Our Dangerous Government and Its False Image
On March 14 this year, I attended a "fireside chat" with BC Attorney General David Eby, hosted at the Vancouver Club. The format was a Q&A. Interviewer Shauna Sylvester, repeatedly lavished worshipful praise all over Eby, while lobbing softball questions to him. (One of her "tough" ones, which took Eby into a studied moment of deep introspection, was: "Tesla or Bike?" (I would tell you how he answered, but who cares?). There were no real issues raised.
In the final ten minutes of the "chat", Ms. Sylvester invited questions from the audience. Oddly, she stipulated that questions would be only be taken three at a time. The result, (which now looks planned), was a dog’s breakfast of questions and mostly superficial answers. This whole "chat" was a carefully choreographed and controlled show, put on for Eby's progressive sycophants and their fawning useful idiots in the media, designed to portray this government as competent, moderate, liberal and reasonable.
The reality is that this NDP/Green coalition is not any of those things. Rather they are hard left and ideological, they are determined to hurt people they believe are not their supporters, and they have fumbled or tried to manipulate a lot of files.
The coalition has demonstrated their true selves with laws, policies and practices which: 1. unfairly discriminate against certain groups of people in our Province in order to provide targets for the mob element in the socialist constituency, 2. Limit and stifle dissenting voices, using laws, (surprise!) which favour their own propaganda campaigns, 3. limit freedoms, for example, by threatening all access to private medical care and in the process restricting patients' choices, on the premise that no one should be able to avoid the public queue or their place in that queue, (except, of course, that NDP pets get to jump that queue), 4. foster divisiveness for political gain, evident in their centering out of property owners, business owners and monied immigrants, (read Chinese) as class enemies, 5. outrageously favour organized labour (their traditional supporters) to the detriment of consumers, non-union workers and companies, 6. Destroy businesses and threaten jobs with ill-considered and arbitrary burdens on employers, like the EHT, 7. direct unlimited amounts of public cash and human resources to unnecessarily use up precious court time, obscure issues and draw out processes, in lawsuits against them, thereby maximizing litigation costs and delaying justice for their opponents in an attempt to break them, and 8. generally punish their political opponents, favour their supporters and foster division in our society. In a page taken from George Orwell, these radicals are masters of doublespeak and misdirection, mischaracterizing reality to obscure their actual actions. The Greens recognize that most of this is wrong, but they hold their noses and see their capitulation as distasteful compromise which is necessary to secure their own radical ends.
This government has destroyed the housing market in British Columbia under the guise of making it fairer and more affordable. The market value of the approximately one million private dwellings in the Lower Mainland has fallen by up to 30% since mid 2017, even though the lower priced end of the market has seen increases in price. This represents a collective loss to property owners of at least $100 Billion Dollars and probably much, much more. Is there any change whatsoever to affordability? Sure! It's worse! There has been lots of press on this recently.
Sylvester raised none of this.
I asked whether Eby planned to rebate some of the "school tax" property owners are being charged, in light of the fact that the values on which our "school tax" was based are evaporating. He answered, “No. And I would love to have your windfall."
Well, I have never realized any such "windfall". I am tied by family and other bonds to live in my present home (or to replace it with another one at comparable cost). So I cannot pocket any gain, whether I sell this home or not. And even if it was somehow justifiable to tax me on a theoretical, unrealized "windfall", market volatility plays havoc with home values. Because of volatility in values, the amount of "school tax" we are being forced to pay is highly arbitrary.
Based on an article March 14th in the National Post, the value of my home has fallen at least 10% since the assessed value, (as of July 1, 2018), on which my "school tax" this year is based. (This is after a 20% drop from the 2017 assessment, and it continues to fall). The "school tax" payable on my home this year is therefore 25% higher than it would be if based on my home's current value.
Or take 1238 West 37th Ave., a particularly nasty example of the arbitrary and unfair reality of the "school tax". Assessed value July 1, 2018: $8,317,000; sold price Feb. 6, 2019: $5,500,000; "school tax" due this year: $19,268, (in addition to all other property tax). If calculated on sold value, school tax would have been $8,000, (again, no other property tax included).
$2,683,000 of the imaginary "windfall" has vanished, the "school tax" bill, so clearly arbitrary, is real and at least $11,268 of that tax is fake by any measure.
To support the "school tax" the NDP/Green government is actively encouraging the public to harbour a false class jealousy of property owners, playing on notions of income and wealth disparity and painting property owners as the rightwing ultra-rich. They ignore the more realistic measure of net worth. Leave it to the Ebys of the world to ignore the realities of income, debt and liabilities, superficially focussing only on alleged asset values, to determine whether someone is "rich". Property is wealth even if its value is exceeded by what you owe on it.
At a Point Grey town hall last summer, Eby falsely declared that many Point Grey property owners are "multi-millionaires".
His proof is that they were members of the Arbutus Club! Eby was plainly using this club membership as a dog whistle to stir other people to anger and jealousy. Take my word that most Arbutus Club members are not ultra-rich, we are mostly hard working, two income families who are in that club for our children's and grandchildren’s sake and because it is a community gathering place.
At the "chat", Eby unthinkingly doubled down on this "greedy money hoarder" description of property owners. He tried to explain his prior comment about Arbutus Club members being multi-millionaires by saying he had intended only to point out the difference between the venues at which he and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson had chosen to speak. But clearly that excuse only digs the hole deeper: he thinks Arbutus Club members are not just greedy money hoarders, but wrong thinking, right-wing greedy money hoarders. No other conclusion is possible from his "excuse". He has a subconscious disdain for property ownership and he cannot suppress it, (though he did say he enjoys talking to millionaires, so maybe he is just jealous).
The public needs to look past the haloes being painted onto this government by social media, conventional media and overly vocal left wing progressives. They are dangerous and bad for our Province and its economy.
Do you want to fight back against nasty politics in BC? A group of concerned BC citizens has coalesced to form a nonpartisan, non-profit society, the "Society To Encourage Political Understanding & Participation", i.e.,: STEPUP. I am one of its directors. One of our main purposes is to take a stand against unfair and indiscriminate use of power by government calculated to divide us. STEPUP has momentum and a dedicated cadre of volunteers. Thousands of supporters have taken an interest in STEPUP, many have donated. I encourage you to get involved. Sign up, speak up, STEPUP.
This article originally appeared in the Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners’ Association spring 2019 newsletter.