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HomeBusinessDay 24: Highlights from one debate and two platforms

Day 24: Highlights from one debate and two platforms

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Bob Mackin

Familiar Wall

The BC Liberals released their platform Oct. 13 at Wall Centre Hotel, site of millions of dollars worth of party fundraisers, conventions and the party’s most-spectacular victory parties in 2001 and 2013. Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s set appeared to be a socially distanced version of Jeopardy, with three podiums equipped with blue screens.

Overshadowed

The platform reveal was also Wilkinson’s first public appearance since the Saturday night surprise, the clip of Jane Thornthwaite’s gossip at the Ralph Sultan virtual roast. Wilkinson condemned Thornthwaite and offered to apologize directly to NDP MLA Bowinn Ma. Wilkinson justified his non-action on the Sept. 17 fundraising Zoom event by saying that it’s “hard to stop the train at a social event.”

Promises, promises

The BC Liberals platorm included: A one-year Provincial Sales Tax holiday, ending the ICBC monopoly, the George Massey bridge and $10-a-day daycare were already exposed planks. One new surprise: “Launch and ensure a truly independent review of the response to COVID-19 in our seniors’ long-term care and assisted living homes.” John Horgan has resisted calls for an investigation into the more than 100 deaths. 

Bad timing

Wilkinson has kept up the pressure on Horgan, after calling an election when one wasn’t needed. The BC Liberals gave the province fixed election dates and promise to restore them. “Prepare legislation to strengthen BC’s fixed election date legislation, and limit the Premier’s ability to manipulate election dates for partisan benefit, by banning early elections during provincial emergencies.”

Weird timing

While the BC Liberals were criticized for releasing their platform about eight hours before the televised leaders debate on Oct. 13, the BC Greens waited until the morning after. Leader Sonia Furstenau went to New Westminster to issue the “green print.”

Green platform for the 2020 snap election.

Where’s Sonia?

“The BC Greens’ Plan for a More Equitable and Sustainable BC” may be the first party platform in the history of party platforms without the name and face of the leader.

Information rights

The Greens are the only Big Three party to mention anything in the platform about the right to know. Under a made-in-B.C. environmental charter, the Greens promise “Information rights that ensure we all have the access to all the information relevant to decisions that affect the environment.”

And the winner is…

Furstenau had the least to lose and most to gain in the Chan Centre-hosted debate on Oct. 13. She was clearly the most-relaxed and delivered barbs to Wilkinson on her right and Horgan on her left.

Jitters

First blooper: Horgan forgot the election date that he chose. He said Oct. 26, then quickly corrected himself to Oct. 24. Horgan also mixed up the GST with the PST. Wilkinson mentioned multiple times his past as a doctor and lawyer, though he is licensed to practice neither profession. Horgan inexplicably missed a chance to remind British Columbians that Wilkinson was a doctor first and then lawyer who defended Big Tobacco against governments seeking damages for cancer patients.

Surprises

Wilkinson said “of course” he would commit to continuing the Cullen Commission into money laundering. Under Furstenau grilling about Site C, Horgan pivoted to blaming the BC Liberals, despite shuffling the board and green lighting the project in late 2017. Horgan hinted that the Peter Milburn report on the troubled project’s budget and scheduling could lead to a reconsideration of the project.

John Horgan (B.C.
Broadcast Consortium)

Quote of the night

In an exchange with Horgan, Furstenau said: “Astonishing to hear you say that you needed to put politics behind us by putting us into politics front and centre in a campaign election when we didn’t need it, and what we had in the legislature, what British Columbians were counting on and so grateful for, was we actually put a scientist out in front, we put politics behind us. All three parties indicated and acted on ensuring that we were putting people first, we were putting the needs people had to have met in a global pandemic first, that’s what we should be doing right now. That’s what we’re not doing. We’re here on a stage debating things when we should be in the legislature making sure people are getting what they need.”

Moderator

Furstenau was the only one that properly pronounced moderator Shachi Kurl’s first name. It’s more like the Happy Days character (“Chachi”) than the U.K. ad agency (“Saatchi and Saatchi”). Angus Reid Institute’s Kurl said questions were developed by the “province’s top political journalists and observers,” but she did not name them.

There was a glaring lack of questions about B.C.’s spot in the world, so heavily reliant on U.S. and China trade. Former is an ally in turmoil. Latter a totalitarian adversary, interfering in B.C. governance.

At the end of the night, Kurl thanked the leaders for their respectful decorum and said “y’all get a cookie.” That may become B.C.’s newest. election catchphrase.

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