Sunday, February 19, 2017

Discussion topic: Why should we vote NDP?

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the Clark regime, and as seems to be the case with every election in recent years, I'm struggling to figure out who I will mark my ballot for.  I suspect that I'm not alone.

Liberal fans at least have the government's track record (alleged or otherwise) to point to when making their case, but what can the NDP do to sell their brand?  Can a member of the party faithful step up and make the case for voting NDP? Jim Hanson? You out there?

All that I ask is that we avoid rehashing events of twenty or thirty years ago - the fast ferries are ancient history, as is Vanderzalm.  Even Gordon Campbell is arguably now irrelevant. And let's agree that "Well, we're not the Liberals" is not really a valid argument either.  Let's try to keep the discussion to what's happening now, and to concrete policies.

I'm ignoring the Greens right now. Although they actually have had excellent candidates in recent elections, and I've even voted for some of them, they don't have a realistic chance of forming a government.

Then again, you can argue that neither does the NDP.


Hazen Colbert said...

The Liberals have done a good job balancing the budget yet at the cost of undue hardship to the working poor and to seniors who do not own homes.

The failure to invest in roads, bridges etc and the inability to amalgamate municipalities have led to a 1950s style of local government and a Swiss cheese of discombobulated efforts to attract business investment, which has resulted in the lowest wages of any similar sized economic region in Canada by a long shot.

In addition the myopia of relying on speculative real estate transactions has resulted in public and health policy decisions being crowded out by real estate greed such as the closure of schools to sell them to Liberal financier Bob Rennie's real estate cronies, and the displacement of critical health care infrastructure such as moving St. Paul's Hospital in favour of real estate flipping.

There is no vision or leadership in Victoria. Like Alain Vigneault when he coached the Canucks here, the Christy Clarke Liberals play every game for the tie, hoping they are playing in the weakest division in Confederation and standing pat will get them into the playoffs. We can set the bar higher.

Anyone but Cbristie Clarke.

Anonymous said...

Response to Colbert.

"The Liberals have done a good job balancing the budget".

There are 2 budgets, they are "operating" and "capital". Operating budget pays for one year of operating the government (salaries, benefits, consumables etc). The Capital budget (which is usually borrowed money) pays for roads, bridges etc.

The "balanced budget" referenced by Colbert is only an operating budget figure. It is said to be $3.5 billion in surplus.

Meanwhile, the capital budget is $66.4 billion in debt, or approx. $14,000 for every man, woman, and child in BC. In order to build more roads and bridges even more debt would need to be accrued. See the BC debt clock at:

This is something like saying, our family has $100,000 on a credit card (which attracts interest and has a monthly payment) but we have $5000 in our savings account. So we have $5000 surplus money that we can spend on anything we want. Not really. If you put the $5000 down on your total debt you would still be $95,000 in the hole and still making payments and attracting interest.

The "government surplus" is a simplistic ploy to fool the gullible public.

The shame of it is that the NDP, like the federal Liberals, would borrow like drunken sailors to fund their programs and drive us even further into the hole. A day of reckoning will come when we have to pay it back and/or cut programs (see federal Liberals in the 1990's) to avoid going bankrupt.

So, for me I will vote for the least financially reckless party which, regrettably is the provincial Liberals.

Anonymous said...

"The failure to invest in roads, bridges etc and the inability to amalgamate municipalities..."

Hmmm. Municipalities can amalgamate if they want, the BC Libs decided back in '05 that they were not going to force amalgamations. There has been a massive investment in roads and bridges in the province the likes of which has not been seen since WAC Bennett.

Anonymous said...

The cheap daycare plank may resonate well in areas that the NDP can grab seats such as Surrey & Delta where there are a ton of young families and the NDP were within striking distance (Tynehead, Delta North, Fleetwood), but I suspect the BC Libs are in for a fairly big win, including all four North Shore seats again.

My long time prediction has been that Horigan will win his own seat but lose the Provincial without much change. He will attempt to hold on to power like Mulcair and it will leave the NDP mired in indecision and broke, the Great White Hype Gregor will publicly express his frustration and a year into the new mandate Gregor will attempt to create VisionBC to combat the BC Libs, he will promise Big promises and will probably win with the green, labour, and social progressives all under the Gregor tent.

Just a prediction. :)

Anonymous said...

Barry asks, "Let's try to keep the discussion to what's happening now, and to concrete policies."

So what is happening now is that the budget isn't really balanced, and municipalities can amalgamate if they want (NV City doesn't want to) so that is not prevented by the province. And the Liberals have a massive investment in roads and bridges.

So much for facts vs opinions. Hopeful politicians have to say something but it is better if the comments are grounded in facts.

My question is which party wants to build infrastructure and increase employment and ongoing tax revenue while balancing that with responsible environmental stewardship?

I think that the Libs are better at building infrastructure and the NDP are better at protecting the environment. Given the need to do both I would lean to the Liberals.

Barry Rueger said...

1) Is it possible that the NDP need to be proactive and create their own original policies instead of just being reactive, complaining about anything that the Liberals do?

2)"My question is which party wants to build infrastructure and increase employment and ongoing tax revenue while balancing that with responsible environmental stewardship?"

Isn't it possibly to have a strong economy that isn't predicated on resource extraction and overseas sales of raw resources? I was reading just yesterday that wind generation now surpasses hydro in the US, with oil country Texas leading the way. Maybe government money should be moving us ahead of the curve instead of chasing LNG? Or maybe LNG should be expected to operate without a government handoute

Anonymous said...

Yes Barry, it is possible to have a strong economy from many sources. High tech, consulting, manufacturing, retail, artisan products, agriculture, materials - lots of areas. All resources are in too and as you propose, energy is one of the economic drivers. Hydro, wind, gas, oil are all potential sources.

Access and transportation of any product with adequate environmental protection is very important and in the public interest.

Maybe we can safely pursue many alternatives without having to abandon some options in order to be politically in step with a particular philosophy?

Hazen Colbert said...

Anon 10:14

The "capital budget" is neither in surplus or deficit.

When $10 billion is targeted for the building of a highway, the $10 billion does not disappear. An asset worth $10 billion is created - the highway, and a financial liability of $10 million in debt exists. The annual interest payment on the debt becomes an operating budget item.

If a family owns a house valued at 1,500,000, has credit card debt of $100,000 and $5,000 in a bank account, the family has no surplus or deficit. What they have is $1,505,000 in assets, $100,000 in debt and equity of $1,405,000. If they sell the house, pay off the debt and move into a smaller home worth 800,000 they have over $500,000 to spend, ignoring transaction costs.

Debut used to acquire or build assets is a normal aspect of a modern economy. For instance the Province might borrow $10 billion to build a hydroelectric dam. At completion it costs $50 million per year to operate the dam. But the electric power is sold for $250 million per year.

In Year One of completion, the Province has an asset of $10 billion and a liability of $10 billion. Each year the dam earns a profit of $200 million per year. The dam will last for 70 years.

Ignoring the time value of money only for simplicity, after 70 years that dam will have generated $14 billion in profit paying off the $10 billion in debt and leaving us ahead by $4 billion.

Please excuse any typos. This blog uses 4 pt font, Even with 20/20 vision it is hard to read the type :-)

Anonymous said...

Response Mr. Colbert,

The accumulated funding borrowed to meet each annual budget, both capital and operating, plus accumulating interest is the provincial debt.

In our case, as the operating budget is currently balanced, the majority of annual additional debt on top of past debt is from capital expenditures and interest.

Interest is paid on the debt only to the extent that interest expenditure is approved by government. Interest may be partially paid or not paid at all and allowed to accrue at the decision of the government in power. Deferring interest payments is a method of keeping a lid on public taxes in order to curry favour with the electorate. The debt will grow and eventually need to be paid (and therefore taxes increased, public assets sold off, a new tax imposed and/or services reduced) in order to avoid bankruptcy.

The assets constructed through capital spending depreciate annually. These assets will be maintained through the operating budget. Ultimately the asset will either require major additional capital funding for refurbishment or entire replacement.

Think of selling an old bridge for scrap. Pennies on the dollar for an old ferry. Destruction and replacement of a police station, library, fire hall, rec centre etc. The depreciated value of the asset does not equal the original cost of the same asset which is often borrowed money added to the debt which then attracts interest.

Your analogy of a family "owning a house" is a skewed example due to our appreciating real estate market. My example was not skewed as it did not include a real estate asset. Let's say the $100,000 credit card debt in my example was the result of the purchase a car and a boat - both depreciating assets. Then the debt ($100,000) is the entire purchase cost (plus interest) and the assets will eventually be worthless. This is a more realistic analogy to public spending.

If it took a reader 3 minutes to read and consider this post the BC debt will have increased by approx $15,000 in that time.

Readers can satisfy themselves. Watch the BC debt grow at:

Debt is a part of the BC budget. At $66 billion public debt and growing, only a politician could tell us that the government has done a good job of balancing the budget.

And if the NDP gain power I fear that reckless spending will greatly increase public indebtedness. There is no free ride.

Anonymous said...

You two are missing the point. BC has a triple A credit rating because at any point the Province of BC owns enough saleable assets to cover their public debt. The Province owns just under 100 million acres of unencumbered land that it could sell for a trillion dollars(with a T) at around $10,000/acre which is pretty rock bottom liquidating pricing when you consider their North Van holdings are valued at 6 million dollars an acre. So yes, we can easily cover our debt.

Yes, we need to manage debt as increasing servicing costs will eventually reduce our ability to meet our own needs. But we are well within our ability to manage the debt that we have. In fact, BC is the best positioned province and is the only one with a Triple A from all three major ratings agencies. (Saskatchewan is missing one jewel on the triple crown but they will join us later this year). Alberta is now double A.

Hazen Colbert said...

Anon 8:02

So if I understand you this is what you are saying:

Your son has graduated high school and wants to attend university.

To attend university he will need to borrow $5,000 a year for 4 years, total $20,000.

You say to him, "Do not go into debt, at the end of 4 years all you get is a piece of paper."

Your must stay out of debt. Debt is bad.

Your son says "But dad if I graduate I get a good job and pay off the debt."

You say, "Get a good job now, and then you have a good job and no debt." And you smile because with your plan at least your son will never need your help in paying off his debt.

Deficits are not created by debt and overspending. They are created by taxes and user fees that are too low. At the federal level our good Prime Minister Trudeau will begin to remedy that problem this year by closing loopholes, raising taxes on large corporations and the wealthy and putting an end to the corporate welfare bums. And if he take's Bill Gate's to heart, we will soon start taxing robots that replace humans.

I do not support increasing taxes but to ensure your model of "no debt" you seem to agree with increased taxes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Colbert.

Your example is facile and intended to be ridiculous. Putting words in someone else's mouth is not my expertise.

Briefly, no person, government or country can go into perpetual increasing debt without eventually going bankrupt. That is not a difficult concept. Argentina went bankrupt, Zimbabwe will go bankrupt, cities in the US have gone bankrupt.

I already outlined some of the outcomes of perpetual increasing debt - The debt will grow and eventually need to be paid (taxes increased, public assets sold off, a new tax imposed and/or services reduced in order to avoid bankruptcy).

Yes, the previous poster is correct. Public sector budgeting separates land from "improvements" (meaning buildings and other construction). If we want to sell a non-renewable resource (ie land) we can meet some debt obligations. The District made a major policy statement against relying upon public land sales to meet budgets and debt obligations. If the government wants to revisit that decision they certainly can. And it will work. ONCE.
When the land is gone, it's gone. My reference was borrowing for capital improvements - things that are built - not land as that is a separate line item.

I have been discussing the debt, not the annual deficits. Entering into a discussion implying they are one in the same is not helpful.

I will be very pleasantly surprised if Trudeau is able even meet, much less reduce, his wild spending spree and we shall see.

Operating and capital costs for the same items have increased for decades. If you are not a fan of raising taxes then you are either a fan of reducing services, selling public assets or going bankrupt.

There is no free ride.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Trudeau's "wild spending spree" is exactly what the country needs.

The private sector invests in machinery and equipment, sometimes buildings. Not people.

Governments must invest to create jobs, good jobs. We have low incomes here due to a lack of government investment. And not enough government employment.

I will be voting NDP with the expectation of additional spending and good jobs and futures for my children. Wealthy people and corporations will be paying higher taxes. They will just have to suck it up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a great plan. Wild government spending. More "government" jobs. Wealthy people and corporations will just have to suck it up. What if they don't and they move?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:37 -- it is, of course, possible that Anon 12:48 is just being facetious.
I think I'm most comfortable believing THAT.
HaHa good one 12:48!!

Anonymous said...

One hopes.

I despair that the public is fooled by politicians that promise "more". If taxation isn't increased to fund the "more" then it is borrowed and added to the debt. They call this "kicking it down the road". Get elected now and have someone else responsible for your spending in the future. Old trick that seems to always fool some of the people all of the time. All parties guilty but some more than others. Notably federal Libs and provincial NDP worst offenders and provincial Libs moderate offenders.

The last time I remember a Canadian province paying off their debt was Alberta in 2013. Of course, they then issued bonds which plunged them back into debt. At least the debt retirement fund, commenced by Premier Klein, did it's job for a brief moment before they went back down the debt rabbit hole.

Anonymous said...

Quick clarification. Should have read, "Notably current federal Libs". The Libs with Paul Martin did a fantastic job of debt reduction.

Anonymous said...

The fact Horgan's platform involves "The Leap Manifesto" means if we vote NDP, or Green, we vote Green (in a bad way). Plug your nose and vote Liberal. When will the BC Conservatives EVER get their act straight? BC is caught in between a rock and a hard place.

Anonymous said...

Leap Manifesto... a portmanteau of the Great Leap Forward and the Communist Manifesto. Two failed systems that killed millions of people. Brilliant.