Opinion

NELSON: Debate serves to distract public

Jim Nelson - FILE PHOTO
Jim Nelson
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

I started preparing this week by listing where, in the Tri-Cities, speed limits might safely be raised and where slow drivers are more dangerous than faster drivers. I was prepared to argue that speed isn’t the danger on our roads, the variability of speed is.

Then of course there’s the research that shows that lower speed limits don’t translate to slower driving or higher speed limits to faster driving. I was ready to say that considering raising some speed limits in B.C. might be a good idea.

But my heart just wasn’t in it.

Because pondering changes in speed limits is perhaps the least important issue facing British Columbians. And because whether or not to raise speed limits or what liquor laws we might change, is what this government wants us talk about.

Public consultation about unimportant, non-partisan issues is the modus operandi of our new government, which seems to have mastered the art of political distraction.

And it’s a good political strategy for Christy Clark. Whatever they do or don’t do with our input about speed limits or liquor laws won’t cost them any money, will make them appear collaborative and will keep the focus away from issues of consequence, like a failing jobs plans, child poverty, and B.C. Rail scandals.

Shouldn’t British Columbians be as extensively consulted about how to mitigate the disparity of wealth distribution in B.C. as we are about whether we should sell beer in Safeway or increase the Coquihalla speed limit to 120 km/h?

Trivial public consultation also distracts us from the startling fact that our provincial legislature has sat only 36 days in the last 20 months — by far the fewest of any Canadian province.

While the B.C. public is being consulted about speed limits and happy hours, our elected opposition is being deftly circumvented — deprived of the opportunity to hold the government accountable for non-trivial matters.

So I’ve punted on this week’s burning question about raising speed limits. For those passionate about raising speed limits in B.C., I apologize for not more incisively carrying the banner.

The quandary about whether or not to raise speed limits in B.C. is not consequential. What is consequential is the superficial consultation strategy our government uses to feign transparency while avoiding legislative accountability.

 

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