Political photo ops herald season of windy pies and airy puddings
Dave Berner, The Province
Monday, October 06, 2008
Tis the season of the photo op. The premier is in full election mode. As my mother used to say, "It's all windy pies and airy puddings." Let's examine three recent announcements: community courts, home care and tolls.
With great fanfare and considerable hope, Judge Thomas Gove and Wally Oppal, who poses regularly as B.C.'s Attorney-General, announced the opening of the Downtown Community Court.
Anybody who has ever given a moment's thought to the failures of our criminal justice system had to applaud. Let's stop the useless cycle of incarcerations that lead only to better equipped criminals and sociopaths. Let's divert these addicts and others into treatment.
Ah, if only. Unfortunately, this is a house of cards.
Retired Justice Wallace Craig put it best in his recent column in the North Shore News.
"Set in a sterile and disused pre-trial jail behind the Criminal Court at 222 Main Street, the Downtown Community Court will be a revolving-door court for drug addicts, a finger-in-the-dyke experiment that lacks the critical support of detoxification and residential treatment premises." Another in the long line of silver bullets meant to save the DTES in a thunderclap. Won't happen. Not until the real resources are there to complete the picture.
The same song was hauled out when Mary Polak, B.C.'s Minister of Healthy Living and Sports, stepped before the cameras to announce the government will expand home care for seniors.
Again, a welcome and overdue notion. It is not only more cost effective to serve many elderly patients in their homes, but it adds considerably to their sense of independence and quality of life.
A no-brainer, apparently -- until you examine the fine print.
Polak told reporters the province has developed four cornerstones: developing "age-friendly communities," supporting volunteerism, promoting healthy lifestyles and supporting older workers. I guess that's like The Four Pillars and we know how successful that has been. Sounds very nice, but where are the real teeth and the real dollars? Let me assure you from doing years of volunteer work with seniors that home care IS essential, but it costs money. You must pay nurses and home-care workers to come to Ben or Gail's apartment and help them with bathing, groceries and house cleaning. That takes real budgets for the workers and the support staff who organize the clients and their needs.
There is nothing in this fatuous announcement that speaks to the real delivery of real service.
This leads us finally up the "Coke" to the now abandoned toll booths. One commentator called this latest "B.C. blacktop politics at its best." It's a transparent sop to Kelowna voters and the trucking industry, this does not sit well with city folk and those who will soon pay tolls on the newly-twinned Port Mann Bridge.
Turn off the bubble machine.