Opinion Column

Panels can solve problems, but don't overdo it

By Steve Burgess

B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Drinking and driving is a terrible thing. You should never do it.

But here's some advice: if you do happen to get pulled over by the police and the breathalyzer indicates that sometime within the past few hours you may have accidentally ingested eight Manhattans and a stray margarita, just fix your wobbly eyes on your accuser and say: “No worries, occifer. I am planning to quit drinking next week for sure. Maybe. First I will consult a panel of doctors. Now if the three of you will excuse me, some wealthy pals are throwing a party for me. Foggy tonight, ain't it? Or is it just me?”

I'm sure it will work. After all Premier Clark just trotted out a variation on that same spiel to deal with the issue of campaign finance reform.

Lately there has been a great deal of criticism on BC's political finance rules, which seem to have been created by the same committee that wrote the official guidelines for cat fights. BC's political culture was recently described in the New York Times as “the Wild West.” Duff Conacher of the organization Democracy Watch has described BC as having “one of the most undemocratic and unethical political donation systems of anywhere in Canada.” The Wall family pumped $400,000 into BC Liberal coffers in 2016 alone.

So it may appear the BC Liberal Party is just a teensy-weensy bit tipsy on corporate cash, but don't worry. As soon as the next election is over action will be taken. Specifically, Clark says she will  appoint an independent panel to study the issue.

Boom! Done. Cross that problem off the list. There's going to be a panel. It's just like how things work down at the firehall. When an alarm comes in everybody drops what they're doing, leaps into action,  and convenes a panel. A couple of hours later they reach a decision to buy a shiny new firetruck. And the fire? It resolves itself, probably.

Yes, if you want to solve a problem a panel is the best way. But you don't want to overdo it. According to an email sent out by BC Liberal campaign director Laura Miller, “The panel will convene every eight years to collect input from the public and political parties, and make recommendations for potential changes.”

Every eight years? Hey, that's my vacuuming schedule too—once every eight years, whether the place needs it or not. Nice to know I'm not the only one who likes to keep things clean.