We had another taste of winter last week, what one colleague referred to as Jack Knox weather: cold, windy and bitter.
It was a good opportunity to tackle some correspondence, though. Here goes:
To Finance Minister Katrine Conroy
The Ledge, Victoria, B.C.
I note that you plan to introduce the next provincial budget Tuesday. Should your spending plan be similar to last year’s, it will come in at somewhere around $71 billion. That works out to roughly $14,200 for every British Columbian, even Jimmy Pattison and Chip Wilson, who probably don’t need it.
I wish to inform you that I would like my $14,200 spent in the following manner:
• A new old battered pickup truck. ($4,500)
• A week’s worth of gas for the same. ($4,600)
• Travel expenses to my new home in Edmonton, where the benchmark price for a single-family detached house is $422,000 vs. $1.25 million in the Victoria core.
• Travel expenses back from Edmonton. (Who cares how cheap the houses are? It was minus 40 with the wind chill this week.)
• Travel expenses to some warm-weather snowbird haven in the U.S. ($750) and a down payment ($2,300) on the hospital bill for the uninsured gunshot wound I’ll get there.
• Three heads of lettuce. ($850)
To Premier David Eby
What a wonderful surprise it must have been to find an extra $5.7 billion in the provincial coffers! Apparently it was down the back of the couch, along with the spare keys to the old Toyota and a couple of lint-covered cough candies.
We read that you plan to spend this windfall on housing, doctors’ pay, pools, roads, emergency preparedness….
May I suggest some alternatives?
• Taking the fiscally responsible route and paying down B.C.’s accumulated taxpayer-supported debt of more than $60 billion.
• Taking the fiscally irresponsible route and throwing a massive kegger like we did with the 2010 Olympics, which you must admit was a lot of fun.
• The Green Party just pitched an idea in which British Columbians would work a four-day week but continue to be paid for five, with employers compensated via tax breaks/fairy dust. Why not a three-day week? Or, in the case of ferry captains and family doctors, eight. Big vote-getter. You’re welcome.
To Prime Minister Trudeau 2.0
Statistics Canada has calculated the net worth of the average Canadian household to be $941,000, a figure arrived at by pooling all our assets — real estate, stocks, pensions, money under the mattress, lettuce — subtracting our debts, then looking at the results and going “jeez, that can’t be right.”
Having recently invested unwisely in snow tires, Connor McDavid jerseys and I Heart Pipelines bumper stickers, I find myself in a temporary cash-flow crisis, and would therefore like to offer to sell you my portion of Canada’s assets in any one of the following forms:
• My time-share slot in the Wellington Street hot tub.
• A gently perforated Chinese spy balloon.
• The complete King of Kensington on VHS.
• My personal slice of government debt, which in 2021 stood at $76,135 per capita. (That is not a joke, though I wish it were.)
To Jeff Bezos,
The Bat Cave, Amazonia
First, let me compliment you on the fleet of spiffy new delivery vans now trundling down every single street in Victoria. I mean, are you actually cloning them? They’re like Agent Smith in The Matrix.
Second, I hope to interest you, as a savvy businessman, in a unique opportunity to buy — no, let’s change that to “invest in” — three heads of lettuce that recently came into my possession. As you know, the price of produce has soared recently. At the current rate of appreciation, your lettuce could double in value by this time next year.
To Dave Obee,
editor and publisher, the Times Colonist
I understand there is pressure from certain quarters (OK, my colleagues) to replace me with that fancy new ChatGPT bot that uses artificial intelligence to generate written content.
I must protest. While it is true that a bot will never phone in sick with the Friday flu, steal company toilet paper, drop all its Christmas cards in the outgoing mail tray, pilfer co-workers’ lunches, encourage angry callers to perform physically improbable feats when it thinks it has put them on hold, or spend half an hour with its feet on its desk, whining about how hard done by it is, could you really trust artificial intelligence not to do something stupid like end a column in mid-