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COMMENTARY: No election promise is too outlandish in the world of B.C. politics – Global News



Canadian voters are used to politicians promising them the moon at election time.

But voters in British Columbia are currently being promised the moon, stars, sun, planets and all the dark matter in the universe for good measure.

A tsunami of election promises is washing over the province as the three main political parties trip over themselves in their rush to shower voters with goodies.

It started with B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s bold promise to scale back the seven per cent provincial sales tax.

A PST promise was not a surprise after the Liberals earlier called for sales-tax relief as a way to stimulate the economy and to help British Columbians struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The province’s powerful business lobby — generally supportive of the B.C. Liberals, who more closely resemble Conservatives in the province’s contorted political landscape — wanted the PST cut in half.

But Wilkinson didn’t just promise to chop a point or two off the PST as expected.

He promised to eliminate the entire tax for one year, followed by a three per cent sales tax in the second year of a COVID-19 recovery plan.

The dramatic tax-cut promise came as the Liberals languished behind the governing NDP in the opinion polls.

The New Democrats called it a desperate Hail Mary pass that would blow the provincial budget to smithereens.

The current budget deficit stands at around $13 billion. Eliminating the revenue-generating sales tax would bloat it to about $20 billion.

This from a party that once passed one of Canada’s first balanced-budget laws during a 16-year run in power.

“I hope he’s going to tell British Columbians what services he won’t be providing,” fumed NDP leader John Horgan, who said the Liberals would slash government spending to make up for the lost tax revenue.

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But it didn’t take long for Horgan to get in on the promise-a-palooza.

Just a few days after the Liberals’ promise to vaporize the sales tax, Horgan promised to simply give British Columbians free money if he’s re-elected.

Calling it a “COVID-19 recovery benefit,” Horgan promised B.C. families $1,000 cash to help them through the tough times.

Even families whose incomes were not impacted by the pandemic would be eligible for the loot, which Horgan promised would be delivered by direct deposit to voters’ bank accounts.

Now it was time for the Liberals’ to cry foul.

“This is bribing people with their own money,” said Liberal candidate Jas Johal.

But Horgan denied anything so sleazy.

“We’re not just throwing money to try and buy votes,” he insisted.

Which reminded me of an old rule of thumb in Canadian politics: any time a politician says he is not buying votes, he is buying votes.


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After earlier ripping the Liberals for recklessly inflating the budget deficit with desperate promises, Horgan admitted his own free-money promise will further bloat the deficit to around $15 billion.

The unprecedented frenzy of spending promises is happening in a province that boasted one of Canada’s few balanced budgets at the start of the year.

But that was before the pandemic hit, sending governments across Canada into aggressive spending mode.

In British Columbia, every major political party is getting in on the act.

Read more:
BC NDP pledges $1,000 in COVID-19 relief to certain families if re-elected

On the same day Horgan was promising free money to voters, the third-place Green Party was promising free child care and a four-day work week.

It’s an astonishing display of political one-upmanship that has many British Columbians wondering what could be next.

Could Wilkinson promise to pay off everyone’s mortgage and credit-card bills? Could Horgan promise every kid a pony?

In British Columbia, the political rules have changed. No promise, it appears, is too outlandish, no commitment too expensive.

With the election just two weeks away, wait to see who wins the spending contest. Then watch to see if B.C.-style promise-mania catches on elsewhere in Canada.

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Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Show’ on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver and a commentator for Global News. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MikeSmythNews​.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Vote to review Liberals response to COVID-19 highlights showdown between politics and science – National Post



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“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

And nothing could be further from the truth

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

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Students learn provincial politics in mock vote at Saskatchewan schools – Global News



They are too young to vote in Monday’s provincial election, but Saskatchewan elementary and high school students have learned how to cast a ballot when the time comes.

A total of 420 schools across all 61 provincial ridings took part in Student Vote Saskatchewan 2020 ahead of election day on Oct. 26.

Non-partisan Canadian charity, CIVIX, provides teachers with the necessary materials for its civic education program, which has been running since 2003.

“The purpose of our project is to get engaged now, so that when they turn 18, we hope that they not only vote then, but that they will always vote,” said Dan Allan, CIVIX director of content.

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Grade 12 student Brenna Metz said before the program, her class did not know much about who was running for election in their local riding.

“Realizing we need to be informed when making these decisions because they are really big decisions about our lives,” Metz said, adding her biggest takeaway was learning how the provincial government relates to important issues.

“I know mental health was a huge thing that we discussed in our classes because it definitely affects everyone in the school and for many students it is a large problem in Saskatchewan.”

After learning the ins and outs of provincial politics, students from as early as Grade 4 cast mock ballots on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were offered the option of online voting. CIVIX noted, however, the majority still chose to use paper ballots with added precautions.

Teacher Lyle Morley said classes at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina voted at their desks using paper ballots sealed in envelopes — akin to mail-in ballots.

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“In past years we’d have them bring ID and go to the library and vote like you would usually vote,” Morley said, adding students are looking forward to seeing the provincewide results.

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“They want to know what the schools did and they’re definitely interested to see who won,” he said.

CIVIX will release the final student vote results, broken down by riding and school, on election night Monday at 8 p.m. CT.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Politics Chat: Trump And Biden Reach Final Stretch Of Their Presidential Campaigns – NPR



It’s nine days until Election Day, and a historic number of Americans have already voted. More will do so in the coming days.


We are almost there, people. Just over a week until Election Day and a new reminder of just how unprecedented and unpredictable this campaign is. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff is now in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. That’s on a weekend where a record number of Americans have also been confirmed positive. Let’s check in now with our own Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent.

Good morning to you, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marc Short is considered a close contact of the vice president’s.

LIASSON: Yes, he is, and the White House said that the vice president and Mrs. Pence both tested negative. They’re in good health. Pence – even though he is considered a close contact of Marc Short’s, he’s also classified as an essential employee, and the White House says he’s going to keep on traveling, maintain his campaign schedule. Per the CDC guidelines, essential workers who have been exposed to COVID can continue to work if they monitor for symptoms and wear a mask at all times. We know that Short himself is quarantining.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. As we know, it can take some time, though, for there to be enough virus to show up on a test, so obviously, we’re going to keep a close eye on this. But let’s zoom out a little bit now and look at both campaigns. Where are the candidates going in these final days, and what does that tell us about the state of the race?

LIASSON: Well, it tells us a lot. Donald Trump was in North Carolina and Ohio and Wisconsin yesterday. North Carolina and Ohio aren’t states that are usually considered battleground states. They’re states that Republicans should be able to take for granted. Wisconsin – obviously a big, important swing state.

Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania, so it shows you that he’s not taking his birth state for granted. That’s a state that Donald Trump won last time. The Democrats want to get it back. And the Democrats are sending Barack Obama to campaign in Miami. They sent him there. That – he is the most popular person in the Democratic Party, and Florida is a state that Donald Trump has to win to get to 270 votes. So it shows you that Democrats are trying to at least force the Trump campaign to spend a lot more time and money in Florida.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. And there are a lot of statistics being passed around about how many votes have been cast already and by whom and how all that compares to 2016 and other elections, so I’m going to put this to you. What’s your take on all those numbers?

LIASSON: The numbers are really interesting. Right now, 50 million votes have been cast so far. That’s early voting and by-mail voting. That is a third of the total votes cast in 2016, so I would say we are on our way to a historically high turnout election. In Florida and in Texas, the votes cast so far are greater than the number of total votes cast for Donald Trump in those two states in 2016. We don’t know by whom.

We also do know that a Tufts University study of young voters aged 18 to 29 in Florida, North Carolina and Michigan show that they are voting early by – in multiples of the numbers they voted four years ago. And, of course, we do know that young voters tend to split for Democrats 2-to-1. So it’s hard to say what early voting means.

There was an early advantage for Democrats in the states that do report party ID, but now we’re hearing from Florida that Republicans are turning out to vote early in numbers that could offset that advantage. And it’s hard to draw conclusions about early voting because we don’t know if it’s a sign of greater turnout advantage or is a party just banking votes early that they would get anyway on Election Day?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. And speaking of big numbers, let’s talk about money. I mean, we’ve seen just huge sums of money being paid out during this election. Is a cash advantage that – like the Democrats have as important as it used to be? And where are the candidates spending all that money?

LIASSON: A cash advantage is important. Money doesn’t equal votes, but it really helps. And what’s interesting about this year is that it is very unusual that an incumbent president, especially a Republican incumbent who – there are just more deep pockets on the Republican side – is being outraised and outspent by the Democrats.

Now, plenty of rich people are also giving to Joe Biden, but his average donation is $44. That’s a sign of enthusiasm. He also has much more cash on hand right now than the Trump campaign. It shows you how much money the Trump campaign has kind of blown through. And we also know that big donors are now – on the Republican side are now sending their money to Senate races, not to Donald Trump. They’re trying to build that firewall, and that’s going to be – he’s not going to be able to raise a lot of money in the last couple of days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. You mentioned Senate races. There’s a big race in South Carolina between Senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. Just briefly, what other big races are you watching?

LIASSON: Well, watching Maine and Colorado. Those are the two blue states won by Hillary Clinton where there’s a Republican Senate incumbent up for reelection. In both those states, the Republican has been trailing. The next state I’m watching is Arizona – again, a Republican incumbent who’s been polling behind the Democratic challenger. And then there are all sorts of sleeper races. South Carolina is one of them, as you mentioned – Alaska, Kansas. There’s a lot of – I would say the Senate is a jump ball right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Thank you so much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

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