to Iraq, can never be truly ignored. The decision for Canada to be in Afghanistan must be measured against any decision not to be there, and no reasonably astute foreign policy decision could ultimately have chosen the latter.
The United States has its own reasons for being in Iraq, and Canada’s strategic interests in Afghanistan and that area of the world are supported by the U.S presence there despite the awkward way in which the U.S. presented itself. The Bush administration will ultimately have to deal with the American public over their continued presence in the region, and this too could impact on Canada’s ability to serve out the three years pledged by the Canadian House of Commons in early 2006. For a leader to pretend that events outside of Canada’s control can ultimately be unilaterally ignored is folly of the highest order. This is not an excuse or an apology; it is simply a fact in terms of dealing with real world situations with real world decision-making. No serious political leader could think otherwise.

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