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June 21, 2012

Hit to Liberal Credibility

Has the Campbell-Clark government broken trust with BC voters so often that the bonus scandal at CLBC (Community Living BC) doesn't matter? Issues like more money for the CLBC management team while others have wage freezes might make even the few last Liberal holdouts give up.

On October 21, 2011 Minister Stephanie Cadieux focused a news release on the elimination of bonuses at Community Living BC. Now she says contractual obligations limit the government's ability to change management contracts at CLBC. If that is true, it would have been more honest and transparent of the Clark government to have said so last year. Consider the difference in public perception between: 1) bonus payments will be eliminated, and 2) bonus payments will be replaced with almost equivalent pay increases. Minster Cadieux and the Premier allowed British Columbians to believe it was answer one when it was actually answer two.

Some might argue that a little deception over CLBC is nothing compared to breaking contracts with HEU and the BCTF, selling BC Rail (after promising not to) and implementing the HST (a post-election surprise). It is easy to see the big broken promises, but recent behaviour from Clark's government shows little has changed with respect to credibility. In a series of hospital announcements the Premier pulled numbers out of the air, claiming they were in the 2012 budget although anyone can search the document and see that is not true. After more negative poll numbers, the Premier was understandably too bashful to appear with Attorney General Shirley Bond on another re-announcement, billed as the second leg in the Families First Agenda. Bond rolled funding for the gang task force together with family maintenance enforcement and justice centres to make a bundle she said would make communities safer. The opposition said it is not news that the gang task force won't be cut and justice centres don't compensate for underfunding legal aid.

Is it possible the Premier simply didn't want to face the media after two more negative polls for her government? Recent announcements have resulted in media questions on current events dominating her attempts to control the agenda.

While apparently desperate to claim sole leadership of the "free enterprise coalition", it now appears that Premier Clark is in hiding from a press gallery that would simply like her to be accountable, to respond to daily events and to say why anyone should believe what she has to say. Premier Clark hiding from the media might be worse for the Liberals than Premier Clark frequently changing her persona. One way or the other, credibility of her government and party continues to suffer.