British Columbians owe a great debt of gratitude to the premier, Christy Clark and Energy Minister Rich Coleman for the bold action of their Liberal government this week.
Not because they OVERRULED the BC Utilities Commission and DIRECTED it to set the increase in Hydro rates at 17% over the next three years … but because they EXPOSED for all to see the BIG LIE that so-called “INDEPENDENT” Commissions of various kinds and Crown Corporations of EVERY KIND in British Columbia are “INDEPENDENT” when it really comes down to it.
No more can Clark and her Cabinet ministers of any portfolio legitimately dodge responsibility and even comment on actions taken by those they have appointed by PRETENDING those appointees or boards or commissions are “independent” and can’t be interfered with or directed by government.
The move by the BC government in the case of the BC Utilities Commission stinks in so many ways.
None of us want to see our rates go up … but the mature, responsible way to evaluate the future needs of the province is by having an “independent” commission to take BC Hydro’s wish list, examine it, question it, analyse it and pare it down wherever possible, while assuring neither the utility nor the province (the taxpayers) go into deep future debt by failing to adequately cover future growth/expenses.
Unless you lead a failing, faltering government that must go to the polls in less than a year!
Then, apparently it’s okay to kick the “independent” commission to the curb, order an arbitrary-chosen limit on cost increases over the next three years … while, at the same by the way, limiting the price boost in the next year (BEFORE THE ELECTION!) to only 1.44 per cent … and then letting Hydro sock it to us AFTER we vote for another 15 per cent or so in the two years following!
How dumb, gullible do they think British Columbians are????
And as if POLITICIANS about to seek re-election setting the figure isn’t bad enough, Clark couldn’t even get Hydro’s figures right: the utility had said it felt a 37 per cent increase could be justified …and that’s what the “independent” commission was to examine (among a whole list of important Hydro issues) but, as Global’s Keith Baldrey so expertly and humourously showed, there was Clark repeatedly telling reporters Hydro wanted a 50 per cent increase, but the Liberal government would be protecting us from them!
She was either so badly misinformed and briefed on the topic or was wantonly delivering false information, maybe hoping no one would notice and it would make her government’s interference in the process even more defensible.
The cat is out of the bag; the horse has left the barn; the ship of “independence” has sailed … use any cliche you want to explain it, but the TRUTH is now exposed: it’s the BC government, BC Ministers, the Premier who hold the power and control of the decision-making process when it comes to setting Hydro rates … and also ICBC rates, BC Ferries rates etc … and not just when they want to or before a fast-approaching election.
So let’s not ever forget that: and let’s hope the media won’t let the government ever forget that, the next time a Minister or the premier tries to slide away from a controversy or an issue involving so-called “independent” Crown Corps, Boards or Commissions.
Like the Liquor Control Board!