On bridges, bad governments, and false dichotomies
One of the most profoundly disturbing arguments I’ve heard from those who are calling for fixed links to the big island sets in place a false dichotomy between a bridge, and the current failed ferry system.
“We don’t actually want a bridge,” the argument goes, “but the government is never going to fix the ferry system, and anything, even a bridge, is better than that.”
This is alarming in part because it suggests surrender to the same sort of manipulation used when public services – such as health care – are starved by governments of the resources they need to work well, and the resulting bad performance is blamed on the fact that the services are public, not on malnourishment.
What is most disturbing about the argument however, is that it suggests that those who make it believe BC will never again have a good government.
Of course it’s been a very long time since BC actually HAD a good government. And British Columbians have always been somewhat divided on what such governments look like.
But I suspect most will agree good governments recognise one of the primary reasons for taxation is to create infrastructure that will support the economy; have enough intelligence to recognise when an experiment has failed; and have enough integrity to admit to their mistakes and correct them.
Few are left to argue that the Coastal Ferries Act was not a mistake. A recent poll showed only 11 per cent of British Columbians believe the Liberals are doing a good job with BC Ferries.
But this government continues to pretend BC Ferries is a private business for which government is not responsible, except for the times when it is forced by political expediency to admit that it is.
Given that this pretence has been proven to harm ferry-dependent communities and the entire BC economy, few are left to argue that is good governance either.
I understand why islanders are discouraged about their government, given the one we have now and the performance of the NDP in the last election.
But it is heartbreaking that ANY islander would feel so discouraged that they are willing to settle for fixed links instead. Especially links that might irreversibly damage the culture, economy, and environment of Gabriola and would certainly do huge harm to Mudge.
And if islanders surrender their right to good governance on this issue, what will we give in on next?
A bridge is not the solution to our bad government. Making the government do better is.
For Peace, Truth, and Justice,