Opinion: Repeat after me BC NDP: frustrating, unacceptable, outrageous

Opinion: BC NDP increasingly relies on rhetoric to mask its apparent inability to effect change

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VICTORIA – When video of open drug use emerged last week inside a Tim Hortons in Maple Ridge, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth responded with a show of outrage.

“It’s just disgusting,” he told Global BC on Friday. “People shouldn’t have to put up with that. Drug consumption should not, under any circumstances, take place inside a restaurant.”

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Farnworth cited the spectacle as one more reason why the New Democrats have been trying to restrict the open use of hard drugs, the same thing the province already does with alcohol and tobacco.

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Unfortunately for him, last week was another setback for the government.

The New Democrats passed enabling legislation last fall to crack down on open drug use near playgrounds, bus stops and other public spaces.

British Columbia Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson issued a temporary injunction against the legislation late last year, in a decision that effectively supported advocates of open drug use.

The New Democrats tried and failed to get the injunction lifted. Then, because it was set to expire last week, the court extended it until June 30.

Farnworth expressed disappointment at the extension, saying it was “absolutely frustrating. It is incredible that we cannot regulate where hard drugs are used; In my opinion, that’s crazy.”

Attorney Caitlin Shane of the Harm Reduction Nurses Association, which obtained the initial injunction, said the extension was by mutual consent of the parties, including the government.

The goal was to “maintain the status quo until the parties can appear for a request for interlocutory injunctive relief, which has not yet been scheduled. That injunction, if granted, would further block the law from taking effect pending a hearing on the merits.”

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The public probably agrees with Farnworth that the court’s reasoning is “insanity.”

But Prime Minister David Eby’s office is packed with half a dozen lawyers, including him and the head of the public service, not to mention all the other lawyers in the Ministry of the Attorney General.

However, despite months of preparation, all those lawyers were unable to present a law and defend it against the attack of an activist group without any of the legal resources of the government.

Farnworth had to call on his rhetorical skills again after a shooting in downtown Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, which scattered pedestrians.

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” he declared. “These people have no respect for anyone.”

Okay, yes.

But after nearly seven years as Minister of Public Safety and Attorney General, does Policeman Farnworth have anything more formidable in his arsenal than the ability to strike at just the right moment?

Another Cabinet minister who appeared to be leafing through the thesaurus for a suitable answer last week was Health Minister Adrian Dix.

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He was in Prince Rupert to address several emergency closures at the local hospital – eight in total during the month of March.

“You have to be open 24/7,” Dix admitted. “It is a matter of trust for the community. People here say they are afraid of getting sick, well we hear that. “I’m frustrated too.”

Listen to that, are you afraid of getting sick or waiting outside a closed emergency room? The health minister shares his frustration.

Dix, like Farnworth, has been in office since July 2017. He has presided over a massive increase in health care spending. He lately boasts that there are 45,000 more people working in the healthcare sector than he did when he took office.

The legions of British Columbians on waiting lists, still needing a family doctor, or waiting for the emergency room to be open tonight must be wondering where the hell all those thousands of healthcare workers are.

Lately, the Prime Minister has been playing with variations of “I feel your pain” to respond to horror stories from the health sector.

When asked about the man who suffered a stroke inside the Massey Tunnel and was left stranded on the side of the road waiting for an ambulance that never arrived, Eby said, “When that happens, it’s everyone’s worst nightmare. “It is not acceptable to anyone and certainly not to our government.”

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Then there was the case of the 87-year-old man who languished for nine days in a corridor at Victoria General Hospital.

Eby was outraged by that too.

“I’m really disappointed that this gentleman has had to go through this experience,” the prime minister said. “But for him and all British Columbians, we will work around the clock to make sure they get the health care they deserve.”

After a while, it’s as if the Prime Minister and his ministers are on a repetitive loop of responding to the latest failures and horror stories.

This one is “disappointing”. That’s “frustrating.” Over here, “scandalous.” Over there, the always useful “unacceptable”.

The only thing not heard is the recognition that the New Democrats have been on the job and responsible for public safety and access to healthcare for seven years. And despite Eby’s promise of results before the election, what they have mostly shown lately are excuses.

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