My sense of the referendum at this point: It’s becoming increasingly clear, if it wasn’t obvious at the beginning, that this was a set-up:

  • To limit municipal and regional governments tax room and expenditure, as advocated by the Fraser Institute and others leading up to the provincial and civic elections, without the province having to wield the knife.
  • To avoid provincial commitments to transit, so they can be diverted instead to Motordom (hello, Massey) – effectively reversing the direction of the regional vision and plans.
  • To get the people of Metro Vancouver, transit-users included, to vote against their long-term self-interest, even as equivalent amounts of revenue are shifted to the top 2 percent of British Columbians.

To execute the strategy, it was necessary to vilify government – the job of astroturf groups with obscure funding but direct links to the anti-government network.  TransLink, without an identifiable leader and a board without electoral accountability, was an ideal target.  Hence the disproportionate attack on its performance.  The goal: to get voters to justify a No vote without, in their minds, voting against transit – which is what, of course, they are actually doing.

Hence, the Great Dupe.

Here’s another compilation of quotes from The Exile:

The Red Herring Referendum

“One thing that we have learned however is that the best thing to do to make your transit agency worse off is to de-fund them. That taking away money from them in order to demonstrate frustration only punishes the people who are reliant on the transportation system.”

Jeffery TumlinNelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

How making those with low incomes, students, new immigrants and the elderly wait longer for the 99 B-line will induce Christy Clark to give Translink executives a salary haircut is a mystery to me.

Stuart Parker makes a similar point here.

“Let’s be clear: the BC government already doesn’t care about low-income people, transit riders and families forced to suburbanize due to the affordability crisis. If our lives get worse by our own hands, it’s just going to broaden the smile on our premier’s face. What so many “no” supporters are missing is that hostage situations only work if the people you’re threatening care about the hostages.”

Indeed. People, including some progressives, seem to be under the mistaken impression the Premier wants a Yes victory.

UPDATE:Stephen Rees has another of his always useful posts:

“In fact most of the problems that beset Translink at the moment all have their genesis with the provincial government. Christy Clark has done one brilliant job: she has deflected all the criticism of her failure to authorize adequate resources for running the transportation system in BC’s largest metropolis onto an organisation that she herself controls. It is an appointed Board – with a bafflingly complex system of appointment to disguise the very limited range of qualifications of its appointees. No-one represents the users of the system, and there are only two of 20 Mayors on the board, both very recent appointments.

“Voting NO is not going to change anything.”