Pledge-only press conferences characterize BC NDP election efforts

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VICTORIA – The New Democrats made much of last week’s release of a “new BC flood strategy,” four years in the making, and its response to flood preparedness across the province.

“After decades of incremental approaches to flood management, we have worked with communities to develop BC’s first integrated vision for provincial flood preparedness,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Management.

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“British Columbia’s new flood strategy will guide our continued work with First Nations, local government agencies, the agricultural sector, industry and conservation organizations as we take action to reduce flood risk.”

That’s according to the government’s press release on Thursday.

My colleague Gordon Hoekstra better reflected the actual content of the announcement.

“The long-awaited flood protection strategy…provides no new funding mechanisms, cost estimates, project priorities or timelines,” he wrote in a front-page article in The Vancouver Sun on Friday.

The strategy, in process since 2020, was due to be presented last year, so it is already a year late.

However, there were no details on how “targets will be met, how billions of dollars in flood protection improvements will be paid for and there is no completion date for a critical province-wide flood assessment,” it reported. Hoekstra.

“To be fair, this is the first time we’ve done this,” Cullen pleaded.

Still, a flood management strategy with no costing, no funding mechanism, no priorities and no end date is not a plan… it’s a press release.

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The summary written by the government admitted that another round of “planning” will be necessary to decide where and when specific projects will be built. He also didn’t say how long it will take.

Although Cullen rejects “piecemeal approaches to flood management,” the statement lists some 50 projects that will be funded in the short term at a cost of $39 million.

Premier David Eby took up the issue of flood management the next day when he announced $14 million in provincial funding to cover part of the cost of replacing an old dam on Lake Cowichan.

The provincial proportion was already announced in the February provincial budget. But this being an election year, the New Democrats don’t hesitate to announce things more than once if they can get their way.

The dam also turned out to be a work in progress.

Important governance issues still need to be resolved with local Cowichan tribes. And when will that be resolved?

“We don’t have a specific answer yet,” admitted Minister Cullen. “We have a lot of very good lawyers working on this.”

Many lawyers working on it? Phew! That’s reassuring.

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During the press conference portion of Friday’s announcement, reporters pursued more fruitful lines of inquiry than how attorneys might be involved in accruing their billable hours.

The prime minister was asked about the recent stabbing in downtown Vancouver.

The defendant had previously been convicted of violating his probation by failing to attend psychiatric treatment on the same day he threatened to kill Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Did that make the Prime Minister hesitate about forcing people who need help to get it?

Not precisely. The premier sidestepped the circumstances of the case with a rather lengthy response about how involuntary care works in British Columbia, then explained that “one of the challenges our healthcare system has faced is an inadequate number of beds.”

This after almost seven years of NDP government.

Another journalist asked for comment on the case of the Tsawwassen man who suffered a stroke while driving through the Massey Tunnel and had to wait in vain for an ambulance on the side of the road.

Finally, the operator told him to drive himself to the hospital, which he was understandably reluctant to do. When he finally arrived at the hospital by taxi, he waited another six hours to see a doctor.

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The New Democrats had been working for almost two years to fix the ambulance service problem, Eby said.

“We know that the service is not yet perfect and that there will be challenges,” he admitted, without exaggerating given the circumstances.

“We will continue to work with paramedics to ensure that people receive the response they deserve and are not left sitting on the side of the road waiting for attention. “When that happens, it’s everyone’s worst nightmare and it’s not acceptable to anyone, certainly not our government.”

Calling the situation “unacceptable” is Eby’s response when faced with the latest horror story about some area of ​​the NDP government’s responsibility.

It’s wearing out. Eby himself said he expected his administration to be judged by results – not promises or press releases – on his four big priorities: access to health care, public safety, housing affordability. and cost of living.

The NDP’s re-election strategy involves a near-daily release of ads, which too often consist of little more than a promise to do something on some indefinite day in the future.

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In recent times, journalists have been asking about other, more embarrassing matters. And when the Prime Minister says “unacceptable”, he is probably thinking about those questions, not the answers.

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