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BC Votes 2009 Reality Check

Friday, May 8, 2009 | 05:57 PM PT

Mostly falseThe Liberal Party claim that a 25 per cent increase in the minimum wage would result in 50,000 lost jobs in B.C. is mostly false.You’ve probably heard Liberal leader Gordon Campbell on the campaign trail talking about the NDP proposal to raise the minimum wage. He says if the minimum wage is raised from the current $8/hr to $10/hr, 50,000 people will lose their jobs.

Here’s what he’s said on April 7, 2009, “we'll lose 50,000 jobs in British Columbia from that one announcement alone.”

On April 23, 2009 during the radio debate, “the wage recommendations [the NDP has] will cost 50,000 jobs in small business.”

On May 3, 2009 during the TV debate, “[Carole James] has to have the wherewithal to stand up to workers and say here's your pink slip, you're out of work.”

It’s safe to say he wants voters to come away thinking that in James gets in, they might be out…of a job.

We looked into where Campbell’s “50,000” number came from and what we found is that the jury is still out on how a 25 per cent minimum wage hike, or from $8/hr-$10/hr would affect B.C.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 05:26 PM PT

During the only televised leader’s debate this election, along with themes like the economy and leadership, the would-be (and current) Premiers had to answer some questions about crime. You can watch it here.

One of the questions (which were asked by “average” British Columbians from around the province via pre-recorded video) was directed at B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell: “Will the leaders commit to provincial funding for 900 more police officers in the Lower Mainland?”

Gordon Campbell answered this way: “You know and I know we were left with a significant deficit with regard to the number of police officers in the province when we were first elected. That's why we've hired over 1100 additional police officers since we were elected in 2001.”

That’s almost true: while it may have seemed to the viewer Mr. Campbell was saying 1100 additional police officers have been hired in the Lower Mainland- that’s not what the numbers say.

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Friday, May 1, 2009 | 11:35 AM PT

Mostly falseThe Green Party claim that industrial farming is the cause of mutations like swine flu is mostly false.While most people were wondering if they should shake hands with a new acquaintance, or asking if their office mate’s new tan came from Mexico, the B.C. Green Party saw a political opportunity in the uncertainty surrounding swine flu. The Green Party’s environmental platform, encourages small scale and organic farming.

In a news release, the Green Party claimed,“B.C.’s Agricultural Policies Increase Our Risk of Swine Flu.” It goes on to say, “all a pathogen like swine flu needs in order to mutate into a dangerous form is overcrowded conditions.”

We asked leader Jane Sterk to explain what the release means, she said, "we have this risk of pandemic on all kinds of different fronts, worldwide, and there is this transition from animals to humans and so when you put animals in unhealthy conditions it's more likely that those mutations and jumps will be made to humans."

We wanted to check out if that was true.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 | 03:28 PM PT

Mostly falseThe NDP claim that "loophole" in the Residential Tenancy Act leading to "renovictions" is the fault of the Campbell government is mostly false. Driving through the West End of Vancouver it’s easy to be a little jealous of the people who live in the high-rise apartments over-looking English Bay. they seem to have it all: a diverse neighbourhood, beach access, and affordable rent.

But the affordable rent part is changing, and according to NDP leader Carole James, it’s because of a “loophole” in the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA.)

Is it true, as the NDP claims, landlords are allowed to toss tenants out and increase the rent for minor renovations?

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 | 11:18 AM PT

Half trueBoth the Liberals' and the NDP's claims about “run of the river” IPPs are Half True.British Columbians are hungry for power. Take a moment and think about how much electricity you use from the moment your (likely) digital alarm clock wakes you up until you switch off your bedside lamp at night.

If you’ve tuned in to this provincial election campaign, you’ve probably heard of Independent Power Projects (IPPs) or “run of the river.” That’s when the province grants a private company access to a river to build small-scale hydro project under contract.

Both parties have taken to releasing their own version of “Reality Check,” and the NDP version on this issue says, “the BC Liberals have sold the water rights to 120 B.C. rivers and waterways.”

The Liberal version says, “the public maintains ownership of the water and the river at all times.”

In this case, both might be true, but neither party’s release talk about the North American Free Trade Agreement, and how it applies to IPPs.

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Friday, April 24, 2009 | 04:28 PM PT

Mostly TrueThe Liberal claim that the Campbell government has created more jobs in Canada than any other jurisdiction in the country is Generally True.For years, before the current economic slowdown, going to Alberta was like going to a job fair: signs in front of everything from hotels to hot dog stands screamed things like “$20 an hour” and “flexible schedule.”

So when B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell said not once, but twice, during a radio debate Thursday, that, “we've created more jobs in the province than any other jurisdiction in the country in the last eight years” we at Reality Check thought that was worth a second look.

Sure, B.C.’s economy was red-hot for parts of the eight years Campbell has been in power, but it seemed unlikely to is B.C. had created more jobs than Alberta with its oilsands and a construction boom of their own. We checked the numbers from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. That’s the number that everyone, the politicians and the media, quotes when making claims like Campbell’s.

But that number doesn’t count the number of jobs, it counts the number of people with a job: if you have two or three part-time jobs, you’ll only count as employed once in the Labour Force Survey. Keeping that in mind, the number of people employed in B.C. between 2000 and 2008 increased by 380,000, or 20 per cent.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 02:55 PM PT

It’s no surprise politicians on the campaign trail in B.C. are trying to be green this Earth Day. While the economy may have taken a front seat this election, the environment is an issue that has a lasting resonance with voters.

When Liberal leader Gordon Campbell announced, in honour of Earth Day, his team wouldn’t be flying anywhere for the day, it seemed like a green idea. But it was a political one too, as it was in contrast to NDP leader Carole James itinerary for Earth Day where she would be in the air over some of the controversial, “run of the river,” power projects.

Both leaders have been rattling off ways they are making their campaigns greener: the NDP has banned bottled water and provided refillable containers on their bus and say they are running a campaign which is as “paperless” as possible. The Liberals say their lawn signs are biodegradable and their planes are more fuel efficient than the last election.

That got our Reality Check team wondering how green the campaigns really are. We decided to focus on the leader’s travel, so that’s the plane and bus emissions so far, and see if their green promise is the reality.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | 03:42 PM PT

Mostly TrueThe NDP claim that the number of homeless in B.C. has doubled - even tripled - since 2002 is Generally True.No matter where you live in B.C., you’ve probably noticed someone in your community who doesn’t have a home to call their own- whether that’s the person asking for spare change at the end of the block, or the person whose only shelter is the one given by a different friend each night. Most people would agree the problem seems to be getting worse.

As Carol James said last week on the campaign trail, "When we take a look at the homeless issue across British Columbia, people used to think it was a Downtown East Side Vancouver issue, but in the five years I have traveled the province, I have seen homelessness double, triple in some communities, and now impacting every city and town across this province, it's not simply a Vancouver issue. It's an issue across British Columbia."

But exactly how many of these people are there? No one really knows the answer, but the NDP is campaigning on this: under Gordon Campbell’s government, homelessness has gone up by 364 per cent. That’s what it says in their platform. Is that true? Well, mostly, and depending on how, and who, you count.

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Monday, April 20, 2009 | 03:16 PM PT

Mostly falseThe NDP claim that the Campbell "gas tax" has caused greenhouse gas emissions to go up is mostly false.Carole James’ announcement that she would get rid of the Campbell government’s carbon tax has created quite a stir.

While James says it is "unfair to working British Columbians, and won't help the environment. Environmentalists, like David Suzuki, were calling on her party to reverse that position.

Recently, and on two separate occasions, James argued the tax wasn’t doing anything to reduce carbon emissions. At the release of the NDP platform on April 9, 2009 she said, "the irony is that the fuel tax isn't effective. Fuel use actually went up last year."

And again, on April 16, 2009, she said “we’ve now had a year with that gas tax. And what have we seen. We’ve seen fuel use and resulting emissions increase last year by four percent. ”

We wanted to put her claim under the microscope: have carbon emissions in B.C. gone up by four percent since the carbon tax was introduced in July 2008?

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Thursday, April 16, 2009 | 04:13 PM PT

Half trueThe Liberal Claim of B.C.'s economy going from one the weakest to one of the strongest in Canada is Half-True.Though the official campaign started on Tuesday, the campaigning has been going on unofficially for weeks.

A Liberal ad, which you can watch here, was launched before the writ dropped, and it states “we’ve come a long way in the last eight years, from being the weakest economy in Canada, to one of the strongest.”

The ad is called, Keep B.C. Strong.

We wanted to check the reality of their ad's claim so we started by crunching the numbers.

Knowing which numbers to crunch was a little tricky: which numbers did they use when they said we were “the weakest economy in Canada?”

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