Liberals target independent voices in secretive core review

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VICTORIA– The B.C. Liberal government is continuing down the road of silencing independent voices and bringing decision-making closer to the cabinet table with changes to the Pacific Carbon Trust and the Provincial Capital Commission under the core review, say New Democrats.

“The government is saying this is a decision about money, but the truth is there is a lot of other low-hanging fruit in this government. If the Liberals are serious about cutting waste in government, the first thing on the chopping block should have been excessive government advertising and bloated executive salaries at B.C. Ferries,” said New Democrat core review critic Shane Simpson.

“Ignoring these obvious first steps doesn’t give me confidence that the government has learned its lessons from its first disastrous core review. Instead, they’re using this review as a cover to make major changes to how decisions are made in this province, concentrating power in cabinet where, frankly, they haven’t done a good job in looking after the public interest.”

Simpson added that more questions than answers remain about the government’s core review process, including which stakeholders are being consulted, how decisions are being made, and why the government has been so secretive about how the review is proceeding.

“If we knew more about the plan and process for this review, for example, we would know whether we can take seriously Minister Bennett’s suggestion today that the Agricultural Land Commission is not going the way of the Pacific Carbon Trust and Provincial Capital Commission. As it is, we don’t know what’s around the corner, so we don’t know whether the government is going to find another way to implement its secret plan to dismantle the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said Simpson.

“In order for British Columbians to feel confidence in this review, there needs to be evidence, analysis and due diligence linked to these decisions. Today, we did not see any of these things.”

New Democrat environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert noted that today’s announcement that the Pacific Carbon Trust will be rolled into government won’t fix this broken system.

“The Liberals haven’t solved the problems they created at the Pacific Carbon Trust.” said Chandra Herbert. “They must stop forcing colleges, universities and hospitals to subsidize big, profitable companies through this scheme. Polluters should pay, not public institutions and the people who rely on them.”