Don’t forget the pain in face of new promises

One can’t help but wonder what will happen once the provincial election is over.

One can’t help but wonder what will happen once the provincial election is over.

Given the track record of the governments, one suspects a lot of the largesse now being promised will quickly dry up.

It’s a time-worn tradition for the party in power, in the months leading up to an election, to give away or re-announce a whole bunch of money for stuff.

It’s a way to pretend they’re doing the business of governing, when it’s really campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime.

Usually the sudden pot of money that seems to be available for a whole host of popular things was accrued through previous years of cuts and fee increases. And it’s all our money. But we’re supposed to forget the years of pain.

What particularly inspired this editorial was an announcement this week that a new fund (the Rural Education Enhancement Fund) is being created to help keep rural schools open.

This after more than a decade of school closures enforced by the provincial government through strict no-deficit laws that left school boards no choice but to make the terrible decisions to close beloved community schools, most of them in small, rural areas.

The Cowichan Lake area has certainly felt the pain. Yount School at Youbou was closed. A.B. Greenwell was shuttered due to mould, then never re-opened. Lake Cowichan School has become grades 4 to 12, while Palsson is K-4.

At one time Cowichan Lake even had its own school board.

It’s no coincidence that the list of still-existing schools that qualify to apply to the program is tiny at a total of just nine.

Now, all of a sudden, the government cares about the devastating effects closing the only school can have on an entire community.

And let’s not forget all of the caveats. To qualify, schools must be in a community of no more than 15,000, the closure would eliminate specific grades within the community and, significantly, closures due to the condition of the school building or extreme enrolment decline are not included.

With the above list they’ve given themselves plenty of ‘outs’ to ensure they’ll never have to turn over so much as a dime.

It’s easy to see that neither of the schools closed at the Lake would have been saved by the new fund, falling under the condition of the school building and the enrolment decline loopholes, respectively.

Declining enrolment is why most schools are slated for closure. So what constitutes “extreme”? Our guess would be convenience.

It’s not just cynicism rearing its head when we suggest people take a critical look at political pronouncements from now until next fall.

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