REALITY CHECK: Kevin Falcon’s Record on Rural B.C.: Economic Devastation, Broken Promises, Reduced Services

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Kevin Falcon, in pursuit of the B.C. Liberal leadership, is now trying to portray himself as a champion of rural B.C. Yet his record, as a minister and member of the B.C. Liberal cabinet, shows differently.

Far from recognizing that as home to the province’s resources, rural B.C. is the engine that drives British Columbia’s economy, Falcon has been part of the B.C. Liberal team that has abandoned the province’s rural regions; endorsing decisions that have cut services, and instituting policies which have devastated their economies.

The HST finds a champion in Falcon…

  • Despite committing to not introduce a harmonized sales tax, the B.C. Liberals introduced the tax shortly after the 2009 election. The tax affects many goods and services vital to rural residents and it has resulted in a loss of sales to small businesses in border communities where consumers are given a greater incentive to shop outside of British Columbia.
  • Kevin Falcon hasn’t only been an apologist for the HST lie, he actually urged the B.C. Liberals to reverse course on the HST, saying “I have been pushing a harmonized sales tax since I first got elected in 2001” (Hansard, 21 April 2010).

Economic devastation and neglect and Falcon’s level of concern…

  • Changes by the B.C. Liberals to the Forest Act resulted in the concentration of ownership in the forest industry, reducing competition in many regions and ultimately killing tens of thousands of well-paying, family-supporting jobs. Their policies have meant that job-intensive, value-added manufacturers have been unable to access fibre, leaving many smaller secondary manufacturers to reduce operations or close shop altogether. In the Interior, the B.C. Liberals have taken no action on mitigating the pine beetle devastation and their inability to act quickly cost the province $1 billion in promised federal transition funds.
  • Yet, “Boo hoo” was Kevin Falcon’s public response to forestry workers who lost their jobs (Hansard, 18 Feb. 2008).

BC Rail and other broken promises and reckless policies endorsed by Falcon…

  • Prior to the 2001 election, the B.C. Liberals promised they would not sell B.C. Rail. Ousted MLA Paul Nettleton revealed that plans were in place as early as 2002 to break that promise. Kevin Falcon, who emerged as a central figure in the B.C. Rail scandal, has been unapologetic about the B.C. Liberals breaking their promise to communities up and down the rail line.
  • Falcon also drove the B.C. Liberals’ de-regulation agenda, which saw the abandonment of rail safety rules. Derailments increased.
  • The B.C. Liberal cabinet that has counted Falcon as one its chief lieutenants has also failed to fulfill a host of other promises, such as twinning Highway 97 between Prince George and Cache Creek. The B.C. Liberals continue to promise that twinning, but the work is sporadic at best.

Cuts to health care…

  • Falcon was part of the team that reduced ambulance service in rural stations, and broke the promise to add 5,000 new long-term care beds: the latter has had a profound impact on rural B.C., with loved ones being forced to split up and seniors forced to moved from their homes.
  • When he wanted someone to start dismantling the public health care system, Gordon Campbell turned to his ‘golden boy’ Kevin Falcon, who on his first day as health minister said he supported private health care (Vancouver Sun, 25 June 2009), undermining the position of the government in an ongoing court case, and then went on to champion using our hospitals for medical tourism.