The most vexing issue around here is not, as you might expect me to say, the HST.
Don’t get me wrong. A tax revolt led by Bill Vander Zalm targeting Gordon Campbell with Carole James braying on the sidelines has a high vexation index.
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But the real bugbear du jour has to be the toxic grudge match between the Vancouver School Board (VSB) and the above-mentioned Campbell government.
The school board says it has a $17-million deficit and will have to stop the music and lay off teachers. At one point, it has even talked about cutting the school year by 10 days.
The government’s comptroller general, Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, says no, the deficit is really more like $11 million, and could be extinguished altogether if the school board managed its affairs better.
As I write, Minister of Education Margaret MacDiarmid is demanding the VSB pay attention to the comptroller, redo the budget and make it balance this time. Dammit.
Sigh. While the grownups indulge themselves in this protracted schoolyard brawl, parents and their kids are left to wonder about … everything. All this is happening in an increasingly competitive world. To get into UBC these days, you need an “A” average. Do you think any of these politicians would make the cut?
Everyone has to do more with less. Starting with Victoria. I don’t want to tell Gordon Campbell “I told you so,” but spending like a drunken sailor on capital improvements like the state-of-the-art convention centre and the fabulous $685-million roof for B.C. Place (one-third higher than the VSB annual budget) is having a real impact on education, health care and social programs, even if it looks as if the province will be spared many of the ravages of the global recession.
Gordon, you’ve been bad. Go stand in the corner.
The corner could get crowded because the premier should be joined by the histrionic, posturing know-nothings from the VSB. Instead of threatening to cut off everyone’s head, they should shut up and bring the deficit under control. Lost in all the hot air is a simple fact: The VSB has been given a funding increase of half a million bucks this year, despite declining enrolment.
While you’re all in the corner, here’s your assignment. Write 1,000 times: I will stop all this ridiculous posturing and show some leadership in managing and developing a public education system that will meet our needs through the 21st century.