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Jordan Bateman: It's time to pay political attention in B.C.

British Columbians need to "unquit" politics to deal with a worrisome picture
Commentator Jordan Bateman argues it's time to wake up to what's been happening to B.C.'s economy in the pandemic. Credit: Dan Toulgoet

In the waning days of the pandemic, a lot of ink was spent on the trend of quiet quitting.

This refers to workers who mechanically did the bare minimum in their jobs, with little enthusiasm. Quiet quitters stayed where they were, but simply no longer engaged with their work in any meaningful way.

There’s much debate about how much it actually happened, but one place there’s been plenty of quiet quitting is British Columbians and their politics.

B.C. voters are doing the bare minimum and are simply not engaged in the way we need to be.

Sure, there have been blips of interest here and there. Families with children with autism have been loud and consistent in their opposition to the NDP’s plan to strip funding from their kids. There was 72 hours of outrage in 2020 when John Horgan plunged us into a selfish election in the middle of COVID-19, but ultimately voters rewarded his selfishness with a majority mandate. The billion-dollar boondoggle of a new Royal BC Museum drew ire and ridicule for 40 days, until the NDP finally put it back on the shelf.

But those moments are few and far between. Premier David Eby went on a 60-day, reckless spending spree, throwing around billions of dollars in the middle of an inflation crisis, and as B.C. debt is set to pass $100 billion.

No one even noticed.

As we all focus on other things, we’ve missed how dire British Columbia’s situation has become.

B.C. is the only province in the country where inflation did not go down this month, holding steady at 6.2%, further exacerbating our affordability crisis.

Last quarter, B.C. experienced net negative interprovincial migration – meaning more people moved out of B.C. to other parts of Canada than moved here. This means British Columbians are being drawn to the opportunities and relative affordability elsewhere, making our labour shortage worse. For British Columbians used to smiling their way through mild coastal winters while other Canadian centres dig out from several feet of snow, this comes as a shock.

Lytton still lies in ashes, nearly two years after the NDP promised it would be rebuilt.

The NDP promised there would be no school portables in Surrey by 2021, a promise so ludicrous it was barely noted when that deadline came and went, and hundreds of portables remain today. NDP promises on childcare spaces, housing, and renters’ rebates are also years behind schedule.

Drug overdoses? All-time high. Homelessness? All-time high. Street crime? Forcing small businesses to shut down and terrorizing neighbourhoods.

In rural B.C., it seems the only thing closing more often than resource businesses are hospital emergency rooms.

Among the OECD’s 38 countries, Canada’s economy will rank dead last in growth – both in the short and long term. At its current rate, it will take a century for our economy to double its GDP. That’s four generations – be sure to leave a note to your great-great-grandchildren congratulating them.

From mid-2020 (when employment started to return after the first lockdown) to today, hiring in B.C.’s private sector has been flat, the number of self-employed people has declined, and public sector hiring has skyrocketed by nearly 100,000 people.

Effectively, every new job created in B.C. since mid-2020 has been a government, taxpayer-funded job. Yet nothing seems to be improving.

Taken individually, every single one of these facts, indicators, and trends is worrisome. Collectively, it paints a clear picture of decline.

Is this really good enough? None of this will change until voters re-engage, hold the Premier and NDP Government to account, and demand better.

It’s time to unquietly unquit politics. The future of B.C. depends on it.

Jordan Bateman is vice-president, communications and marketing, for the Independent Contractors and Business Association.