Editorial — Provincial government lurching ahead
The ongoing confusion over the botched deal with Telus over naming rights of the refurbished B.C. Place stadium seems to indicate a provincial government that is having trouble reading its cue cards.
In some ways, this isn’t surprising. One year ago, the BC Liberals elected former MLA and talk show host Christy Clark as their leader. While she had served in cabinet up until 2005, she was definitely out of touch with how the province was being governed — particularly in the backrooms of cabinet and caucus meetings, where the real decisions are made.
She was brought in as a fresh face after severe public dissatisfaction with the governing BC Liberals, something that came to a crescendo over the HST.
Clark at first seemed to stem the tide of dissatisfaction, but the honeymoon didn’t last long. The HST referendum was hanging over the head of the government, and when the controversial tax was defeated, her government lost much of what credibility it had retained.
Since that time, it has seemed to lurch from issue to issue, often in a bumbling fashion. The steady work of cabinet ministers such as Fort Langley-Aldergrove’s Rich Coleman is overshadowed by one controversy or another.
The Telus fiasco is a prime case in point. There was no hint that the stadium renaming wasn’t proceeding, until Telus pointedly did not invite the premier (who has a “jobs agenda”) to a press announcement, where it outlined $3 billion of investments in B.C. Notably, NDP leader Adrian Dix was invited.
Then the rumours started flying, until the government finally confirmed that it had shelved a deal in which Telus would have paid $35 million over 20 years for naming rights. There were some conflicts over the fact that a prominent B.C. Place user, the Vancouver Whitecaps, is sponsored by a rival phone company, but that didn’t seem insurmountable.
Then a whole variety of different stories started flying, and as of this writing, it’s hard to separate fact from innuendo and rumour.
It is sufficient to note that the government has snubbed B.C.’s largest private sector employer, caused confusion in professional sports ranks and demonstrated that it can’t make basic decisions in a straightforward manner. None of this inspires confidence.