Skip to content

NELSON: The BC Liberal 2000s were the real Dark Decade


FACE TO FACE: Should B.C. voters look back on the NDP 1990s in fear?

MLA-elect Joe Trasolini had barely taken off his orange election day shirt when Premier Christy Clark was admonishing us about the horrors of a return to an NDP provincial government.

Alas, two convincing byelection wins in strong BC Liberal constituencies have now sentenced us to relentless Liberal reminders about the Stygean gloom that was the NDP '90s.

But the 1990s weren't bad. That scare job is a mythological mantra. Here's how it goes:

The myth: "There was an exodus of business from B.C." in the 1990s.

Apparently, fleeing businesses didn't take people with them as population growth in B.C. in that decade was 210,000 higher than in the 2000s.

In addition, the '90s saw B.C. top Canada in the number of new small businesses created and both union and non-union workers enjoyed the highest or second highest hourly wages in the country.

The myth: "The NDP stifled economic growth."

Actually, B.C.'s growth rate was higher in the '90s than in the '00s - 3% to 2%. Oh, and corporate profits tripled during the NDP's time.

The myth: "The NDP ruined B.C.'s finances."

Actually, the NDP handed the BC Liberals in 2001 a $1.5-billion surplus and their third balanced budget in row. The BC Liberals of the 2000s have had four budget deficits in a row - including a whopping $2.75 billion in 2010.

The myth: "Business floundered in the 1990s."

During that time, employment in manufacturing grew by 1.6% per year while it fell .5% per year in the 2000s; '90s job creation averaged 2.7% per year versus 1.7% per year in the next decade.

No, the 1990s weren't a fiscal disaster but the 2000s were. Multiple tax cuts benefiting the wealthy have caused B.C. to have the highest child poverty rate in Canada (21.9%). Our public schools are in crisis, our courts are underfunded and, at the same time, we now have more millionaires per capita than any province - and the lowest minimum wage.

And I haven't even touched on all the lying and scandals - the 2000s win that one going away.

The 1990s weren't bad. In fact, we've just lived through the real Dark Decade.

Premier Clark: You don't understand that British Columbians remain angrier about the 2000s than they are frightened of the 1990s.

But you will.

Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.