OUR VIEW: Take ICBC to the junk yard and start over

OK – remember that scene in the French Connection? One of the great movie car races. Now think about ICBC and the NDP. We’re about to start that race if the NDP doesn’t wake up and smell the burning rubber right now.

The Liberals fouled up the whole ICBC situation. They kept kicking the can into the next year of their 16-year reign, assuming some ICBC magic fairy would fix things for them. Or, more likely, how to blame the whole mess on the previous NDP government – which would be very hard to do, but not out of character in politics.

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But they lost. So, now they’re trying to blame the NDP for not fixing the mess in their first six months of government. And it’s a very big mess – a $1.3 billion-in-the-red mess. No one’s buying their attempts to blame the NDP. Well, perhaps some diehard Liberal fans are buying it – but no one else is. So, what’s the NDP to do?

Raise rates and tweak things and push the whole thing over to next year, like the Liberals did? Sorry, that’s already been tried.

That’s where our car race analogy comes in. Once the NDP starts driving with this bunch of empty tin cans tied to their bumper, they are doomed. And so are the taxpayers who pay for ICBC.

There is only one exit ramp here and the NDP needs to take it as quickly as they can.

The NDP needs to develop a plan to dissolve ICBC as soon as possible and institute a private system of vehicle insurance as many provinces in Canada have done.

Yes. It will be messy. Yes, the unions who have members working in ICBC will be displeased. Yes, it may take a couple of years to fully finish the job. And, yes, ICBC needs to be completely gone – not left as part of a subsidized portion of the new system.

For those in the NDP who see killing ICBC as giving in to the age-old argument that private enterprise can operate services more efficiently than government – just get over it. This is not that hill to die on.

This is not health care. This is a lesson in private enterprisers who were in government who could not manage the operation. It’s a tale of lawyers who became attached to a never-ending bucket of business. It is also recognition that cars, like phones, have now become very expensive to repair. So expensive that it’s easier to junk them than fix them.  

The NDP needs to fix the mess they inherited. And there is only one way to do that, uncomfortable as it is. And the sooner the better.

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