After Bennett: A New Politics for British Columbia
Greg Turko is a policy analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and
This collection of essays, in its narrowest sense, deals with economic and social debates and policies for B.C. in the post-Bennett era. The authors are primarily academics or social activists, or both.
Not surprisingly, these essayists are not overly sympathetic to the social-spending restraint, neoconservative agenda of the Bennett government or its successor. The human costs, they argue, are too great, and, what is more important, these policies are counter-productive. Decreased public spending, for example, does not create a more stable, prosperous private sector workforce, as the neoconservatives would have it. Instead, it creates more unemployment with the resulting increase in welfare andassociated spending. It also increases the amount of individual human misery.
Similarly, the reliance on megaprojects such as Expo ‘86 to generate growth and employment is questioned. These projects very often have costs that far outweigh any benefits that may result in terms of the cost of each job, the salaries paid and the permanence of employment. The authors examine a long series of similar B.C. policies illustrating the ideological shortsightedness that governs many of these economic choices.
The real strength of this book, for most readers, is not in what it tells us about B.C. Many of the issues are simply too local to be of interest to anyone outside the province. Rather, this book provides an effective and well reasoned critique of neoconservatism that has validity far beyond B.C. borders.
Unfortunately, the authors are often much less effective when they propose alternatives to neoconservatism. In general, the solution proposed for B.C. (and the Western world’s) problems is economic and political decentralization. Educational and social restructuring would, of course, undergo similar change. These solutions, one cannot help thinking, are as ideological and inapppropriate, in their own way, as those of the neoconservatives. Both groups wish to recast society, in its broadest scope, into a more acceptable ideological form.Despite the sometimes uneven quality of the writing and the emphasis on local issues, this book does provide an excellent examination of neoconservative doctrine and its application.