Under normal circumstances, the B.C. Liberal provincial leadership race would not factor much into my daily thoughts. Yeah, it’s going to be important down the line, but I don’t really care which dull candidate I’m going to have to be disappointed in, come the next provincial election. Inevitably I’ll have reason to be upset when the electoral reform referendum fails, because we are a society of losers who can do little right but complain, and who, for some reason, trust the B.C. Liberals to tell us that things that are “new” can’t be trusted. I don’t look forward to that hellscape of shattered optimism for future generations and society, but I’d rather be surprised by a win, than let down by a loss.
However, now that I’ve started following more provincial political actors and journalists on Twitter, I’ve gone and got myself riled up by a stray tweet. On December 1, at 1:09 p.m. (just mere moments before I was put under for quadruple wisdom tooth extraction, which seemed fitting for some reason) Abbotsford MLA Mike de Jong (guys, it’s Mike instead of Michael, because he’s relatable now) tweeted:
“The single most important thing a government can do is ensure that young people receive a good education. #ylw #bcpoli #bclib18”
— Mike de Jong (@Mike_de_Jong) December 1, 2017
Granted, he was finance minister for the last couple of years, so this isn’t completely his glass castle, but as one of the front runners in the race, and I’d argue most recognizable names — hometown hero and all — the attention now is warranted. I’m sure there are some people who might have come off worse — former Minister of Education Mike Bernier (famed for firing members of a Vancouver school board), and especially former leader Christy Clark herself — so let’s maybe focus on the assertion, rather than who said it.
For the B.C. Liberals to pretend they give a shit — now — is almost as funny as the fact they tried shaking the baggage that comes with their “big money” image by having entry fees and spending caps almost double that of the NDP’s for this leadership race. (Mike and his buddies can spend up to $600,000, and need just a tenth of that just to enter.) Image what all that money could do, and more importantly could HAVE done, if it had been used to cover the cost of adult education, upgrading, and English language courses to help people get their lives moving forward. (They are tuition-free again under new government.)
If only their famed “balanced budgets” (teetering on funds siphoned from ICBC surpluses) had prioritized investing into keeping class sizes small, and not in dragging out a series of court cases with the B.C. Federation of Teachers since the early 2000s that eventually saw the government shamed in a Supreme Court ruling last year — forcing us to now play catchup to upgrade facilities, hire teachers, and evaluate the lasting damage of education cuts over the past decade.
For the record, it was just one tweet among many, and he does have good ideas to offer (and maybe the rest of the party does too). It’s just infuriating to see that some of this ambition wasn’t around when any of these people had the power to actually do something about them. I’m sure I’ll say the same about the next opposition, but this just happens to be the first stage of my life when I’m interested, and grumpy enough to pay attention to provincial politics.