Our province’s esteemed finance minister, Kevin Falcon, showed his — and perhaps his government’s — true colours this week in his response to a report indicating that the gap between rich and poor is now larger in British Columbia than in any other Canadian province.
Apparently, that’s not a concern to Falcon, who reacted to the report from B.C. Stats by drawing a comparison with… ahem, Cuba. “I just have trouble with people saying, ‘Oh, because there’s a gap there, that must be a bad thing,” he told CBC News on Tuesday (Jan. 31). “You know, remember… and I’m not being flippant, but in Cuba they don’t have any income inequality because they’re all poor.”
Actually, for Mr. Falcon, it would be better if he WERE being flippant. That way we could pass off the comment as some sort of joke. But since he insists he was serious, we can take serious umbrage with his comment, which this writer regards as a sign that he either (a) doesn’t care about those struggling to make it in B.C., (b) that, by using one of the world’s most extreme examples to illustrate his point, he’s showing that his approach to governance is mostly based on ideology, not practicality, (c) he has lost touch with ordinary British Columbians, or (d) all of the above.
We get the point that an “income gap” isn’t all bad — that providing handsome salaries to CEOs and highly skilled professionals serves as an incentive to others to work hard to try to lift themselves up in society. We get the idea that a robust economy requires that government officials set taxation policies that attract and retain job-creating businesses and industries (and their good-paying jobs) without doing serious harm to those in the lower and middle-income brackets. It’s a delicate balancing act, to be sure.
But using the example of Cuba (read: capitalist good, commie bad) to dismiss a report showing that the gap between rich and poor is larger here than elsewhere in Canada reveals Mr. Falcon as an idealogue, not a pragmatist. In which ivory tower was he living when the “Occupy” protests were happening last year? If we were in his position, we might have responded to the B.C. Stats report with something like, “Well, there are positives and negatives to this sort of information…” and proceeded to lay out the arguments on both sides to the ledger.
Nobody — not Premier Christy Clark, not New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix and certainly not Conservative Leader John Cummins — wants to see B.C. emulate Cuba in any way, shape or form.
Ordinary British Columbians merely want a fair shake when it comes to government fees and taxation policy. The B.C. Stats report shows that after 11 years of Liberal policy-making, perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and needs a serious re-think — not laughably ignorant comments from the second-most powerful person in our provincial government.
— David Burke