B.C. Liberal government’s balanced budget claim undermined by election-year asset fire sale

SURREY– Reliance on a fire sale of public assets calls into question the B.C. Liberals' promise of a balanced election-year budget and demonstrates they will sell out B.C.'s future for their short-term political needs, say New Democrats.

“A one-time sale of assets does nothing to address the underlying deficit and simply pushes the government’s fiscal problems past the election,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix. “This political maneuver sells out the province’s future for the sake of the Liberals’ political present.

“Selling valuable public lands in a fast-growing community like Surrey simply makes no sense. Surrey has been adding 10,000 residents per year for decades, yet the Liberals seem to have no thought for Surrey's future needs.”

A 15-acre parcel on Panorama Drive, originally earmarked for expansion of Surrey Memorial Hospital, is one of more than 100 public assets on the chopping block, as the government struggles to balance its 2013/14 budget.

“It's clear the government has put itself in a very poor negotiating position when everyone knows it is desperate for the revenue,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “It is yet another example of poor fiscal management from the B.C. Liberals, like selling the furniture to buy groceries.”

With an astounding $4.1 billion residing in B.C. Hydro’s deferral accounts, and the reckless spending of $26 million on partisan advertising, the Liberal government is imposing long-term problems on the province for the sake of their own short-term electoral prospects.

This is not the first time the Liberal government has proposed a fire sale of public assets: earlier in 2012, they attempted to sell the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch, which would have eliminated another source of sustainable revenue for the province. Quick fixes and bad decisions by the B.C. Liberals – from B.C. Rail to the HST – are continuing to cost British Columbians.

British Columbians deserve better. Rather than politically-motivated quick fixes, B.C.’s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.