REALITY CHECK: Who’s driving the bus on the TransLink referendum?

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For the second time this year, Premier Christy Clark is playing backseat driver on the Liberal government’s disjointed plan for a referendum on TransLink funding.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone was left with the uncomfortable task of contradicting the premier on virtually every point she made on the issue.

  • On the ballot question, the premier said definitively it will be a multiple-choice question. Stone said the question hasn’t been determined, and that it should not be multiple-choice.
  • On the date, the premier said it will be part of the municipal elections. Stone said the date hasn’t been set and will only be set in consultation with local mayors.
  • On the participation of the government, the premier said her government will be hands off, and “the people will decide.” Stone said he intends to work to have the referendum passed.

This is not the first time Premier Clark has been offside from her transportation minister on the reckless referendum plan. During the election campaign, it was then-minister Mary Polak saying the question would be multiple-choice, only to have the premier contradict her. Clark also said she favoured making ‘none of the above’ one of the acceptable choices, while the minister said the intent was to give lower mainland residents the choice of how new funding would be spent.

Perhaps most ironically, the premier has now come full circle by contradicting even herself. On Sept. 10, she told CKNW that local governments would be consulted before the referendum went ahead.

“The TransLink referendum is something that needs to be resolved by mayors. They need to come together with a proposal. They need to agree on it, and then we can put that forward to the public.”
-Premier Christy Clark, on CKNW, Sept. 10, 2013

Of course, today, it’s clear that even though the Metro Vancouver mayors have not agreed, the premier has already decided what voters will be choosing from, when they will do it, and how the results will be interpreted.

George-Heyman-pngQuote from New Democrat TransLink critic George Heyman: “What transit users and drivers of this region need are better transportation options, and what they’re getting is a series of contradictions from the people who are supposed to be in charge. There is clearly no plan, no co-ordination and no direction from the Liberals, who are ultimately responsible for this. This is doing nothing to ease congestion problems in this region, and we know that hurts the economy of British Columbia as a whole. The bottom line: if the Liberals can’t do a referendum properly, is it any wonder they’re failing to address the transportation problems in Metro Vancouver?”