Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

Election wishlist



Politicians of all stripes are universally famous for overpromising and under delivering (e.g. we still have an appointed senate, deficits, Sea King helicopters, climate change and poor people), but sometimes they do come through in a spectacular way.

All of B.C.'s provincial parties — and there are more than two — are promising various things in the May 14 general provincial election, in between scoring points on their opponents with the usual verbal jabs and bon mots, hyperbolic statements, half truths, false equivalencies, misrepresentations, generalizations, scapegoatings, "straw man" attacks, ad hominem attacks, reductio ad absurdums, non-sequiturs, evasions, red herrings, muck rakings, changes of subject, obfuscations and occasional "Gish Gallopings" (a debate tactic recently made famous by Mitt Romney, whereby a candidate spews so much bullshit in such a short span of time that his or her opponent can't possibly address or counter even a small part of it in the rebuttal).

Usually I'd have a good idea by now what an election is going to be about, but it's hard to get a good read on this one. Will it be a referendum on the Liberal Party's last 12 years in power, or will the NDP's two terms before that still have sway? Will it be about various scandals that tend to build up over any long reign? Is the economy still a core issue for people, or are the masses feeling better about that side of things and ready to look at other pressing issues like the environment, energy policy and child poverty? Or will the outcome hinge on a few hot button issues, like marijuana policy or the Northern Gateway pipeline?

I'm not personally favouring one party over another, but there are three things I'd like to see promised that would influence my vote on May 14:

1. Fair electrical bills — Now that we (mostly) have smart meters, it's time for BC Hydro to scrap their mountain town-killing two-tier rate system and switch to a better system like time-of-use pricing where power rates are lower during low demand periods... and the same for everybody.

The two-tier system charges BC Hydro customers 6.8 cents a kilowatt-hour for the first 1,350 kWh consumed and a higher rate (10.19 cents) for anything over. The 1,350 number was determined by looking at average consumption across the province, but given than the vast majority of people live in relatively temperate areas — Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna — people who live in areas where it's colder, such as Whistler, are far more likely to go over that 1,350 threshold.

The two-tiered system was designed to be punitive, nudging people to cut down on consumption and to invest in power saving fixtures and appliances. However, heating is still the biggest use of electricity and people who live in colder areas of the province can't really choose to turn their baseboard heaters off. It's actually cheaper for me to heat the middle and top floors of my house using the gas fireplace than the electrical heat, so I'd argue the two-tiered policy is probably increasing emissions as well as screwing over a certain percentage of the population.

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