Look to the past

In East Kootenay MLA Bennett’s letter of last week (‘MLA rebuttal’) his main economic argument was that, ‘B.C. has the third lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the country, the most important statistic about debt, because it is an accurate indicator of economic strength.’

On the issue of debt-to-GDP I would refer Mr. Bennett to the Bank of Montreal ‘Commentary’ of March 15, 2001.

There he will read that under the NDP (1991 – 2001) B.C. had the second lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in Canada.

If the debt-to-GDP ratio is ‘an accurate indicator of economic strength’, as Mr. Bennett says, then British Columbia was in fact stronger economically under the NDP than it has been under the B.C. Liberals, despite Mr. Bennett’s claims to the contrary.

The 2001 BMO ‘Commentary’ also stated that, in addition to this excellent debt-to-GDP ratio, B.C. had, under the NDP, ‘the lowest corporate income tax rate for small business in the country. It has the second lowest marginal tax rate for low income earners among the provinces and the third lowest for middle-income earners and offers a comprehensive, well-funded set of health, education and social services.’

In his letter Mr. Bennett showed his customary ill-mannered reaction to those who disagree with him and elsewhere revealed a deep-seated and unthinking antagonism towards social democracy.

Indeed, in a letter to the editor in The Free Press in 2008 he claimed that, historically, social democracy had never worked.

And yet between 1944 and 1953, a social democratic CCF /NDP government reduced Saskatchewan’s debt from $218 million to zero, with every budget balanced from 1944 through 1960 and beyond.

In light of all these figures, Mr. Bennett should not be quite so thoughtless in selecting his economic statistics and his history.

Nor should he allow his political prejudice to blind him to economic realities and historical accuracy.


J.C. Vallance