Opinion

Right decision not to call an election

Last Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark announced on the Global TV 6 p.m. newscast that there would not be a fall election in B.C. It appears from her words that there won’t be an election until the fixed date in May, 2013.

Clark’s decision makes a great deal of sense, and not only for the reasons she outlined.

She cited ”instability” on the economic front, and suggested that elections in themselves bring on more instability. While there is some truth in the latter point, elections are also an essential element of democracy. The alternative, dictatorship, is not one Canadians favour.

As for economic instability, she is correct that there is plenty of economic uncertainty, in B.C., across Canada, and in the world. Here in B.C., the pending death of the HST adds some instability, simply because the tax favours business and investment. Business people always look for the best deal on taxes.

We also have housing prices that, in some parts of the Lower Mainland, require mortgages that consume 92 per cent of pre-tax income. This is completely unsustainable. We are either going to have a big drop in housing prices, or more and more people will become renters out of necessity.

Across Canada, while interest rates are low (one reason that house sales remain strong), job prospects and security are mixed. Canada has done quite well since the 2008 economic dip, partially because our banks are in good shape, partially because of lower government debt loads and partially because resource prices have stayed quite high. There is no guarantee that all three factors will continue to go our way.

The world situation is well-known to us all. Many European countries have debt crises, and the U.S. is not far behind. In addition, U.S. housing prices continue to sink and unemployment there is far too high. Consumer confidence in the U.S. is low.

Most B.C. residents would rather have Clark dealing with economic matters than plunging us into the third political campaign of the year.

Another reason that it makes no sense to have a provincial election is the conflict with municipal elections. These elections are on a three-year fixed timetable, and are vital for the proper governance of local matters. Here in Langley, we will have a hard-fought election for Township mayor and council, and possibly for the board of education. The Langley City contest is unlikely to be lively, but it too is important.

Perhaps the best reason not to have an election is to allow voters to assess the three main parties and their leaders over a longer period of time. Clark will be measured as to her performance as premier and leader of the BC Liberals. Adrian Dix will be weighed as to how he does in his role as leader of the NDP and leader of the opposition.

And John Cummins, who is new to provincial politics but well-known as a longtime MP, will be closely watched as he attempts to revive the BC Conservatives. All three have only held their current jobs for a few months, and we need more time to throughly check them out.

The election talk and backroom work can now stop, and the real work can get underway.

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