Victoria: The beginning of May is a wonderful time. The sun starts to really shine and many of the trees and flowers really start to show. It’s a time for hope and optimism.
The beginning of May is important to me personally as well – it’s the first anniversary of me becoming leader of B.C.’s New Democrats, your Official Opposition.
It’s been a very busy and a very successful 12 months and based on everything we have achieved together, I am very hopeful and optimistic.
My first responsibility to you as leader of the opposition is to keep a close watch on how the Liberals are spending your money. As I’m sure you have heard, over the past year New Democrats have uncovered several disturbing episodes of Liberal waste, mismanagement and financial incompetence.
There’s Premier Christy Clark’s multi-million-dollar do-nothing pet project, also known as the auditor general for local government. This was a campaign promise from Christy Clark, a shiny new office that would hunt down wasted money in city halls right across B.C. But after making the promise, the premier never bothered to follow up on how her pet project was going.
So far, it’s cost the B.C. taxpayer $5.2 million in wasted money. The auditor was fired earlier this year and now everyone is going to duke it out in court – on your dime.
The New Democrat opposition also exposed a shocking giveaway of public land. At a time when many hard-working families are struggling to scrape together a down payment for a home, the Liberals are selling prime real estate for jaw-dropping low prices – but only to Liberal insiders. In the Burke Mountain firesale, the Liberals sold $128 million of your land for only $85 million, leaving a whopping $43 million on the table. One piece of land, a 16-acre parcel, was valued at $5.6 million and Christy Clark sold it to a friend for $100,000. That sweetheart deal would still be a secret if New Democrats hadn’t battled for months to uncover it.
What I’m most proud of so far though, is the real change and real results we have delivered for people in British Columbia.
At top of that list is ending “the clawback” of child support payments from single parents on income assistance. This was a heartless Liberal policy that took money away from the most vulnerable children in British Columbia. We helped many single parents come to the legislature and tell their story. We made sure the media paid attention, and we got the law changed.
We stood up for seniors when the Liberals tried to cancel flu clinics across the Lower Mainland. New Democrats made sure that our elders got the protection they need during flu season. And when they tried to cancel family Christmas dinner for seniors in care homes – we made sure they didn’t get away with that.
New Democrats worked hard to get a specialized clinic for survivors of childhood cancer. These young adults often live with serious, lifelong side effects from their treatment. I’m very proud that our advocacy and work with these families led to the government agreeing to open a new clinic for them.
There are many more achievements I could list. But instead of talking about me, I’d rather listen to you.
That’s why I have travelled to every region in B.C. and spent time in communities large and small, urban and rural. I joined 300,000 people on the streets of Surrey to celebrate Vaisakhi and I also sat with hundreds of families to discuss rising gang violence. I’ve met with forestry workers and veterans in Prince George and young families in Chilliwack, just to name a few.
Everywhere I go, people tell me their family needs a break. Real wages haven’t kept up with rising costs, and Premier Clark wants to take more of each paycheque every month. Families are paying more for basic necessities like Hydro, ICBC coverage, and MSP premiums. Drivers are paying more to get on a ferry or cross a bridge. We’re even paying more for a beer.
It’s been nice to hear the media say that New Democrats “have found their stride” and we’re “hitting homes runs.” But I don’t pay too much attention to that. My focus is on making sure that anyone who is willing to work hard can get ahead. My New Democrat team and I are determined to build on this year’s achievements, and continue to get real results for you and your family.