The BC NDP government is now in its third year of power and the items on the negative side of its political ledger are threatening to overtake the positives.
It's clear that the honeymoon phas is over.
Let’s start with the first real scandal to hit the government: the bolt-from-the-blue resignation of a cabinet minister who now finds herself the focus of an RCMP investigation.
That would be Jinny Sims, who was forced out of her citizens’ services portfolio Friday after it was revealed to Premier John Horgan that a special prosecutor had been appointed to oversee the investigation.
While Sims did not hold a major cabinet portfolio, it is never good for a government when the words “cabinet resignation” and “RCMP investigation” can be used in the same sentence.
Then there is the ongoing dumpster fire at ICBC, which threatens to burn holes in the NDP’s popularity.
The new auto insurance rate structure is suddenly hitting young drivers – or more accurately, their parents – with skyrocketing insurance premiums. Tales of young drivers being told they have to pay more than $5,000 to get around in their vehicles are popping up.
Exacerbating this controversy is that it is just beginning. Every month sees thousands of people renew their insurance and we are just one month into the new system.
Young people who need to drive to work or school because they do not have transit alternatives may be looking at adding $500 a month for car insurance to the $1,000 they pay for rent. Again, many parents will have to help pick up the tab and you can be sure they will be none too happy with the NDP.
The worsening crisis in the forest industry is threatening to wreak economic havoc on many small communities all over the province. Horgan’s recent speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities has been criticized because he made a number of jokes in front of an audience that contained many municipal politicians from those struggling communities.
Finance Minister Carole James’ budget forecasts the collection of almost $1.2 billion in forestry revenues and it is now difficult to see if she makes that target. She has already ordered significant belt-tightening across the board in order to save $300 million from a budget that is contracting because the economy is slowing down.
Finally, the NDP’s apparent endorsement of a plan to replace the Massey Tunnel with eight tunnels that will take a decade to complete will no doubt enrage thousands of commuters who live in critically important elector ridings in the southern suburbs, and who were no doubt expecting a much-quicker replacement project.
Yes, the negatives are quickly piling up. It will be quite the challenge for the NDP to manage them all as the next election – to be held two years this month – draws ever closer.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.