It may look like a peaceful place; but don't let appearances deceive you.

It may look like a peaceful place; but don't let appearances deceive you.

Full of sound and fury

I'm sure that politicians in opposite parties get along with each other in private; but in public it's a different matter.

My inbox at The Journal is a non-stop whirl of excitement, filling up as it does daily with news/press/media releases from organizations big and small, well-known and obscure. If something happens in the province, some group is sure to weigh in; because if an event happens and no one sends out a media release, did it really take place?

The 2017 provincial budget was released on February 28, and was embargoed until 2 p.m. that day; which means that interested parties were given a copy of the budget in advance to read and comment on, then placed in “lock-up”, not able to release anything until after 2 o’clock rolled round.

Well, starting at 2:01 p.m. my inbox lit up like an explosion in a fireworks factory. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Sierra Club, the BC Care Providers Association, the BC Nurses Union, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the Hospital Employees Union, the BC Federation of Students, the Council of Forest Industries, the Council of Canadian Innovators, and many more organizations wanted to let me—and every other media outlet in the province—know what they thought about Budget 2017, for or against.

Of course the NDP did not hesitate to say what they thought of the budget, and—I hope you’re sitting down for this—the party was not impressed. At all. In fact, it started the day before the budget was released, when the NDP, reacting to the information that the B.C. Liberals plan to cut MSP premiums starting in 2018 (“NDP MSP Plan Means Higher Taxes For British Columbians”, Liberal Caucus Communications, 7:36 a.m.), fired back with “Don’t Believe Christy Clark’s double speak” (1:37 p.m.).

I have no idea how members of the legislature who are in different parties interact with their opposite numbers, but I have to think that since they’re all in the same business, so to speak, they have a good deal in common with each other, and could be—perhaps are—friends in real life. It puts me in mind of a poem by Thomas Hardy, written during World War I, from the perspective of a British soldier, thinking of his opposite number in the German army: “Had he and I but met / By some old ancient inn / We would have set us down to wet / Right many a nipperkin. / But ranged as infantry / And staring face to face / I shot at him, as he at me / And killed him in his place.”

Hardy was referencing the fact that these common soldiers probably had far more similarities than differences, but circumstances cast them as enemies. So it is, I like to think, with our political parties; how else to explain the knee-jerk “But that’s just wrong!” responses that come out from both parties in response to something from the other? I honestly believe that if one party here in B.C. came out with a statement saying “Cats are lovely creatures, and B.C. families should consider adopting one from a local shelter,” the other party would instantly issue a statement saying that “Adopting a cat would be a financial burden for many B.C. families, to say nothing of the hardship imposed on those with allergies.”

We’ll be hearing a lot of this sort of thing in the run-up to the election on May 9. My only consolation? You’ll all be feeling my pain.