I laughed long and hard when I heard the story.
For years, federally, British Columbians have tended to vote Progressive Conservative, Reform, Alliance or now, again, Conservative -- in part because the party in power, the Liberal Party of Canada could be trusted to ignore BC, to pour largesse on Québec, Ontario, even Manitoba but never on BC. We neither had a large population whose employability needed to be shored up (Ontario), nor a tendency to question our future within Canada (Québec). We even had an unnecessary recession in the 90s because of fiscal policy that was good for everyone east of the Rockies -- well, in deference to Alberta, everyone east of Lloydminster.
Yesterday, the minority Conservative government tabled their 2nd budget (a small wonder in itself), during which speech the MInister of Finance, the Hon. Joe Flaherty, betrayed his (and his staff's) oblivion to their being anything Beautiful in BC when he proclaimed that the Rockies were the country's westernmost beauty spot. Then he went on to lay out a budget which, while I as the head of a single-income household with three children will benefit from, shortchanges BC on several fronts, especially in federal infrastructure dollars towards better public transportation. Less than a fortnight ago, $1,000,000,000 was announced in spending for Toronto's system. So, perhaps we, as the 3rd largest city don't quite deserve that much but, no further money at all? I was surprised.
But I was not as surprised as I was to hear about a Liberal MP from BC loudly complaining about how the budget had abandoned BC. Hearing that, I laughed and laughed and laughed. The barefaced hypocrisy stunned me. Where were you, Mr. Liberal MP in the Trudeau years, the Chrêtien years, even the Martin years? Were you in the back of caucus meetings being sat on so that your constituents' reasonable requests got ignored? Actually, I think this MP is a relative newcomer to parliament but certainly other members of the Liberal contingent from BC were there before their current stint in the minority. Where were your voices then? Why should we take your calls for redress seriously, as in, "if only we vote for these guys, BC will be better off next time."?
And I laughed but my laughter was hollow. I don't suppose that trying to leave confederation will help BC much, but our population is growing and we have a similar unemployment rate to that of Powerhouse Alberta. Still, I think we would do well never to expect anything from Ottawa, save appeals for votes, even from parties that unseat the current government after years of promising us a better deal, if only we vote them in next time. Proportional representation in the Commons would be a better idea, but I see no political will for that among the haves: Conservative, Liberal, NDP. That might not fix things either but it might enable BC to have a stronger voice, a unified contingent, willing to become part of any and every ruling coalition, so long as the next government takes BC's needs seriously, instead of having them look west, see a scary Alberta and ignore anything from beyond that point. If BCers care less and less about Canada, Canada will have nobody to blame but successive Winnipeg-and-east-thereof governments that have treated BC as no more than that vacant lot beyond the Rockies. I like the idea of Canada and I hope things don't continue to develop along that vein.