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Op/Ed: New Year's resolutions for the start of a new decade — sort of

Dermod Travis
By Dermod Travis
January 5th, 2020

This time last year, I was hoping 2019 would have a lot less 2018 in it. Didn’t quite work out so well.

But not to despair, we can still hope and set some resolutions for 2020.

These first ones are for all of us. Social media seems to bring out the worst in people (including me). It’s too easy to flip someone off online.

So, time to assign lines.

Write the following 100 times on your Facebook wall on January 1: I will make a conscious effort to improve my online etiquette in 2020. Copy and paste is not allowed.

A few of you need to stop working yourself up into such a lather over every tweet from Global B.C.’s Keith Baldrey. It’s not good for your health. Four out of five doctors recommend that you keep it to one or two of his tweets out of 10 per day next year.

While we’re on the subject, stop calling female politicians – any female for that matter – words you would never allow someone to call your daughter.

If you’re a page administrator on Facebook or Twitter, resolve to use hide and mute first, over ban and block.

Want to change a government policy? This resolution is for the Insurance Bureau of Canada and all those groups that try.

Commit yourself to putting forward the warts and all with your alternative. When you paint a nirvana, it had better check out. If it doesn’t, you’re sunk.

Also? Doesn’t look good when your head of communications tweets “get a life” to one of your critics (see above on social media). Although some of you may agree with his sentiment when you learn I was that critic.

For B.C.’s MLAs, all 87 of you: If a constituent or a resident of B.C. takes the time to write you, have the decency to reply.

Consider this illustration from the federal level.

Richard Lee – the former B.C. Liberal MLA for Burnaby and former 2019 federal Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection – didn’t get a response to his Jan. 1, 2019 letter to the Prime Minister until Global News’s Sam Cooper delivered a gentle nudge, nearly a year later.

Trudeau’s office then emailed Lee “to acknowledge receipt of (his) correspondence.” Nice of them. And for a former candidate to boot.

For the leader of the official opposition, Andrew Wilkinson: resolve to stop leading with your chin in 2020.

If you broke it (BC Hydro, ICBC, the B.C. Lottery Corporation, etc.), you can’t blame the other guys for it or have much to say about how they’re trying to clean it up unless it’s constructive.

Instead champion issues like Mary Polak’s private member’s bill “to require companies to pay contractors within 28 days of receiving an invoice, and contractors to pay subcontractors seven days thereafter” or approaches to addressing Vancouver’s absurd business property tax rates where “assessments are based on the development potential of a zoned lot, not the building in its current form.”

The Liberals may be the opposition for part of one term, a full term or more, but you still have a job to do. Do it well.

For Premier John Horgan, your resolution is simple: find a fix to the forestry crisis in 2020 or you could find yourself singing “I’m a Lumberjack” sooner than you might like.

For those who observe the comings and goings at the legislative precinct: get out of your cocoon more often than you have in the past.

There are real taxpayers out there who don’t care about the inter-personal machinations of the legislature.

They don’t stay at five-star hotels, they don’t get to give themselves a $258,000 retirement allowance or claim for meals they never paid for, they just get left with the tab.

In the same neighbourhood of governance issues, there’s something about politicians, senior government officials and expense accounts.

Just because there’s no law, policy or rule is not an excuse.

In Ontario, the Office of the Integrity Commissioner “reviews the travel, meal and hospitality expenses for cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, leaders of the Opposition and their staff, senior executives, appointees and the top five employee expense claimants at selected agencies, boards and commissions.”

So here’s a resolution for the Legislative Assembly and the government: adopt Ontario’s model for approving expenses.

Give oversight and approval to someone whose hands are far removed from your cookie jar of temptations.

Here’s hoping that along the way in 2020, we experience more moments of joy than not. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Until then, Happy New Year.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC

Categories: Op/EdPolitics

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