Commentary
Apr 27, 2016

Clock's ticking on Clark government

Twenty years of BC Liberal rule? Don't let it happen!

As the Spring 2016 edition of Public Employee went to press, I looked forward to working with all the delegates who will be in Victoria for our annual Convention to conduct the important business of our union on behalf of all our 85,000 members. 

Thanks again to our executive board for appointing me as president to succeed Brother Mark Hancock. After working with him for three years, I am honoured to build on Mark’s work as our division president as he sets the course for CUPE across Canada as our national president.

WE’RE PAYING FOR THE RICH

In February I attended the provincial budget lock-up in Victoria. The “lock-up” gives stakeholders, including the labour movement and the business community, an advance look at the Budget documents before they’re released to the public.

I was shocked to see the BC Liberals’ complete inaction on what I think is one of the most pressing issues of our time: child poverty. They managed to raise MSP rates — again — and slash supports for the most vulnerable while, at the same time, cutting taxes for the richest British Columbians by $236 million. And they managed to siphon off $100 million for a phony “prosperity fund” by making cuts to K-12 “administration costs” while at the same time increasing support for private schools.

When it’s properly funded, public education is the great leveller in our society. It gives kids from disadvantaged backgrounds the same opportunity to succeed as kids from wealthy homes. One of the greatest weapons we have to fight inequality and social injustice is a quality public education system. And yet Christy Clark is closing schools and slashing funding.

At a time when our province’s economy leads the country, it’s appalling and shameful that the government is only sharing prosperity with the people who are already doing just fine.

PROUDLY NEW DEMOCRAT

CUPE BC is not only the largest union in British Columbia, but also one of the most politically active unions in the province. Every year, delegates to Convention reaffirm our affiliation with the BC New Democratic Party, and we recommit ourselves to working to elect a truly progressive government in Victoria.

Next May — just 377 days from the opening of our convention — is the next provincial election. After 16 years of regressive rightwing Liberal government in Victoria, it truly is time for a change. We will be working hard over the coming months to build additional capacity to engage members to work with us for change.

CUPE BC traditionally has been most active in local elections, where in so many communities we are almost literally electing our bosses. The connection to provincial politics for our members and our locals isn’t quite so direct, but the provincial government holds the key to solving so many of the problems that our members — and our communities — face.

A TERRIBLE LEGACY

Sixteen years of BC Liberal government. Sixteen years of torn-up contracts. Cuts to health care. Cuts to education. Cuts to supports for the most vulnerable. An almost absolute indifference to the needs of working people, and an almost absolute focus on the needs of the richest and the biggest corporations.

Having this gang of right-wingers run this province for 16 years is bad enough. But if Christy Clark pulls off another win next year, by the time the next election comes around in 2021, it will have been 20 years — two decades — since the NDP was in power, and I’m afraid we won’t recognize our province. I hope you’ll work with us to elect a government that represents all British Columbians, not just the privileged elite.

Paul Faoro is President of CUPE BC, representing 85,000 workers in communities across BC.

COPE 491