The provincial New Democrats, inexplicably, aren't commenting on revelations the three-person MLA pay-and-pension panel changed its recommendations while one of their number was in Europe. But former premier Bill Vander Zalm, 24 hours' columnist Bill Tieleman and the Times Colonist's editorial board are. "It's the process that ought to concern people. Because the process is very flawed," said Mr. Vander Zalm, in an interview this morning on Public Eye Radio. "They ought to do it over again. And, this time, they should have people who are more representative of the average British Columbian" rather than a lawyer, a former judge and a business professor - an opinion shared by the Times Colonist.
Mr. Vander Zalm also knocked the New Democrats for not speaking out about the issue. "I think the NDP has really fallen down on this one. They're certainly not acting as an opposition ought to - and as they used to act when I was there and people before me. It's very much changed from what was and it's totally wrong."
In fact, in a posting on his Website, Mr. Tieleman - the former communications director for the British Columbia Federation of Labour and then Premier Glen Clark - writes, "Even if the NDP wholeheartedly supported the pay and pension package - which it actually opposes - a vigorous opposition would still condemn" the commission process. "And if you oppose the package - which the NDP does - why would you not drive this issue of the Commission's tainted report so as to force the BC Liberals to drop the entire proposal, kill it dead?"
"Where is the public campaign to drop the pay raises? Where are the newspaper and radio ads? Where are the town hall meetings? Doesn't anyone in the NDP realize this is a total political gift? It's possible an aggressive opposition could reverse its fortunes and actually win an election on such a populist issue that appeals not only to its lower-income base but actually crosses BC's traditional political cleavages?"