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HomeBusinessDay 8: Big promise, big cost

Day 8: Big promise, big cost

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Bob Mackin

During the 2017 election campaign, the BC Liberals announced bridge toll discounts for the Port Mann Bridge. Hours later, the NDP one-upped the BC Liberals, promising to end the toll altogether.

It was a strategy that paved the way for the NDP to win six of the nine Surrey ridings, which resulted in the end of the BC Liberal 16-year majority.

Richmond Coun. Carol Day joined John Horgan in a Minoru Park photo op, but not as a candidate.

So BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson made a big, bold promise on Sept. 28 to cut the provincial sales tax to 0% for a year and then 3% for the next. That’s a $6.88 billion budget hole in the first year. He made the announcement outside the London Drugs warehouse loading bays in Richmond.

Wilkinson was vague on how a BC Liberal government would make-up the shortfall.

“Everyone knows that we’re in a big economic crisis and this is not a time to worry about the details so much as to get people back to work,” Wilkinson said. “One of the ways to get people back to work is to stimulate the economy by reducing taxes.”

When Wilkinson was a deputy minister in the first BC Liberal government, the PST rose from 7% to 7.5% in February 2002, the year after winning an election. BC Liberals dropped it back to 7% in 2004, the year before winning re-election.

Five years later, fresh from winning a third majority, the 2009 HST debacle was eventually undone by the 2011 referendum.

The sales tax holiday promise came on the heels of a BC Liberal promise for universal free flu shots. B.C. and Quebec are the only provinces that still charge for flu shots, despite a long list of exemptions.

The BC Liberals scored their first points of the campaign with the PST and flu shots promises, as the NDP and its supporters awkwardly argued against both proposals. The NDP is the party of medicare champion Tommy Douglas and it rallied against the HST. 

Day of Richmond

John Horgan went to Minoru Park in Richmond for a picnic table talk in front of cameras with Richmond Coun. Carol Day.

The 2013 BC Conservative candidate in Steveston is endorsing the NDP. Despite the photo op, she is not running with the party.

“I have a very sick mother right now and it’s just not a good time in my life,” Day told theBreaker.news. “I never say no to anything until I’ve had a chance to think it over. it’s a different kind of job being an MLA.”

An hour after Day’s no-questions from reporters sit-down with Horgan, the NDP announced Coun. Kelly Greene would vie for Steveston again, now that incumbent BC Liberal John Yap is not running.

During the noon hour, Greene told theBreaker.news that she was attending Horgan’s Minoru stop, laughed at a question about running (but did not deny) and said she would call back. Instead, she texted a message to say she would be attending an emergency city council meeting instead of Minoru.

Elsewhere for the NDP, Henry Yao is running in Richmond-South Centre and Aman Singh, the 2017 runner-up, in Queensborough. The North Centre candidate is to be announced, but Day said it will not be her.

“I was looking at all of them, to keep an open mind. I couldn’t make the time commitment. If I can’t do it 100,000%, I can’t do it at all.”

Day said she was an ally of Horgan in the campaign against a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. In July, Horgan announced a plan to build a new tower at Richmond Hospital.

“I’m very impressed with what they’ve done in the last three years, in particular with the finally deciding to have a new hospital,” Day said. “Over the last 16 years we’d had one announcement after announcement with the BC Liberal candidates.”

Abbotsford apology

When Bruce Banman was mayor of Abbotsford in 2012, he was outspoken about social issues under his watch.

“You are, if you are a drug user, a criminal,” he said at the time. “You’re not a helpless victim. You are, and choose to be, a criminal. It is an illegal activity that you are doing. If you are a pedophile, you are a criminal. And how we deal with criminals is we lock ‘em up.”

Banman is running for the BC Liberals in Abbotsford South and said he no longer subscribes to those views.

“Mental health issues are a medical problem,” Wilkinson said. “Addictions are similarly a medical disorder of various causes, and the causes needed to be treated.”

While Wilkinson took the day off Sunday, Horgan made his first Sunday stop in the Cowichan Valley riding of Sonia Furstenau. Furstenau accused Horgan of giving her the cold shoulder, because she had a big role in advocating for a new area hospital.

Keeping track

A week into the election and there are 1,302 active cases of coronavirus after 267 were added since Sept. 25. Sixty-nine individuals hospitalized. Total 8,908 cases and 233 dead, after three more succumbed. 

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