Protection of the Public

In his late night TV address on May 1, 2011, Stephen Harper reaffirmed that, “Protection of the public is the first and most important duty of government.” He was of course stating this in the context of the news of bin Laden’s death.

I don’t know about you but I found this interesting because clearly the eyes of senior governments too often stray from the “protection of the public”, and yet this is the primary reason we elect politicians.

The Canadian public continues to be victimized by an assortment of outdated and ineffective policy, regulations, legislation and officials.

For example, warranty insurance programs for homeowners fail miserably to protect the public right across the nation. They only succeed in minimizing the liability of an industry that has been allowed for decades to continue building sub-standard product to low standards.

Weak-kneed provincial governments enable this, forgetting whom they represent.

Since the responsibility for homeowner protection was downloaded from the feds in the late eighties (remember CMHC inspections?), things have got progressively worse.

In British Columbia the responsibility for homeowner protection has been handed off to a bunch of government appointees, heavily tied to the very industry that the public is supposed to be protected from.

The dismantling of the Homeowner Protection Office clearly demonstrated the lack of government commitment to protecting the public as required by a feeble Homeowner Protection Act. The fact that no reliable or meaningful performance measurements are available translates to zero accountability. 

Making the protection of the public (families) the most important duty of government now needs to be reaffirmed by the province.

Let’s hope that the political parties in BC make this a priority before the next election; that is before they have filled their election war chests with a chunk of the donated spoils of the building, insurance and banking industries; their largest contributors.

Political will (duty to public)  Vs. “cut-off-the-hand-that-feeds-you”? Hmm!

I’m of the opinion that the responsibility for homeowner protection should be at arms length from anyone with involvement in the building, insurance or banking industry.

One particular organization seems natural for this “Protection of the Public” task: Consumer Protection BC.

In addition, the performance of the residential construction industry towards meeting consumer expectations should be measured by a body independent of these industries because improvements have been few and far between, and there has been no accountability. Ditto enforcement on behalf of the public.

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