British Columbia , one of Canada’s largest Provinces on almost any measure, often , does not act like one.
In its obsession of staying in power at any cost the Provincial Government will go to almost any length to accomplish same.
The Government misled the people of the Province a few years ago about its position on the goods and services tax. It helped them get reelected.
The Government has continually misspoke about the Budget , claiming over and over again that it was or is balanced while the net debt each year has risen . It is the most brazen attempt to twist the basic financial facts of any Canadian Government.
Numerous other examples are readily available , not the least of which was the Government’s handling of the firing of a number of health public servants; missing files , etc; the whole nine yards.
Now , it has taken all of this double speak to a new level . Under pressure as a result of a hot real estate market it capitulates to political forces rather than show some leadership and explain clearly the problems inherent in taking discriminatory action to please the local population; brazenly imposing a tax , without consultation, on a select group of people covering a specific geographic area.
We are so quick to play the local preference card all the while sending trade missions all over the world bragging about how open we are , invest in BC , invest in Canada . We are such a wonderful place . The hypocrisy suffocates.
And then we invest all over the world , we Canadians, seeking , of course , fairness in the application of another country’s laws on our investments. And often in some years we invest outside the country more than all countries invest in Canada according to Statistics Canada. When I mention this to some Canadians they are shocked , the look on their faces clearly demonstrating that well , I am not really giving the facts. Our banks and resource companies are all over the world .
There was a Premier in Newfoundland and Labrador a few years ago by the name of Danny Williams He, too, liked power , oh , did he like power, and thought he was above international agreements. He , his administration, expropriated assets that belonged to the company Abitibi Price . This violated the North American Free Trade Agreement , was brought to the appropriate tribunal , the company won and Canada, not Newfoundland and Labrador, had to pay $130 million in damages. Newfoundland and Labrador were saddled with the clean up costs as well.
I carried an article in the last twenty four hours from a trade lawyer pointing out that BC violated NAFTA in the imposition of the 15% tax on foreign purchase of real estate in Metro Vancouver . The lawyer referenced the most favoured nation clauses of NAFTA. There were not actually quoted . Here they are taken from the Agreement :
Article 1103: Most-Favored-Nation Treatment
1. Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favorable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investors of any other Party or of a non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments.
2. Each Party shall accord to investments of investors of another Party treatment no less favorable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investments of investors of any other Party or of a non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments.
Now any Provincial Government ‘worth its salt’ would know that such a levy would be subject to International Agreements . And I am sure this Government knew ; to say otherwise would place the Government in a very sad place.
They knew, alright. But when raw politics intersects with the facts , especially close to an election , democracy be damned, international agreements be damned , politics wins —–at least in the narrow , selfish short term.
Our national anthem has the words ‘Glorious and Free’ in it.
Unfortunately , not so glorious, not so free in this instance.