New perspectives needed in new year 

If New Year’s Eve is a time for resolutions, perhaps a little honesty and a dose of reality would be good ones for the people who run some government departments.

British Columbia is not the well-oiled machine it once was – if it ever was. The frightening state of the health care system quickly becomes apparent to anyone who has to use it. Treaty negotiations with First Nations have been in a stalemate for more than a year. As a result, many land use decisions are also on hold, although in some instances there are studies going on which give the impression some official somewhere may eventually venture an opinion or come to a conclusion.

While these are well documented, ongoing issues that merely have to do with the fate of the province, the provincial economy and the people of B.C., a couple of other issues came to light over the holidays which make one wonder whether some government offices weren’t infected with the Y2K bug last New Year’s.

Does anyone recall a RCMP roadblock in the week prior to Christmas? The CounterAttack program is a Yuletide tradition in B.C. Lower Mainland drivers could normally expect to go through two or three roadblocks in a 45-minute drive through the city at Christmas, and there are often a couple of roadblocks between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler on Highway 99. They were up in mid-December but in the week leading up to Christmas it was clear driving for anyone, in any state.

Apparently that’s because ICBC – the Crown corporation/monopoly that is making a pile of money and looking for new ways to stick it to its reluctant customers in the new year – refused to pay overtime to police and RCMP manning the roadblocks, so the cops refused to work them.

Perhaps the CounterAttack program has been around long enough that most people have come to their senses and no longer drink and drive. But who knows if the decision to save some money might end up costing more than anything money can buy.

Then there’s the Liquor Control Board, or Liquor Control-freak Board, which is going to shut down the new Dusty’s for 10 days in January. The closure is a penalty for the big blow out party Whistler-Blackcomb threw at the old Dusty’s closing last April.

For 10 days in January all those people who have been convinced to come to Whistler and spend their money at this supposedly world-class resort will not be able to buy a beer at the Creekside base of the mountain.

That this may give visitors the impression the entire resort – even the entire province – is a backward little outpost run by a legion of bureaucrats armed with rule books and regulations doesn’t seem to be a concern. Rules were broken; the offenders must be punished, damn the consequences.

And the small minds whose job it is to see that liquor regulations are adhered to may impose further penalties on Dusty’s. Seems a bottle of "illegal" liquor – that which wasn’t purchased from the government – was found on the premise last winter.

No one’s denying the need for some liquor regulations, but some perspective is also in order. This is the same government organization that after years of allowing private enterprise to have the Sunday market for beer and wine sales, decided there was money to be made and opened its liquor stores to rake in more of that dough. The liquor board was already getting some of that profit, because private beer and wine stores have to buy from them, but that wasn’t enough.

Perhaps the new year will bring a little less hypocrisy.

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