Libs' priorities: My, how they have changed
The 'new' premier fights small biz, courts Musqueam
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Any politician's priorities can turn upside down to suit the times and circumstances.
But when it comes to Premier Gordon Campbell's agenda, two days last week showed just how dramatically things can change.
On Wednesday, the Campbell government's lawyers lost their attempt to quash a compensation lawsuit by one of the dozens of Cambie Street merchants whose businesses have been devastated by Canada Line construction.
On Friday, Campbell announced a land deal to give the Musqueam Indian Band the UBC Golf Club and part of Pacific Spirit Park in a "reconciliation agreement."
If you'd told me a few years ago these would be Campbell's priorities today, I'd have wondered what your were smoking.
Consider the irony of Campbell fighting small businesses impacted by a public megaproject. Cambie Street merchants have lost an average of $112,000 each because of Canada Line construction chaos and the Campbell government has refused to compensate them.
It was a different story when the Liberals were in Opposition.
When the NDP government built the Millennium Line SkyTrain extension, many impacted businesses complained -- and the Liberals stood up for them.
"These people have invested their life's dreams and all their money in these places," said then-Liberal-MLA Christy Clark.
But the NDP refused to compensate the Millennium Line businesses -- something Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon wasn't afraid to point out on Thursday.
"They did nothing when they were in government," Falcon lectured.
So two wrongs make a right, eh? Now the Liberals spend your tax dollars on lawyers to fight the very businesses they supported in the past.
At least Clark hasn't betrayed her principles, and now supports compensating the Cambie merchants. Campbell should take a look in the mirror and do the same.
The premier's change is even more stark on the First Nations file.
In 2002, Campbell held a "legally binding" referendum in which 95 per cent of voters said public parks should not be ceded to First Nations in treaty settlements.
Now he's given portions of Pacific Spirit Park to the Musqueam -- a First Nation Campbell fought fiercely when they imposed 7,000-per-cent rent hikes on non-native leaseholders in the 1990s.
"Here the Musqueam have gone ahead and done something without any representation from any of the people," Campbell fumed back then.
Now the same criticism could be levelled at his surrender of the golf course and parkland without public input -- decisions, like the betrayal of the Cambie businesses, the "old Campbell" would have scorned.
Â©Â The Vancouver Province 2007