planes will be leaving with politicians on annual trips
to Hawaii, and British Columbians will brace themselves
for what could be the third year in a row with a major scandal
at Christmas. No one knows what it might be, but surprise
is the best part of opening the presents under the tree.
While we wait for this year's goodies, in the time honoured
tradition, a review of 2004 is in order. The review shows
a government that appears to have run out of ideas.
The year started with Finance Minister Gary Collins rushing
back from Maui to deal with the crisis in his office over
the police raid on the legislature and the seizure of documents
from his assistant, David Basi. Almost a year later, questions
surrounding the reasons for the raid remain unanswered.
Hogg resigned as Minister of Children and Family Development
over controversy surrounding the role of Doug Walls in his
Ministry. A subsequent investigation found Hogg innocent
of any wrong doing, but Campbell didn't return him to cabinet.
The Sierra Legal Defense Fund obtained documents through
freedom of information revealing that the Campbell government
returned $2.3 million in fines and rents to fish farms that
had violated environmental regulations.
by the legislative calendar, Finance Minister Garry Collins
tabled his budget on the third Tuesday in February. Subsequent
events, including a $2 billion surplus, have shown that
it probably wasn't necessary for him to proceed with his
third year of cuts to services. In addition to the cuts
made in the first two years, a further $803 million was
cut from 14 Ministries including a cut of $70 million to
the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Campbell government implemented its two year maximum welfare
rule, but it also introduced 25 exemptions from the rule.
Too stubborn to admit it was wrong, the 25th exemption it
added was for anyone looking for work, something that has
always been required.
March: Surrey-Whalley MLA Elayne Brenzinger resigned
from caucus and blasted Campbell in a news release, only
to disappear and not make herself available to the news
media. The hottest part of the story was an admission by
caucus whip Kevin Krueger that MLAs were routinely suspended
from caucus but who, when and what for is kept secret.
Province columnist Mike Smyth broke the story that the contract
for disposing of BC Rail involves a 990 year lease - 90
years plus 15 extensions of 60 years each. Every 60 years
the government has the option of buying it back at prevailing
In response to the privatization of the administration of
Pharmacare and MSP, BC's Freedom of Information Commissioner
began an investigation into the impact of the US Patriot
Act on privacy in BC.
The River Rock casino opened in Richmond, marking a major
expansion in gambling. Other locals casinos also switched
to operating 24/7.
To the surprise of many polling companies, Paul Martin came
out of the federal election with a minority government.
BC Ferries proceeded with contracts to purchase new ferries
in Germany despite pleas from local mayors and some government
backbenchers. The first to break ranks, Dan Jarvis, now
faces a challenge for his nomination.
launched its massive TV ad campaign with the slogan "BC
is the best place on earth" and refused to disclose
the cost of the ads.
September: Christy Clark, the only woman to wield
power in the Campbell cabinet, announced she was stepping
down as Minister of Children and Family Development, and
that said she would not seek re-election.
The Campbell government announced further gambling expansion
with online betting.
NDP's Jagrup Brar swept the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election
with 53.6% of the vote. The Liberals only took 33.4%, and
the Greens dropped to 8.4% with leader Adriane Carr as their
Susan Brice, Minister of Human Resources, dismissed evidence
that 1 in 5 BC children live in poverty.
Collins, Minister of Finance, released the Second Quarterly
Report showing a likely surplus of $2 billion based primarily
on $1 billion in federal equalization payments.
Ipsos-Reid released a poll showing the Campbell Liberals
and the NDP in a statistical dead heat.
Years Day 2005 is just 137 days until the election on May
17th. Some say the campaign won't kick off until after the
budget speech on February 15th, others believe the campaign
started last summer with the government ad campaign. Political
pundits will have a wonderful New Year watching the parties
slowly unveil their campaign strategies.