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B.C. Green politicians become major power brokers with savvy tactics and principled stands
BC to defend Kinder Morgan in one court, after opposing it in another
Due to an absurd legal twist, the new NDP government in B.C. has opposed the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in one courtroom while preparing to defend the expansion in another.
Minister says government remains opposed to pipeline expansion
Heyman said earlier in an interview that he understands why some people would think the two legal positions are contradictory and he has sympathy for people who are trying to make sense of it.
“We remain opposed to the project. We think it’s bad for British Columbians, bad for our economy, bad for our traditional marine harvest and other forms of marine activity,” Heyman said, but was unwavering in his assertion that the province must defend the actions of the Liberal government in court.
But Stacey said the government has another option: it could lay out the evidence in the case, but not take a position.
Clogg agrees the province has other options and said she would like to see a meaningful dialogue and process for consultation with First Nations and local governments.
“B.C. still has a myriad of other permits and approvals and unless they’re just going to rubber stamp them all and throw up their hands and say there’s nothing we can do, … it’s time for them to start collaborating with Indigenous peoples and with local governments,” she said. “I think that the province is really going to be under fire.”
Lawyer for Squamish Nation gives another option
Matthew Kirchner, a lawyer representing the Squamish First Nation in both the federal and provincial Kinder Morgan cases, says if the Attorney General reviewed the consultation process and decided it wasn’t up to standard, he should tell the court.
“My view of it is that it is not for the Attorney General to defend provincial conduct in all circumstances, simply because the Squamish are asserting it was not in keeping with the honour of the Crown,” Kirchner said. “If the Attorney General reaches a conclusion, based on his own analysis of the facts … that the provincial officials didn’t meet the standards, then he shouldn’t be defending them in court.”
The City of Vancouver has also filed a case in B.C. Supreme Court challenging the environmental certificate, charging inadequate notice and public consultation. The Ministry of Environment said that in that case, it will present the record and comment only on the standard of review. The reason it can do that in the case against the city, but not against the Squamish again comes down to the honour of the Crown, which doesn’t apply in the case brought by Vancouver.
Stacey said the case against the Squamish is also problematic because the government has promised to forge a new and better relationship with Indigenous people.
“This doesn’t seem to get this off to a very good start,” she said.
But Heyman said the government’s commitment to reconciliation and partnerships with First Nations is firm.
What significant accomplishments did John Rustad achieve as Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation for the BC Liberals? Just askin'
And Horgan gets a B+
BC NDP earns a ‘B’ grade on first 100 days in power: Baldrey
Video: Matriarch Camp
Occupation of B.C. Premier John Horgan's Office on Lekwungen territory, in solidarity with 'Namgis and Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw salmon protectors who are occupying open-net Fish Farms operated by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest at Midsummer Island and Swanson Island in the Broughton Archipelago. Indigenous consent has never been given to these Atlantic salmon farms. Removal of the fish farms has been requested by the Nations on whose territories they illegally operate.
Fuck the poor, say the Greens
Greens Want NDP to Kill Promised $400 Renters’ Grant
People don't know Harry if they think this will be stalled.
I have confidence our Labour Minister will deliver sooner rather than later.
If the rumours are true and the Site C decision will be announced soon, maybe even tomorrow then it will probably be going ahead due to to the billions already committed to the project by the Liberals Somebody has to do the math on behalf of the citizens of BC. Initially I think the idea for the power was to supply the now non-existent LNG projects Alternatively we can probably sell a lot of the power to Alberta to help the reduce their need for coal, so it could be a double environmental win as well, as Site C uses a renewable resource to create the power - water! We are so fortunate with our renewable water resouce dams in BC as opposed to using nuclear power and the horrific problems associated with that.
With or Without Site C, BC Needs More Clean Electricity
Clean energy development must be tied to robust climate plan on a much greater scale.
Brown is the one political commentator who seems to have his finger squarely on the pulse of the overall political life in BC.
The state of play in B.C. politics
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Such is the state of play for the B.C. Liberals as 2017 rapidly rolls to a close.
The poor buggers. It’s bad enough they blew the election and humiliated themselves with the ludicrous “clone speech” that cost Christy Clark her job and punctuated their tortured march to the ignominy of opposition.
Yet the real rub is this: after five months in office, despite some relatively minor missteps and the slow pace of progress on some key files like housing, child care, and the $15 minimum wage, Premier John Horgan’s NDP government has mostly exceeded expectations.
So has its working relationship with Andrew Weaver’s B.C. Greens. They have also performed admirably, in holding the government to account in opposition, while proving themselves to be constructive and compelling partners in a legislative alliance that is building public confidence in B.C.’s first minority government in the last 65 years and 17 elections.
It’s still early days, I know, to be rushing to judgment on the new government’s performance. The real test will come soon enough, with next year’s budget and legislative session, with a new Liberal leader in place, and with the referendum next fall on electoral reform.
Nevertheless, Horgan has been a model of principled, pragmatic leadership, ably supported by a mostly impressive cabinet.
His government has thus far projected all that its partisan opposites claimed the NDP would never offer: intelligence, competence, strength, stability, pragmatism, professionalism, experience, prudence, compassion, and perhaps above all, humility.
Most of those adjectives would equally apply to Team Weaver, which has already done more to institutionalize the Green Party as a smart, viable, and refreshingly cooperative force for progressive change than any of its Canadian counterparts have done.
To most British Columbians and Canadians, Horgan’s New Democrats have come across as anything but the starry-eyed, job-killing, tax-happy, fiscally irresponsible, “socialist radicals” that the Liberals had long branded them as being.
If anything, the Horgan administration has been innately cautious and consultative—arguably, to a fault. Its tepid first steps on the lobbyist rules and restrictions, for example, appear to be more concerned with protecting the advantages of NDP insiders than with promptly acting on the specific reforms that the Registrar of Lobbyists long ago recommended.
Andrew Weaver and John Horgan have held things together in B.C.'s first minority government in 65 years.
Like any new government, the NDP has missed the mark on a few measures, from its glacial response to the affordable housing crisis, to its pseudo “ban” on grizzly trophy hunting, to its broken promise on the role of public subsidies in campaign finance reform. (See related stories.)
It reneged on its election promise to bring ride-hailing to B.C. by the end of this year. And although the NDP has honoured its commitment to facilitate a provincewide vote on proportional representation, its shoddy referendum process has been rightly and widely criticized by academics and pundits alike.
The chickens may yet come home to roost on those issues, along with its imminent decision on the Site C dam, whichever way it goes, and with the unpopular changes that will have to be taken to put ICBC back in the black. The pot file is also a tough one, guaranteed to generate criticism, however deftly the NDP continues to manage that transition to legalize nonmedical cannabis, next July.
As new governments go, however, the NDP’s first crack at governing in 16 years has mostly gone swimmingly. And all the more so because of how it has defied the Liberals’ low expectations, as it has also put the lie to their false claims about the NDP and exposed their own ineptitude on everything from the blight of foreign money laundering to ICBC’s current path to insolvency.
For the most part, the GreeNDP alliance has offered new hope to the 57 percent of voters who supported those parties. Most of us are elated that the NDP is methodically honouring the election promises that formed the basis of its power-sharing agreementwith the Greens.
Even many traditional Liberal voters are happy with the NDP’s early actions on a wide array of issues that begged for government leadership. They include the following:
All of that and more has been initiated within the context of a balanced budget that has bolstered job creation, maintained B.C.’s triple-A credit rating, and strengthened investor confidence in B.C.’s economy, which continues to be among the strongest in Canada.
Politically, whatever fallout ensues from the NDP’s Site C decision, I predict it won’t do much to diminish that progress in most voters’ minds. For much as it might pain the very vocal detractors of that project, if it is given the green light, or pisses off its mostly passive supporters, if it is given the red light, either way, it’s a decision that is unlikely to be a major vote-changer in 2021.
Heresy! I know, for the passionate tweeters and others who have fought so hard to convince Horgan of their position, with all manner of political threats and arguments. Yet the fact remains, whatever its very real material import, the fate of Site C is not an issue on the scale of others, like affordable housing or the NDP’s promises on childcare, that is a burning concern for the masses.
Even if Horgan approves Site C, as I expect he will, most voters who want a centre-left government won’t be dissuaded from re-electing the GreeNDP when push comes to shove. And more than a handful of soft Liberal voters might welcome that decision.
To the extent that those swing voters are otherwise content with the NDP’s more socially progressive policy agenda, they may well flock in even greater numbers to support the Horgan government. If an election were held today, the NDP would slaughter the competition and win a massive majority.
All of which must be really rotting the Liberals’ tattered, red Christmas socks. Especially since their party leadership contest has done so little to generate public interest or attention.
At this point, none of the six leadership contenders look like the answer to the Liberals’ prayers. They are all about as convincing as Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character, staring diffidently into the mirror, repeating their daily affirmation, “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
Has Weaver even visited the Kootenays?
Green Leader Andrew Weaver suggests recall campaign of NDP energy minister if Site C approved
The one thing you can count on, guaranteed with Horgan's decision to sort out the Liberal horrific Site C mess, is that the CBC will not take long to begin writing negative articles about the NDP decision.
So, contrary to all the BS that is floating around, Site C won't be nearly enough to supply the demands for power in the future. Who knew!
Horgan is just making a stab at cleaning up Christy Clark's mess.
BC NDP’s decision on Site C is mainly a matter of politics
They included reports that the growing electrification of the province would mean energy demand vastly exceeded what Site C offered. In fact, to meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord, not to mention the switch industry is making to clean electricity, the province would need the equivalent of nine Site Cs – and possibly more – to meet day-to-day requirements by 2050, a Clean Energy conference was told recently. Environmentalists have long argued there wasn't the energy demand to justify the damage dam construction would cause to the Peace River area. Now, experts are suggesting just the opposite is true; Site C won't provide nearly enough.
Thanks to the pot smokers BC’s tax revenue in selling B.C. Bud will easily offset any cost overruns for Site C
Site C could be a political game changer.
As Brown was quoted in an earlier post here today, if an election were held now in BC, the NDP would win a massive majority
If Horgan and Weaver play their cards right, the next election could result in the NDP forming government with the Greens as official opposition
Congratulations to John, Michelle, George and the entire NDP for making the tough decision to sort out the mess left behind by the Liberals, and which was done in the best interests of all BCers.
Let’s call it the ‘Dave Barrett Dam’
BC trivia: The NDP government re-named the Second Narrows Crossing Bridge the ‘Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing Bridge in 1994
Bye, bye Diane Watts for BC Liberal leader, as Gordie Hogg is taking your old seat in Surrey White Rock by-election tonite.
Which other political leaders can top Weaver's making a complete ass of himself and the BC Greens today with his stupid rant!
And of course CKNW carried Weaver's BS this morning.
Weaver accuse Horgan of making the Site C decision in June before the BCUC report.
But Horgan made the comments Weaver was referring to several years ago. Actually around the same time that Weaver said that Weaver and the BC Greens were in favour of Site C.
So as I look across the provincial political landscape in BC this morning there is one winner - the BC NDP, and two losers, the BC liberals and the BC Greens.
Recall on Site C, Andrew Weaver? Seriously? Careful what you wish for
Four years from now, punishing the NDP for this decision will not be top-of-mind for many voters. Nor will it be reason enough for most New Democrats to further risk electing the Liberals by abandoning the NDP in droves. Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face is never smart. Even today’s angriest N-dippers surely aren’t that stupid.
Besides, truth is, Weaver could have stopped Site C dead in its tracks if it he had been truly committed to that outcome.
The Greens could have made its cancellation a precondition for their legislative support for Horgan’s minority government. They didn’t. It just wasn’t a make-or-break issue for them, then or now.
Don’t think for a second that the New Democrats would not have bowed to the Greens’ demands to tube Site C back in May, if Weaver’s wonders had ever insisted upon it as their price for power. Weaver, of all people, knows he had them by the short and curlies, and that they would have acceded to almost anything to win his party’s support to tip the balance of power.
As someone who so visibly supported Site C when it was first officially launched by then premier Gordon Campbell, back in early 2010, Weaver has always been conflicted in his newfound opposition. One wonders whether he would have stuck with his endorsement had he not joined the Greens. Methinks he would have.
Don’t imagine that somehow his three-member caucus will now find its holier-than-thou moral compass, or its missing-in-action political backbone to bring down the NDP government for its “unconscionable betrayal” of a promise that never was.
No, when push comes to shove, Site C is more about politics for the Greens than it ever was a righteous hill to die upon. Its approval is as much a political blessing as it is a principled curse.
Nothing demonstrates that more than Andrew Weaver’s widely reported tweet advocating the recall of NDP energy minister, Michelle Mungall.
He wrote this:
“Let's have a look what our energy minister said about Site C on July 9, 2016: facebook.com/AndrewWeaverML… I would suggest a recall campaign in Nelson-Creston would be in order if Site C is approved on her watch as energy minister.”
I take it he likely sent that with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. If so, it was a reckless gesture that minimizes the seriousness of recall as a tool to force the removal of an elected member.
If not, it raises some interesting questions about the Greens’ standard for justifying a recall effort. It is also worth thinking about how Weaver’s suggested recall campaign might play out, if anyone actually ran with the idea.
Fact is, of all parties, it is the Greens—not the NDP or the Liberals—that stands to lose the most by any serious attempt at recalling NDP MLAs.
As a skilled chess player, Weaver should know that he is playing with fire by advocating that tactic to supposedly punish Michelle Mungall for doing as he did, and changing her personal position on Site C, albeit in the opposite direction.
Under the Recall and Initiative Act, any member can be recalled by a petition signed by more than 40 percent of the total number of individuals who were registered voters in the member’s electoral district at the time of the last election, and who are registered voters in that district on the date that they sign the petition.
Bear in mind, “no application for the issuance of a recall petition may be made during the 18 months following general voting day for the last election of the Member.”
That means that the earliest date that any MLA could be subject to a recall campaign would be November 2018—smack dab in the middle of the referendum on proportional representation.
How very interesting.
Weaver suggests recalling Mungall. Why not then, at the earliest opportunity?
And what if the Liberals also embraced his recommendation to achieve the same end, by also targeting one or more other rural NDP MLAs for recall while they are at it?
Assuming the Liberals’ Ben Stewart wins the February by-election in Christy Clark’s vacant seat in Kelowna West, it would only take two more seats to topple the GreeNDP alliance.
Mungall, Weaver is suggesting, might as well be one of them.
Seriously? Is that what he and his party want? With their cherished new system of proportional representation hanging in the balance?
Checkmate, I say.
The Liberals have essentially been given all the “moral” licence they need from Weaver to recall almost any NDP MLA they think might be vulnerable. They could only pray for an apoplectic Site C opponent to launch that recall petition in Nelson-Creston, as Weaver has suggested.
No matter who wins the Liberal leadership, he or she will be hell-bent on defeating proportional representation.
One of their strongest arguments will be how that system affects rural communities and ridings. It will dramatically increase the size of already huge ridings and it will demand multimember constituencies that might further reduce local representation and MLAs’ accountability to their constituents. And it will certainly even more strongly advantage Metro Vancouver.
In addition to Mungall, the Liberals might target sitting NDP MLAs like Katrine Conroy (Kootenay West), Doug Donaldson (Stikine), Scott Fraser (Mid Island-Pacific Rim), Jennifer Rice (North Coast), Nick Simons (Powell River-Sunshine Coast), and Claire Trevena (North Island).
Ronna-Rae Leonard (Courtenay-Comox) would be the most obvious target, as the one who essentially deprived the Liberals of their majority by “stealing” their long-held seat, by a winning margin of only 189 votes.
To be clear, I am certainly not advocating any such recall effort. I am only pointing out the hazards for those on the left who might see it as a way of meting out justice to any NDP MLA for their role in supporting their government’s decision on Site C.
The Liberals would not rely on Site C as their rationale for recall, of course. But they might well pin their initiatives on the NDP’s widely disparaged process for deciding how our votes count.
They could target those rural or other even more vulnerable NDP MLAs for recall, citing an egregious abuse of democratic process. The GreeNDP’s deeply flawed legislation to facilitate that otherwise welcome vote on electoral reform has no shortage of critics.
It will allow a simple majority of those casting ballots to decide the fate of the rural residents who will be most materially impacted by any model of proportional representation. Those votes will be numerically swamped by the population dense areas in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria.
Unlike the last two votes on electoral reform, in 2005 and 2009, there will be no requirement for a double majority to pass.
Those votes required any change to adopt STV to garner the support of at least 60 percent of all voters’ support provincewide. To pass, they also required STV to win a majority in at least 60 percent of the province’s ridings.
As we all know, STV fell just short of that mark the first time around, with 57.69 percent support. It was well short of the winning threshold the second time, with only 39.09 percent support.
Importantly, in 2009, STV only won a bare majority support in eight of B.C.’s then 85 electoral districts. None of those ridings were outside of Metro Vancouver or Victoria.
All of the seats that might be ready recall targets noted above voted emphatically “no” in 2009. Yet this time around, the GreeNDP is content to let those constituents’ regional voices be easily overwhelmed by the vast majority of eligible voters in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria.
Supported by Weaver’s Greens, the NDP introduced and passed its politically self-interested law with absolutely no input from any British Columbians, with no regard for rural communities, and with no minimal threshold for voting turnout.
No matter how many voters ultimately cast their mail-in ballots, a bare majority of all votes provincewide will be all it takes to win the day. Likely with a multiple-choice ballot that even further advantages some form of proportional representation.
It will be one vote for first-past-the-post, with all second choices only going to one form or other of p.r.
That’s not right and it’s not fair. And for many British Columbians, me included, it is a much, much bigger deal than the NDP’s logical decision to proceed with Site C.
If all that is not enough to give Andrew Weaver pause to reflect on his suggested recall response, there is also the issue of public subsidies for political parties.
As I have written before on these pages (see related stories), that broken NDP promise is also one that the new Liberal leader will be able to exploit in his or her fight against proportional representation. Todd Stone especially.
It could be one more reason cited by Liberals to push for recall, as a deliberate strategy to nuke proportional representation, either before or after the referendum.
Don’t forget, the new law prescribes that a new electoral system would not be put in place until 2021, if it passes in the referendum. Between that time, next November, and the next set election, on October 15, 2021, there will be three years to organize recall efforts.
If only two of those recall campaigns were successful, the government would fall. And Weaver has already supported one of them.
Now think of this: what if John Horgan’s NDP is doing well in the opinion polls?
What if Horgan determines that his odds are good of winning a majority government under the current electoral system, knowing that he will never be able to do that under proportional representation? After all, it would virtually guarantee that the best that the NDP could ever hope for was a minority government.
Bizarrely, even Horgan might secretly welcome a recall effort on one or more of his MLAs, as an excuse for short-circuiting his GreeNDP alliance and for triggering an election that is ostensibly aimed at earning a clear mandate.
He would never let a recall effort succeed, if he actually thought it stood a remote chance of drumming his party out of office, tail between its legs.
If the Greens go sideways, and go after one of his cabinet members in a recall campaign, he could legitimately say, “All deals are off. You did that, Andrew Weaver.” And drop the writ.
And if the Liberals try to launch their own recall efforts to head off the referendum on proportional representation, Horgan could respond: OK, let’s test that point. Let’s cut to the chase, let’s avoid the recall “fun and games”, and let’s have a provincial election. If we, the NDP, win, we will enact our specifically preferred model of p.r. for the next election. Full stop.
The NDP’s preferred model of p.r. is likely a mixed member proportional system. That would not likely be the Greens’ first choice.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Weaver’s push for recall was the inadvertent catalyst that triggered an election he doesn’t want, at any cost, before proportional representation is implemented? One that also risks inviting a new Liberal government, or perhaps a majority NDP government that might either impose its preferred system of p.r. or abandon the idea altogether?
Such is the folly of attacking the NDP’s prudent decision on Site C with threats of recall.
Weaver needs to reframe his rash tweet on that score, pretty damn quick, or live with the consequences.
What did it take, 2 seconds, for Baldrey to pile on with his Weaver's BS!
Ah yes, recall, the parting gift from the old Social Credit. A nearly useless, feel-good measure of 90's right-wing populism. I wish there was a way to just get rid of it.
Activists calling themselves the Justin Trudeau Brigade block access to Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby
Kinder Morgan is pulling a fast one on us
B.C. NDP politicians justify Site C decision in personal messages to constituents
The Pipeline Tyrants
NEB ruling that Kinder Morgan can ignore Burnaby bylaws just latest injustice.
Site C was tough decision, now it's time to make best use of project
Horgan's year was happy in public, grieving in private
For Premier John Horgan, a defining moment in deciding the fate of the controversial Site C dam didn’t occur during a cabinet meeting or in a high-level discussion with a powerful business leader or a senior policy chief.
It happened at the Vancouver airport, when a Site C worker stormed up to him to demand that Horgan not kill the project that provided his livelihood.
“I don’t even know his name,” Horgan said in a year-end interview.
“But he said, ‘You can’t stop this project. You’re a crazy man if you do.’ I listened to him politely, but he was very agitated. He was working on the project and this is how he feeds his family and pays his bills.”
As Horgan talked to the Site C worker, a crowd of curious onlookers gathered.
“A couple of people turned into a dozen people and that turned into about 30 people,” Horgan said.
“Finally I said, ‘Look, it’s not just about you, dude. It’s about four-and-half million people.’ All of a sudden there was clapping, and that’s when I turned around and saw all these people watching me engage with this guy.
“It was a defining moment for me because I realized it was not about me telling him, ‘I’m going to kill Site C’ or ‘I’m going to build Site C.’ It was, ‘It’s not about you or me. It’s about all of us.’ ”
At the time, Horgan was in the middle of a tug of war between forces that wanted to cancel the $10.7-billion megaproject and those pressuring him to complete it.
The dam was started by Christy Clark’s previous Liberal government and Horgan’s NDP criticized it as too expensive, too damaging to the environment and agricultural land and that B.C. didn’t need the power.
But Horgan announced last week his government will complete construction of the dam anyway, angering environmentalists and key First Nations opposed to it.
He repeated his key reason for forging ahead: The government would have been saddled with $4 billion in unsecured debt if they had cancelled it, triggering a 12-per-cent B.C. Hydro rate hike, and a possible credit downgrade by bond-rating agencies that would have drove up interest rates on the province’s long-term debt.
He said that would have prevented the government from delivering on other commitments like housing and child care.
“That’s where the evidence took us,” he said. “It’s what’s best for the whole province overall, not just one person or one group.”
Vancouver port workers rally against controversial border pre-clearance changes
John Horgan isn’t the real villain in the Site C piece
We need Horgan’s kind of leadership
Guns and butter: can the NDP government afford Site C dam and make housing more affordable?
Appears that some folks in BC are smoking BC Bud before it becomes legal on July 1st.
David Eby's dilemma in the wake of Site C
The Tyee appears to be in a league of its own in BC in relation to progressive journalism.
BC’s Massive Tax Giveaway to the Rich
Over 16 years, our system has been reshaped to favour the top one per cent of households.
16 years is a long time to wait so the NDP needs to quickly make up for lost time to even the score and govern in the best interests for the working people, all of the people, in BC.
Horgan likely to make good on no-BS promise to unionized building trades
Than you John Horgan and the NDP Government
B.C. Bans Grizzly Hunt for Trophies and Meat, But Indigenous Practices to Continue
This BC campaign for PR is going to get down and dirty, with the Liberals vehemently opposed, and people like Bill Tieleman strongly opposed as well. It is going to be vicious battle and no one at this point knows for sure which side will win.
The B.C. Liberal leadership review—Job One is defeating PR
In this leadership contest, I suspect that dynamic will ultimately work against the presumed frontrunner, Dianne Watts—quite the opposite to how it worked in Clark’s favour in 2011. Especially if the “anyone but Watts” crowd rallies around, at most, one or two of her opponents .
The key to any candidate’s success is obviously to win the ballot question.
Trouble is, the main issue that is now driving many Liberals to support Watts is not the strategic issue that should matter most in choosing the party’s next leader.
What the party really needs most of all to be competitive and successful in the long run is a leader who can give it the best shot at winning that vote on PR that will take place next fall.
The most important question for B.C. Liberal members is which leadership candidate can defeat proportional representation.
MIKE DE JONG
The Liberals’ top strategic imperative is defeating PR
If the Liberals lose that “mother of all battles”, they will lose their war to “make their world safe for democracy” against the NDP.
Their party and its chances of forming a government will be done like dinner.
Most Liberals still don’t get it: the referendum on PR is for keeps.
If their new leader loses that vote, their party will have zero chance of forming a majority government, not just in 2021, but ever again.
It will have little chance of forming even a minority government for at least another eight years from today.
There is a good reason both the Greens and many New Democrats are so keen on proportional representation and are pushing it as their Holy War to be won at all cost.
They know it will destroy the B.C. Liberal coalition as we now know it and give their parties more combined seats in the legislature.
They know it will shatter B.C.’s “natural governing party” into many smaller ideological pieces that all compete against each other under new parties bent on courting votes from “true” liberals, from social and fiscal conservatives, and from ugly populist movements on the far right.
PR will invite those opposed to immigration, organized labour, LGBT rights, abortion, and socially progressive causes to start their own new parties in the hopes of winning a “proportional voice” in the legislature. Something that should be a very real concern to all British Columbians.
Many of that ilk now vote for the Liberals, as the party closest to their values.
All British Columbians need to consider the long-term risks of amplifying the voices of those far-right extremists, under a new electoral system that accords them direct representation that is proportional to their support.
It might not matter much for the next election, which under PR would virtually assure the Horgan administration of another minority government. After which, John Horgan could happily ride off into the sunset of retirement, having served as premier for eight and a half years and being 66 years of age.
But in subsequent elections, it could be very material.
Even a single MLA representing one of those far-right constituencies could hold the balance of power under a minority government.
PR institutionalizes minority governments. By design, it makes majority governments virtually impossible to achieve.
It encourages a plethora of parties that exist mostly for their unswerving commitments to the ideas, policies, and promises that separate them from the other alternatives.
It encourages parochialism, ideological rigidity, extremism, and populism—not the opposite.
Critics of proportional representation say that it has the potential to undermine rural representation in the legislature.
That is not to suggest that PR does not have other redeeming advantages that might be at least as important and welcome. It does. But that is a subject for another day.
For what it’s worth, I have not yet made up my mind on how I will vote in the referendum on proportional representation.
It will depend on many things—the model(s) proposed, the question, new literacy on the subject, and perhaps above all, the process and its impact on rural ridings.
As I have previously argued in the Straight, the newly legislated process for that referendum stinks, as many others have also argued and explained.
Yet, I remain hopeful and even optimistic that Premier Horgan will remedy that flawed process, at least to some extent.
Like many voters, I am hoping he will do as he did with his government’s initial misstep on the grizzly trophy hunt; that he will strengthen his well-intended and welcome initiative by listening to the criticisms it has elicited and acting accordingly to address them.
If he doesn’t do that, it will add further fuel to the Liberals’ anti-PR campaign. It could sink that initiative altogether, as it also undermines today’s growing public support for Horgan’s NDP government. Particularly in rural communities.
Liberals living in ridings outside Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria should be very concerned with the ways they and their communities will be impacted. Both by the referendum on PR and by that new electoral system, if it is ever implemented.
Virtually any model of PR would mean much larger ridings, each with multiple representatives, and reduced representation in the legislature for those living beyond Hope.
Proportional representation is all about ensuring parties' proportional representation in the legislature reflects the ratio of votes they receive provincewide.
It does the opposite of the Liberals’ own leadership vote process, which discounts “rep by pop” to guarantee equal voting power for each constituency, thereby overweighting representation for ridings in the North, the Interior, and Vancouver Island with lower populations.
PR flips that on its head, by translating each vote equally—as far as possible—into seats in the legislature that are distributed in proportion to the number of votes each party receives in total, across the entire province.
While that might be arguably fairer or more “representative”—depending on how one defines that term—it would most certainly impact rural representation in the legislature in unwanted ways.
All those Liberals casting leadership ballots need to think about that in determining who they really need to lead them, at this critical juncture.
They need to fully realize the gravity of the challenge at hand and what is required to meet it, instead of leaping over the strategic issue that is literally a life-and-death proposition for their party and its future electoral success.
In the next two installments in this series, I will assess who can and cannot fit that bill.
Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact Brown at email@example.com.
Another bonus for the BC NDP is that with their decision to go ahead with Site C is that the Liberals will no longer be able to call the NDP the party of No, as in no jobs, eh, in the scheme of things. All the rest of the issues pros and cons seem to be debatable. Carole James February 2018's budget should help to give BCers a better sense of direction where the province is going with the change from Liberal to a Minority NDP government.
This is probably what did the Liberals in, thank goodness.
Now we finally have, after 16 long years, but better late than never, a government that represents working people. Most voters won't even be thinking about Site C a year from now, and regardless, after the mess he was left with, to proceed with the Dam, was the only realistic choice Premier Horgan could make. In the real world workers want jobs so they can pay their bills which include their hydro bills. By-the-way hydro dams use renewable resources like water. We are truly blessed in BC.
Top 10 provincial political news stories of 2017 in B.C.
All that Sunshine Coast resident Linda Higgins wanted to do was talk to Christy Clark as the premier was campaigning at a North Vancouver grocery store in late April.
But the premier brushed her off in full view of the TV cameras. Later, her closest supporters described Higgins as an NDP plant.
That caused a wave of negative media coverage from the press gallery and other journalists, who leapt to the woman's defence.
All these stories took the B.C. Liberals off their campaign message for a few days and the result was fatal for the ruling party.
It also likely played a role in the defeat of the B.C. Liberal MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Naomi Yamamoto, which gave the GreeNDP alliance the balance of power in the legislature.
NDP makes peace with damming Peace
Site C decision will have ripple effects
In the first genuinely courageous decision I can recall a B.C. government taking in a long time, Premier John Horgan's NDP administration has decided to proceed with the Site C dam.
I call this courageous, because the conventional wisdom is that it will boost the fortunes of the Green Party at the NDP's expense. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver certainly thinks so.
BC Finance Minister today announced MSP Premiums will be reduced 50% effective January 1, 2018.
It was a blast watching the BC Liberals have a meltdown on Twitter. Made politics fun again.
Apart from the Liberals during and shortly after the election in BC, the following behaviour by Andrew Weaver has to be amongst the best political blunders in BC for 2017.
Weaver's attack on Horgan backfires badly
Then, on starting his day on Tuesday, Horgan was confronted by Weaver’s challenge to his own credibility and integrity.
“Mr. Horgan, when he was up in Fort. St. John, told the mayor, Lori Ackerman, to her face, not to worry, the Site C dam is going to go ahead,” claimed Weaver during a morning interview on radio station CKNW.
“We were told that … when we visited on June the 20th of this year, that he had told her and given her assurance that it was going ahead.”
Did Weaver have any proof of his claim? Were there witnesses? asked host Jon McComb.
“My colleagues, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olson were in the room when that was said,” Weaver replied. “It’s why we were suspicious about this decision, because she told us straight to our face.”
If what Weaver claimed to have learned June 20 was true, then Horgan was already determined to proceed with Site C before he took office as premier on July 18 and launched into the months-long review and reconsideration of the project.
So there was Horgan on Monday, announcing what he characterized as “a very difficult decision” to proceed with Site C after a long and protracted process. And there was his partner in power sharing claiming the decision was a foregone conclusion and the exercise a sham.
The denial was not long in coming. “My conversation with (John Horgan) was YEARS ago,” Ackerman declared on Twitter. “About the same time that (Andrew Weaver) was in favour of Site C as well.”
She took a second shot at the Green leader during a radio interview. “If we’re going to have a conversation about what every politician says in an undocumented conversation in my office, then he should be aware that it’ll be every conversation that every politician has had with me.”
Weaver responded on social media. ‘Hello Lori,” he addressed the Fort St. John mayor. “I didn’t realize that your conversation with John Horgan happened years ago. Apologies.”
Such recklessness is too often characteristic of Weaver. But in this case, the Green leader’s attempted assault on the premier’s credibility raised more questions about his own discretion and judgment.
Advantage: Horgan. Particularly with the Liberals ending the year looking for someone to match his leadership and communication skills.
Site C was political decision
Weaver dropped a gift into Horgan’s lap when the project was first considered when he said of the power from Site C: “There is no question, this is clean energy.” Although he says the falling price of wind and solar energy make them more viable, having that “clean energy” comment on the record makes it harder for Weaver to fight the dam, either now or during the next election.
Of course, the Greens and environmentalists are not the only ones fighting the dam.
West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nations immediately said they would file for an injunction to stop the dam.
However, other First Nations were likely to sue if the dam was cancelled because they have more than $100 million in procurement commitments.
About 200 Indigenous workers are employed at the project. Several First Nations have also signed “impact-benefit agreements” that provide cash payments, procurement deals and land transfers.
The contradictory interests of the different First Nations could look to the government like a no-win situation.
Apart from those pros and cons, the government might see some ways to make the dam more salable to those who are on the fence.
Hydro statistics for September showed 49 apprentices out of 2,375 workers that month. Apprentices are the future of the trades in B.C., and training more of them is an investment in that future.
The government promised Monday to ensure more apprentices and First Nations workers are hired.
Similarly, the government could get more buy-in from communities and First Nations by sharing some of the wealth. B.C. Hydro will have to pay water-licence fees. Tucking that money and some of the profits (if there are any) from the electricity into a legacy fund could buy some good will.
Indeed, Horgan announced a new community-benefits program to make sure that local people get something tangible out of the project, and he promised a new B.C. Food Security Fund to support farmers and spur agricultural innovation. The food fund would apply to the whole province, but would be paid for with Site C revenues.
If all these considerations make it appear the decision is political, that’s because it is.
The government had to decide if it could live with the consequences of its go/no-go decision, and then determine what it could do to sell that decision to voters, most of whom are not conversant with the detailed arguments of the two sides.
While Horgan blamed the mess on the previous government, he owns it now.
In cold, political terms, the government bets that by election day in 2021, unless it goes wildly over budget or falls down, the Site C dam will be old news.