EDITORIAL – Accept no bafflegab from candidates on two major local issues: healthcare and Ajax

Healthcare will be Issue Number One. (ArmchairMayor photo)

Healthcare will be Issue Number One. (ArmchairMayor photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WEEKS BEFORE the B.C. election campaign is even officially underway, the pivotal issues in the two Kamloops ridings have already become very clear.

They’re a subset of major issues that go beyond the Kamloops region but that have special significance here. The governing Liberals can’t avoid them, but neither can their opponents simply criticize without offering solutions.

The biggest issue won’t be child care, taxes, the opioid crisis, education or even integrity or leadership. Certainly, those things will be debated but the elections in Kamloops-South Thompson and Kamloops-North Thompson won’t turn on them. They’ll will be decided on two key questions.

First and foremost will be health care. The chronic doctor shortage, and the accompanying anger over walk-in clinics, will dog the BC Liberals despite Health Minister Terry Lake’s attention to Kamloops and its hinterland communities with the development of alternative care facilities.

The government simply can’t shake the fact that thousands upon thousands of Kamloops residents — we heard yet another new number of 17,000 this week, compared to 20,000 and 30,000 in previous estimates — are without family doctors.

People are not convinced that walk-in medicine should be their future. Yet the New Democrats have articulated no plan to solve it. Simply saying “hire more doctors” doesn’t cut it. The NDP has a huge political opportunity but there’s no indication so far it has the ability to take advantage.

Despite it being one of the best in the world (dare I say “world class”?) our healthcare system pisses people off. Anger over parking at Royal Inland Hospital is really a symptom of a general unhappiness.

While the NDP hesitates, the Liberals can point to the approval of the business plan for the new patient-care tower, and the recent opening of the Clinical Services Building. The NDP has no choice but to support such projects, which makes it difficult to show how they would do better.

The other big issue, in second place, will be Ajax. I said in an editorial about the Throne Speech this week that the environment versus the economy will be the major battleground on a provincial scale. As much as we would like to have our cake and eat it too, we the voters will have to decide which party and which candidates best reflect our personal values — who can create the best balance without forcing us to make an outright choice between the two. We aren’t ready to pick between the planet and jobs.

The absence of a decision on the Ajax application before the election won’t stop it from being a major issue in this area. Some candidates have already said they’re against it; some haven’t said. If the reboot of the environmental assessment process doesn’t come real soon, the fence-sitters will be able to claim neutral territory until “the studies are all done.”

That may be a calculated risk, but it’s still a risk. Voters to whom the Ajax issue is key will be left to guess what uncommitted candidates might do if they achieve office, and they might guess wrong.

This won’t be an easy election, nor should it be. Candidates should be cornered on the issues — especially these two issues — and not let loose until they provide clear answers unfettered by bafflegab.

About Mel Rothenburger (5528 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Accept no bafflegab from candidates on two major local issues: healthcare and Ajax

  1. The global elites own all the mining companies and if they want all the gold out of these hills, they will take it and no government here at the city level or the provincial or federal level will have a say….Unless we get tens of thousands of people to protest nothing will happen for the people. Same with the health care issue. Its unacceptable and disgusting that it has deteriorated to what it is today. Terry Lake should just keep silent as he can and will not do a thing because he has no power to do anything. Regionalizing was a mistake. It didn’t work in the days of Hitler (that is just exactly what he did) and it won’t work now. All the money goes into administration and patient care is at the bottom and don’t dare mention that if you work in the industry, or you just might lose your job. We should be marching by the tens of thousands in protest of this medical industrial complex but people don’t have the guts. We are not the best health care in the world either….that is a fallacy.We used to be ranked 2nd about 30 years ago or more, we are ranked about 32nd now and that is not good. In fact statistics say the health system is the 3rd leading cause of death in North America, with mistakes that are made by doctors, hospitals and mainly the pharmaceuticals that are given that cause a host of problems. Voting is one big farce and if it really made a difference, we wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

  2. Cynthia Ross Friedman // February 18, 2017 at 7:12 AM // Reply

    I like the article and the comments!

    Alas, not going to happen. I have been told by many that “anyone who takes a position on Ajax has not waited for the facts and will never win the provincial election.” Kamloopsians will hear nothing but “the EA process is flawed” and “we need to hold feet to the fire” and “we want the best assessment.”

    I am so confused and disillusioned. I am not inherently political, but I just know enough as a scientist to see the danger of something like Ajax so close to our city. We can do better. Jobs for all with sustainability initiatives. Not too late to work towards a paradigm shift! I AM a supporter of jobs and unions and families, and I GET IT.

    Heck, I wish the NDP at this point would just say they support Ajax if it passes a legit review. At least I would know. And I would think about other concerns (doctor shortage!) in my voting decision machinations. We are not a one-issue town.

    Ah, well. Strategy seems to win over up-front honesty. It is a sad state of affairs. I probably will never post something with a political bent again, because obviously I am wrong, clueless, not strategically and overly optimistic, and honest.

    And I write this from the settler view. The Indigenous communities I sure hope will be heard. So grateful for their dedication and considerations.

  3. To characterize the (perceived) conflict between the environment and the economy as a choice between the planet and jobs reveals a propound misapprehension of actual realities. Even now, both nationally and internationally, renewable energy is responsible for far more job creation than the fossil fuels industry. Furthermore, it is obvious that without an hospitable planet, a prosperous economy can’t exist.

    The real question is who will be the winners and who will be the losers in the inevitable shift to sustainable energy production and consumption. The longer we delay and serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry the more we cede the opportunity to lead the world with new technologies and a revitalized economy to those willing to take the risk and the initiative.

    This is an issue upon which real leadership, at all levels of governance, is so desperately needed. Unfortunately, that kind of leadership is proving inconsistent with the way politics is “done” in the 21st.

  4. When Tommy Douglas was leader of the CCF in Saskatchewan he would tell his candidates the “pig” story.

    Mr. Douglas and his campaign manager were returning home to Weyburn from a campaign rally in the rural community of Montmartre. His speech that night had centred on the perils of fascism. Mr. Douglas was in good spirits after the rally and was prompting his campaign manger for a little stoking. None came. The campaign manger just drove in silents for some time as Mr. Douglas droned on about the evening. Finally the campaign manger turned to Mr. Douglas and said, “You didn’t talk about pigs”.

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