FOULDS: Liberal Stone needs to take a breath and count to 10
Todd Stone has succeeded veteran MLA Kevin Krueger as the B.C. Liberal candidate for Kamloops-South Thompson.
While not as bombastic as his predecessor, Stone has gotten off on the wrong foot as he begins his campaign to retain the seat for the Liberals in the May 14 election.
In Stone’s case, that foot happens to be currently stuck in his mouth.
Last week, Stone, without prompting, attacked NDP Leader Adrian Dix’s decision to use Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops as the backdrop to his announcement that an NDP government will restore the $1-million per year funding to the Science World tour program.
The program, called BC Program for the Awareness and Learning of Science (BC PALS), saw Science World staff visit hundreds of classrooms across B.C., bringing Science World experiments to kids who might not otherwise be able to visit the famous silver dome in Vancouver.
On the morning of Dix’s visit to Kamloops, Stone called city media to lambaste the NDP leader’s focus that day — only Stone was less than fully cognizant of what Dix was saying.
Here is Stone’s tweet prior to Dix’s announcement: “Unbelievable Adrian Dix comes to #Kamloops today to commit funding 4 Science World in Vancouver. People of Kamloops deserve better #bcpoli.”
Actually, Dix was committing funding to a provincewide Science World program, not to Science World’s Vancouver operation.
Those who have seen Science World staff work their magic in front of wide-eyed kids — and I have — can attest to how fantastic the program is and how engaged schoolchildren become.
The program was instrumental in getting kids tuned into science and crucial in spreading the wonder of science and Science World beyond the Lower Mainland — and the B.C. Liberals deserve kudos for funding the innovative endeavour in 2005.
Yes, programs are created to be cut in the world of politics as fiscal decisions are re-evaluated every day.
But, cutting the BC PALS program’s $1 million a year in light of the millions and millions the B.C. Liberals have been spending on partisan pre-election campaign ads is a poor decision — and lousy PR.
Heck, the program could be funded by a few Pamela Martins.
It could be sustained for six years with the taxpayer funds that mysteriously went to the legal defence team that defended Dave Basi and Bob Virk, both of whom pleaded guilty in the BC Rail corruption case.
This becomes magnified when one looks back at how enthusiastic the Liberals were about the program — right before they killed it.
They cut the program in June 2012.
Only seven months earlier, Premier Christy Clark spoke of how valuable the Science World program was: “It’s important we support Science World and their programs that foster the pursuit of science in our children and throughout the community, so we have bright young people to fill those jobs when they become available.”
Five months before those words, Moira Stilwell, then-parliamentary secretary for industry, research and innovation, said: “Getting young people excited about sciences and technology is not a task that ends because the Year of Science is over.
“This legacy funding will ensure that we continue to educate our young people about the tremendous opportunities that the sciences provide . . .”
Stone’s Science World gaffe followed his bewildering take on the first NDP radio ad, a rather innocuous spot featuring Dix smiling a lot.
Stone labelled it an “attack ad,” which, compared to the vicious ads taken out by Concerned Citizens for B.C. (a group that supports the B.C. Liberals, led by Jim Shepard, former advisor to the premier), is akin to the iceberg that sunk the Titanic ripping into BC Ferries for a two-sailing wait at the Tsawwassen terminal.
When anybody, regardless of political stripe, is criticized for deciding to fund a worthwhile program that requires precious little to fund, those behind the criticism are only revealing the depths of desperation to which they have sunk.