The forecast for the fall political season to come would appear to be much like the province's fall climate, stormy. That after the Campbell government's speech from the throne on Tuesday, which outlined a few of the directions that this Liberal government is planning on taking the province.
And that direction it would appear would be one of cost cutting and readjustments to expectations, that as the Provincial Liberals battle a skyrocketing deficit (one which will require some fancy rewriting of the "no deficit" provisions of Liberal dogma of late).
Public sector wage freezes, potential layoffs to come, program reviews and possible service delivery changes to such areas as health and education and crown corporation reviews were just some of the points outlined by Lt. Governor Steven Point Tuesday, in what has been described as a grim forecast for the short term financial picture in British Columbia.
It offers up a return to the early days of Gordon Campbell's Premiership, which we remember was highlighted by a rather intense review of all government departments and significant restructuring and cost cutting of the day.
Those days seemed to bring the province the closest it had come to the 1980's and the days of Bill Bennett vs the province's unions in what became a rather dramatic showdown under the Solidarity banner.
Since 2001, the Liberals were fortunate to benefit from a hot economy in their early mandates and thus were able to avoid that drama of the Bennett years, but Act II may provide for much of the same kind of drama, especially if the public service unions suffer the brunt of the government's cost cutting dedication.
While health and education are the natural sparks for any debate in British Columbia these days, we may see both of those potential storms calmed by the recent announcement of the adoption of the HST regimen for BC.
Should the Premier come out with a plan to use the 1.6 billion in Federal transition money to cushion the blow to those two key sectors of British Columbia society, he may find that the opposition to the HST drifts away. Even if it means as Micheal Smyth in the Province puts, being bribed with our own money.
Many will be outlining how the province's current economic misfortune is directly attributable to the Liberals rather hazy recollections over the last year of our true economic picture, (a situation that the Premier attributes to having been deceived by the economy) but with a four year mandate recently secured, it's doubtful that the Liberals and their leader will be losing much sleep over that bit of public bashing.
With four years to try and ride out the storm, offering up some of the bad news and hard decisions early in the mandate is probably their best strategy.
What remains to be seen is if British Columbians currently trying to cope with the declining economy and the impact of it on their lives, will have the time or inclination to join in on what could very well be a loud and angry coalition as the cuts and service adjustments manifest themselves over the next months and years.
Tuesday was really just the pre game show, next week comes Colin Hansen's budget, the true financial blue print for what the Liberals hope to implement and how they will bankroll all of it.
By this time next week we'll have a very good picture of where the province is going and with it what the reaction to those plans will be and how it will play out during this Liberal mandate.
Vancouver Sun-- Question is, how are you sleeping, Gordon Campbell?
Vancouver Province-- HST and government reviews highlight 'defensive' throne speech
Vancouver Province-- Throne speech highlights
Victoria Times Colonist-- Crown corp. reviews; civil servant wage freezes; cell phone restrictions for drivers
Victoria Times Colonist-- A gloomy start to the Liberals' term
Globe and Mail-- B.C. orders schools, hospitals to make cuts as it hunts for savings
Globe and Mail-- Deep cuts and nasty fights on B.C.'s horizon
The Tyee-- Students unhappy about throne speech
Georgia Straight-- B.C. Liberal government's throne speech opens new session of Parliament
The Northern View-- Throne speech highlights for the Northwest
Photo above from BC Government website