POLL: British Columbians prefer spending on health and education over debt paydown

By Tom Barrett

A new poll suggests that British Columbians are more interested in spending on health and education than paying down the province’s debt or cutting taxes.

The online Ipsos poll, for Global TV, asked the following question:

“On which one of the following three items would you like to see the provincial government place the greatest priority over the next few years?”

Forty-six per cent of respondents replied “increasing funding for services such as health and education”; 35 per cent replied “reducing the provincial debt” and 15 per cent said “lowering taxes.” A further four per cent said they didn’t know.

The poll also asked: “If elected, how well do you think each of the parties would do at balancing resource development and environmental protection”?

Thirty-nine per cent said Adrian Dix and the BC NDP would strike about the right balance between development and the environment, while 29 per cent said the party would put too much focus on the environment.

Thirty per cent said Christy Clark and the Liberals would strike the right balance, while 49 per cent said they would put too much focus on resource development.

Fifteen per cent said John Cummins and the BC Conservatives would strike the right balance, while 35 per cent said they would put too much focus on resource development; 47 per cent said they didn’t know.

Twelve per cent said Jane Sterk and the Green party would strike the right balance, while 61 per cent said the Greens would put too much focus on the environment.

The poll was conducted Monday, April 22 and April 23, among 455 adult British Columbians drawn from a panel assembled by Ipsos. The company states a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20. For more on polling methodology and controversies, see this story.

Find Tyee election reporting team member and contributing editor Tom Barrett’s previous Tyee articles here. Find him on Twitter or email him.

Domino theory

With a provincial election less than four months away, TV viewers in B.C. have been treated to a flood of advertisements that explain what a great job the Christy Clark government is doing.

One 30-second spot uses dominoes (actually, they’re smartphones set up like dominoes) to represent the world’s tumbling economies. Amidst the clacking chaos, B.C. stands strong, apparently. Viewers would be forgiven for thinking they’re watching election ads, but these are government ads, paid for by tax dollars.

B.C. taxpayers, it seems, need to be told the economy is strong and the Clark government isn’t afraid to be the one to tell them.

This week, New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix promised that, if elected, he’ll give the auditor general the power to kill partisan government advertising.

Such ads are something that politicians always yell about when they’re in opposition, but discover are really useful when they’re in power. After Dix’s announcement, Victoria Times-Colonist columnist Les Leyne dug out a story of mine that ran in the Vancouver Sun in February, 1998.

The NDP was in government then, and Dix was chief of staff to then-premier Glen Clark. That Clark government was running a $2 million campaign with the slogan “Jobs for B.C. It’s working” As Leyne writes:

There were the same problems as today:

• Employment numbers dropped during the campaign, which negated the entire thrust.

• The Opposition Liberals condemned them as a misleading waste of tax dollars.

• The auditor general of the day — George Morfitt — was complaining that there were no rules to keep propaganda out of government advertising.

He had earlier urged a ban on partisan information in public government communications. The premier’s communications director, Geoff Meggs — now a Vancouver councillor — offered a hollow argument that the government had an obligation to report on its initiatives. Particularly if they were good news ones.

As Leyne says, “Amazing to think 17 years after the auditor general flagged it, we’re still waiting for common sense to break out on this front.”