JOHN TWIGG -- Meanwhile in the news there is growing debate around the world about whether the cure is worse than the disease
Well the weather has shifted to warmer but in B.C. politics, the songs remain pretty much the same: we face another week of major uncertainties.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted that because the conditions around COVID-19 are unprecedented the next steps are open to anything, from tweaks in the second month of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) later this week to a new and potentially also massively costly federal program of bridge financing for large corporations "to ensure that we have an economy to go back to" when the current pandemic is over.
Some 2 million people in Canada are now unemployed due to COVID and there is no manual or guide book for how a government should handle such a crisis [except of course The Bible, but that's a different story] so what is to be done now really does remain to be seen.
B.C. picture is optimistic
Here in B.C. the post-COVID picture seems a bit clearer and more optimistic as the province's infection rate statistics continue to be positive (i.e. B.C.'s disease rate is trending down) but that doesn't help hundreds of thousands of small business owners and their employees in areas such as restaurants and hair salons who are watching their businesses die and nor for other retail trades who have been off work for many weeks now and all whose many landlords are waiting for rent cheques.
Just how bad is it?
Jacqui Cohen has announced that the iconic historic Army & Navy chain of retail stores in downtown Vancouver will not re-open. That throws probably several hundred jobs down the drain (direct and indirect) but it also illustrates the big picture of the COVID19 crisis: it also will enable new beginnings on perhaps better footings, which in the case of the original Army & Navy store will be a real estate development (probably housing) in a prime location worth many thousands of times more than the margins from a thrift store in a tough part of town ever could reach.
The key point, early on in to this week, is that there will be opportunities for a recovery that could have us emerge better than ever before, at least here in B.C. if not in dysfunctional Canada (and less likely so in thousands of worse hell-holes of lawlessness and corruption around the world).
That concept of New Beginnings will be the theme in my forthcoming first issue of The Twigg Report (possibly a weekly or bi-monthly) and maybe also the first issue of B.C. Politics Trendwatch (likely a monthly with an alert service in between). Not to mention that it (the new-beginnings theme) also is central in The Bible story.
Meanwhile in the news there is growing debate around the world about whether the cure is worse than the disease because the way COVID is killing economies is causing a lot more personal agony and commercial stresses than any flu bug would have done naturally, with COVID deaths concentrated among elderly males in old-folks homes (aka long-term care facilities - which also are a story in themselves in B.C. politics).
The B.C. NDP government of Premier John Horgan has been winning accolades even from traditional opponents for its handling so far of the COVID19 crisis and maybe this week we'll get a better idea of how he and his colleagues plan to get the province back to work as soon as possible and then how to rebuild and restructure the B.C. economy so that it will be much more durable - and larger! - than it is now, with more better-paying jobs for more people, especially those born and raised here and who want to stay here to raise families.
To that end I was a bit underwhelmed this morning to see the two new news releases below from the Horgan government reporting on a policy initiative for economic reforms arising from the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) negotiated by Horgan and B.C. Green Party then-leader Andrew Weaver by which Horgan became Premier in a minority coalition government that so far has held remarkably secure and steady.
I haven't had time to study the actual documents yet but the news releases with the links are appended below for any who wish to see them and meanwhile it's glaringly obvious that there is no mention of tax relief for businesses, which coincidentally was a policy recommendation recently to Horgan from B.C. Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson, which Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James openly welcomed and repeated.
Instead the policy recipes sound mostly like sops to Green Party dogma, especially echoes of (former?) federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May's recent claim that "oil is dead" and that the whole petroleum, gas and coal industries should be shut down for the sake of the environment and human health, which of course is madness several times over and completely disregards how dependent the global economies are now on petrochemicals (which greatly enhance quality of life for billions of people).
For example there was no reference in the news releases to B.C. using its energy advantages even more so than now, no mention of exporting B.C.'s vast volumes of surplus fresh water sitting at tidewater ports (in bottles and in bulk), no mentions of food self-sufficiency or fixing the urban crime epidemic [though at least the recent shutdowns of three tent cities in Vancouver and Victoria is a good start that probably will prove inadequate] and no mentions of no doubt many other important planks in rebuilding B.C. whether post-COVID or generally.
To be fair, I just glanced at the Ministry's posted links and noticed a report from January 2020 that did focus on business angles, but I didn't have time to read it and don't recall there being any buzz about it.
So, let's be careful what we wish for eh, such as steering clear of Bill Gates' latest push towards a cashless society in which no man could buy or sell unless they have a password issued by a beastly computer out there somewhere in the Internet.
We'd be far better off to revive the Bank of B.C. as a government-owned and run entity (aka Provincial Treasury Branches), maybe let it issue currency and how about dropping its head office onto Jacqui Cohen's downtown goldmine property which I hear is for sale!
John Twigg ... is a long-time independent journalist and occasional partisan activist now based in Campbell River.