Saturday December 31, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
Editorial commentary by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
On this New Year’s Eve heading into 2023, political messaging is out there. As an overview, here are some of the key points.
Today Premier David Eby issued a year-end new year’s eve statement saying that BC “has much to be grateful for”, but meanwhile “faces challenges related to housing, a strained health care system, the effects of global inflation on the costs of everyday life, and people sick and struggling in the streets”. Read the full New Year’s Eve statement by BC Premier David Eby.
Since being sworn-in as premier on November 18 and announcing his Cabinet on December 7, Eby has often mentioned his own family and still makes the occasional reference to former Premier John Horgan (who continues to serve as an MLA).
So far Eby has shown some subtle differences between himself and his predecessor, mostly in having a bit of a harder edge for expecting results or for political impression.
- When announcing former Forestry Minister Katrine Conroy as his new Finance Minister, Eby referred to her background as a rancher, saying “she’s tough”.
- Eby shifted the former Agriculture Minister Lana Popham (a portfolio she relished and dearly loved) over to Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, with the tagline comment that BC will have a high profile in the national and global sports arena over the next few years (Popham will look good for the cameras and think fast on her feet).
- Eby gave the new Housing ministry to Ravi Kahlon (former Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister) with high expectations — a media scrum right after being sworn-in, a downtown Eastside announcement on Dec 15, and between Christmas and New Year an announcement about expanding the Residential Tenancy Branch staffing contingent.
Some of Eby’s attention to Cabinet appointments was deeply thoughtful to the longer-term. As a key example, Selina Robinson was plucked out of the Finance Minister’s role to instead head up the Post Secondary and Future Skills ministry (formerly Advanced Education and Skills Training). There’s a lot of nuance in that change of ministry name and minister.
Robinson had just completed a day-long deep-think with economists and ESG leaders in early December (attended by Island Social Trends), hearing much about the need to reskill the BC workforce and make some potentially stark changes in expectation and delivery of post-secondary education in BC. While on the surface some called the portfolio shift a ‘demotion’ for Robinson, it actually indicates the depth to which Eby understands the complexities of moving BC forward in the next decade, and that he has entrusted the educational and workforce shift of that to Robinson who as finance minster saw and guided the broadest scope of government management.
On this New Year’s Eve, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix says he “welcomes the action taken by the federal government to protect Canadians from COVID-19 by requiring passengers arriving on flights from China, Hong Kong and Macao to produce a recent negative COVID-19 test result“. This is in the wake of China having recently lifted its zero-COVID lockdowns with the result of COVID now spreading throughout its population (their vaccines are not as up to date as in the western nations, and variants of concern may yet arise).
“The Public Health Agency of Canada is implementing a pilot project with Vancouver International Airport on wastewater testing from aircraft to assess the COVID-19 prevalence from various regions around the world and monitor for novel variants of concern,” it was stated in a BC Health COVID news release Dec 31, 2022.
This is a somewhat unsettling shade of the (recent) past two year-ends when COVID was a dominant concern for the BC and Canadian population. A massive COVID immunization campaign during 2021 and 2022 had hopefully put that virus into the back seat lumped in with other respiratory illnesses of the winter season, but this is a reminder that things can still suddenly change.
Earlier this month, BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said she was pleased with Eby’s new Cabinet directions.
Fundraising at year end: as of December 30, the BC Greens had surpassed the one million dollar mark, on their way to raising $1.3 million for all of 2022. They’re still $294,000 short, according to information from the party sent by email.
Most Canadians continue to underestimate the political dynamics of having 25 NDP MPs in the House of Commons (and just 24 before the 2021 fall election).
During the pandemic the NDP were instrumental in making sure that the CERB program happened and that it met the level of minimum cost of living for most Canadians who had to diminish or forfeit work during the initial year(s) of the COVID pandemic.
At this year-end, the NDP are listing their accomplishments as “dental care for kids, $500 to pay rent, doubling the GST credit, more affordable homes, investigation into grocery prices, 10 paid sick days, anti-scab legislation, $10/day child care, no more interest on student loans, tax on big banks making massive profits”.
Middle-range earners might wonder about the benefits to them (as dental care, rent payment, and GST credit doubling are for Canadians at the very lowest of income levels). But strengthening the lowest rung does, in the mid-to-long term, produce fewer challenges for marginalized people which often translates into a healthier and therefore more reliable workforce. Keeping everyone stable helps the whole.
The Conservative Party of Canada is just starting to settle into the new reality of party leadership under Pierre Poilievre who as now the Leader of the Official Opposition is getting in his jabs against the prime minister and the Liberal government.
Poilievre does seem to ‘get’ the many undercurrent of frustrations among working Canadians, and it appears that’s the angle he will use as leverage in the new year as he attempts to chip away at the all-important urban voter base (in terms of winning seats) across the country.
Prime Minister and federal government:
In his new year’s message, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that with the peak crisis of the COVID pandemic behind us as a nation, that the economy has reopened with “one of the strongest economic recoveries in the G7 – creating more jobs than we lost to the pandemic”.
Trudeau said that the Government of Canada “will continue to build an economy that works for all Canadians”, highlighting investments in critical minerals and manufacturing in support of electric vehicle production and use in Canada (part of greening the economy and helping the environment) and how that will contribute to job creation.
He mentioned making “communities safer by strengthening gun control” and that the Liberal government “will continue to be there for people by making life more affordable” (even though most of the ideas come from and are pressured along by the NDP, and that the government has virtually no control over inflation or interest rates).
Trudeau’s message for the new year mentioned the war in Ukraine: “We have been there to support the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country.” Canada is making a significant financial contribution to Ukraine and along with NATO allies is making a notable international political contribution.
The war in Ukraine is a key contributor to rising inflation. “As global inflation drove up the cost of living, we delivered much-needed relief to those (in Canada) who need it the most – to help with groceries, rent, child care, and to ensure kids get the dental coverage they need,” said Trudeau in his year-end news release. | Read the full New Year’s Eve statement for 2023 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. | Trudeau also did pre-taped year-end interviews with TV media (being aired over this weekend by various outlets).
Local shifts in 2022:
The aftermath of the October 2022 municipal election cycle is starting to sink in for the Greater Victoria region. Cities in the Capital Regional District including Victoria, Saanich, Colwood, Langford and View Royal now see new leadership at the helm.
The knock-out punch of losing three westshore mayors (Stew Young in Langford, David Screech in View Royal and Rob Martin in Colwood) is sinking in for residents and businesses, and a wide range of decision-making temperaments shift around the tables of various boards and committees including about issues of water management and transportation.
Despite any specifics of the campaigns or leadership of the mayors that have left the active political scene, the voter choice clearly unleashed some anger that had built over the long term against various directions in municipal management including actions taken around housing, environment, and transportation.
Housing stalled for over a decade, says Premier (Dec 15, 2022)
New BC Cabinet announced by Premier David Eby (Dec 7, 2022)
Economists see housing and risk-vs-uncertainty as key challenges in 2023 (Dec 6, 2022)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news service that covers news of the west shore, south Vancouver Island, BC and national issues.
Island Social Trends launched entirely online at islandsocialtrends.ca in mid-2020, in the footsteps of its predecessor publications MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Editor and publisher: Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | ARCHIVES: TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION | VANCOUVER ISLAND
Island Social Trends posts daily on Twitter @IslandSocTrends for a regional, BC and national audience; for the west shore audience we also post on Facebook at @IslandSocialTrends.