"It's like the children's burn unit, you don't cut it until it's the very last thing." That's how Community and Rural Development Minister Bill Bennett reportedly described the Campbell administration's commitment to funding libraries during a reception held last month at the Cranbrook Public Library. But, just 11 days later, his government announced that funding would be cut by 22 percent over previous years to $13.7 million.
This, despite the fact that, according to The Cranbrook Daily Townsman's Annalee Grant, Minister Bennett told reception attendees funding for the city's library would remain intact and that, as far as he knew, there hadn't been any talk about cuts in Victoria.
When asked about that apparent inconsistency last week, Minister Bennett told Public Eye, "I support libraries - just as I think any elected person does from either side of the house."
"But I was quite clear with the folks that day. I took the time to walk them through the fiscal situation that the province was in and warned them we were going to have to wrestle with some difficult choices."