Liberals pull “Robin Hood in reverse”

In India, according to Yale-Lillooet NDP MLA Harry Lali, there’s a legend about an individual named Sultana Daku, meaning the “benevolent robber”. He’s the equivalent of England’s Robin Hood, who steals from the rich in order to give to the poor.

Lali cited these legends to preface his long list of acts committed by the B.C. Liberal government that, he said, show the administration of Premier Gordon Campbell has done a “Robin Hood in reverse” for British Columbians.

“All we’ve had for the last seven years under this Liberal regime is this gouging of revenue after gouging of revenue,” the Indian-born Lali said on February 25 during the debate on the 2008 budget, as recorded in Hansard.

He also said the latest budget is just more “revenue-gouging” and the carbon tax is nothing but a tax grab.

Since coming to office seven years ago, the B.C. Liberals have caused more than 700 fee and licence increases, Lali said.

B.C. Hydro rates have gone up by 8.45 percent since 2001, and, according to Lali, “they’re planning another 25-percent increase in hydro rates”.

Tuition fees have increased
100 percent, on average. There are some schools that have hiked fees between 200 percent and almost 400 percent since the Liberals came to power, the MLA noted.

He also said that Medical Services Plan premiums have increased by 50 percent since 2002. B.C. now has the highest medicare premiums in the country, when it had the lowest in 2001, Lali pointed out.

Seniors who do not qualify for premium assistance are charged $25 per prescription, up to $275 per year more, Lali said. He added that even seniors who qualify for premium assistance are charged $10 per prescription, up to $200 a year more.

Ferry users are paying 35 percent more on major routes and up to 75 percent more on minor routes, compared to 2001 rates, he noted.

Increases in ICBC rates are the “most shameful thing”, according to Lali, who added that the Liberals have also allowed the Crown corporation to apply for another six-percent hike in insurance premiums.

Lali also cited the transit-fare increase early this year, which was followed by the decision by members of the provincially appointed board of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority to increase their salaries.

Minister of Agriculture and Lands Pat Bell called Lali’s speech “nonsense”. Bell, who addressed the legislature immediately after Lali, said the budget is about taking responsibility for climate change and building a strong economy.

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