The 24-hour news cycle doesnt favour long-term memory. The continuing fallout from the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, barely registered a blip in the mainstream media by the time the U.S. Senate snuffed a tepid gun control bill in April. Similarly, the February meteorite that lit up Russian daytime skies with the energy of several Hiroshimas came and went like a firefly compared to the weeks-long gigawattage of the Gangnam Style video by the Korean rapper Psy.
As for Fukushima, some may have to wrack their memories for a reference. Is that a brand of digital cameras or a roll of sushi?
The rewritten press releases, puff pieces and paper-thin investigative reports in most dailies do little to counter the average news consumer gnat-like attention span, shrunk to the length of 140 characters by social media. Still, even Im surprised how quickly the B.C. Liberals last big scandal vanished down the media memory hole, with local reporters trumpeting the partys recent surge in the polls.
In early March, Kim Haakstad resigned over a 17-page Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan that she helped draft as Premier Christy Clarks deputy chief of staff. Haakstad sent the document to several Liberals through her private Google email account. The secretive operation, with government money earmarked for partisan purposes, planned apologies to select ethnic groups for historical wrongs as a cynical ploy to win hearts and minds at the ballot box.
Clarks $11 million Bollywood film award fiasco in April looked a lot like an extension of an attempt to buy ethnic votes. Bottomless cynicism or out-of-control careerism? Either way, in the unlikely event the B.C. Liberals return to power, we can anticipate exactly what we experienced with Gordon Campbell three times in succession: a hazy memory of being wined and dined before waking up with a Sidney Crosby-sized headache and our undies around our ankles. Its impossible for me to list all the controversies connected with the partys 12-year reign. But for the benefit of our long-term memories, heres a partial list.
The B.C. Liberals: 1) Ripped up legally binding, negotiated contracts in the public sector; 2) Closed courthouses; 3) Rolled backed employment standards legislation; 4) Introduced a new $6 training wage at two dollars an hour lower than minimum wage; 5) Introduced a bill for reducing the minimum work age to 12 years; 6) Expanded provincial gambling; 7) Closed hospitals, cut beds and shut long-term care facilities; 8) Laid off nurses and health care workers and privatized services, 9) Handed Pharmacare and MSP operations over to a U.S. firm, Maximus, which had been fined twice for failing to reach contractual targets; 10) Shut down or reduced funding for independent offices like the provincial Ombudsman, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Elections B.C.
Whew. Hang on, 10 more
11) Cut air and water quality protection; 12) Gutted the Forest Practices Code; 13) Lowered standards for wildlife protection; 14) Presided over the expansion of industrial fish farms; 15) Eliminated the Independent Office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate; 16) Broke the promise not to introduce the HST and withdrew it only after massive public outcry; 17) Unveiled under-projected, treasury-sucking megaprojects, from the $900 million Vancouver Convention Centre to the $560 million renovation and retractable Asshat for B.C. Place; 18) Failed to resolve questions about the B.C. Rail sale, including the $6 million payout for Basi and Virks legal fees; 19) Failed to supply details on the funding cut to provincial drug safety evaluations by the UBC-based Therapeutics Initiative; 20) Recently approved a misleading print ad for 24 Hours designed to resemble a front page news story.
Clark recently ran a red light on a dare from her 11-year-old son, with a reporter present in her car. Although her automotive lesson in family values doesnt compare to Campbells conviction for drunk driving in Maui in 2003, its interesting that the B.C. Liberals reign could be bookended by irresponsible driving decisions. Whether or not you think the former talk radio host should be piloting a province, let alone a vehicle with a minor in it, there are at least 20 good reasons why her party should be pulled off the legislative road and slapped with a four-year driving suspension for DUIL (Driving Under the Influence of Lobbyists).