July 06, 2015

The transit referendum and Christy Clark's amazing lack of leadership

The results of the Transit Referendum are now available. Finally. That it took six weeks to come up with the results and then to release the numbers on July 2nd, a time when many citizens in Metro Vancouver are beginning vacation or taking an extended Canada Day weekend, says a great deal about our fine government in Victoria.

All things considered the rejection of the 0.5% increase in the sales tax is not all that surprising. That the Yes side went down to such a resounding defeat is disheartening. There are obvious problems with TransLink, the unelected board named by the provincial government. There are local political issues present in the 23 jurisdictions that make up the region. And there is the never ending whine of  "why should I pay for something I will never use?" in response to the question of transit. Or public schools for that matter.

There is also the overriding issue of leadership in the whole matter. Leadership that knows the definition of the very term. Why did our provincial government force the region's mayors to accept the referendum process? Why did our premier ignore repeated pleas to allow more time for the plebiscite to be held? Why in fact, does our premier refuse to offer leadership on an issue so vital to all British Columbians? Shouldn't we have long term planning for transit in this province? Is it up to local mayors to come up with a plan and then to let the people decide as directed by the premier?

Christy Clark didn't have any trouble announcing a replacement to the Massey Tunnel, with nary a mention given to public transit in that proposal. But then again, she didn't make much of an effort to come up with a price tag either. Maybe we should let the people decide. Or maybe not, as might be the whim of the premier on any particular day.

We elect people to represent our interests and make decisions for the common good. Sometimes that means making decisions many of us won't like, because there is a greater good. Leadership was not present in the Transit Referendum. It wasn't present in the mayors, a befuddled group if ever there was one, and it wasn't in evidence from our government in Victoria. The lack of leadership displayed by the premier was unseemly at best. Where is the vision, dedication and courage to do the common good in this Liberal government?

What would W.A.C. Bennett have done I wonder?

Copyright 2015  by Jim Murray.

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