Cuevano ~ Jorge Aranda

2017 British Columbia election

If you live in British Columbia, you must be aware that there is a provincial election going on. It is an interesting one—the polls, for whatever they are worth these days, project a fairly close election between the BC Liberals and the BC NDP, which gives our personal decisions a greater weight than usual.

(For context for people outside of British Columbia or newcomers to the province, there are three parties of note here: the BC Liberals, which have been in power since 2001, the BC NDP, and the BC Greens. The “BC” at the start of their names is not there just to be pedantic; these parties are not technically associated with their federal namesakes, and in the case of the BC Liberals, they are in fact quite distinct. Though the mapping between federal and provincial NDP and Greens is fairly easy to make, the BC Liberals are best thought of as Federal Conservatives. They favour capital over workers, resource exploitation over environmental concerns, and lower taxes over higher social safety nets. So the BC Liberals capture the vote of the right-wing and of the confused voter, while the BC NDP and BC Green typically split the vote of the left-wing voter.)

For progressives in the province, the Clark government has been infuriating on education, on private over public interests (selling away our natural resources, seemingly even at a loss), on political lobbying (the New York Times called BC “the Wild West” of political cash), on handling of First Nations issues, and a range of other issues. As with the 2015 Federal Election, the goal for a progressive, again, must be to get rid of the conservative forces in power.

Now, I am a member of the federal Green Party, and as such, in theory, this election should have posed a difficult decision for me: the pragmatic objective, as I just stated, is to vote the BC Liberals out of office, but I want to vote for the platform and party that is closest to me. This would have meant deciding between the strategic option of voting for the BC NDP, to shore up their support against the BC Liberals, or the principled option of voting for the BC Greens, to fight for increased Green representation in BC, even if that meant increasing the BC Liberals’ chances of victory.

However, I found there was no tension between strategy and values in this election. The reason, in short, is that the BC Greens under their current leader, Andrew Weaver, is simply not a party that I want to support.

I have been following Weaver’s trajectory for many years, since before he was elected as the only BC Green MLA in 2013. I’ve followed him on Twitter, I’ve read a book of his, and I’ve heard him speak a few times. My concerns began mildly: I would note that, instead of attempting collaboration with the BC NPD, as Elizabeth May, her federal counterpart, would do in Ottawa, he would shut down every opportunity to do so. He then voted for two disastrous BC Liberal budgets, rejected the Leap Manifesto, repeatedly stated that he saw no problem in ignoring components or the direction of the Green Party platform, as the BC Greens are an entirely different party, and claimed that the BC Greens are the natural home of the Federal Liberals, with whom they share the same values and policy. I saw him being, frankly, extremely boorish to critics on Twitter (his late-night Twitter tirades resemble those of another appalling politician south of the border), constantly punching left rather than right, musing about public support for private schools, and in general demonstrating that, except for a concern for environmental issues, he promotes and is fine with a right or centre-right government, and is therefore all too happy about splitting the left vote if that means the BC NDP won’t get in power.

Consider this alternate scenario: the BC Greens leader realizes they won’t win this election, and does not want four more years of BC Liberal government. They agree to collaborate with a BC NDP government, since their platforms have so much in common in the first place, and extract significant concessions for this support. Both parties in coalition can then pool resources into battleground ridings against the BC Liberals, and be in a much better shape to defeat them. The net result: a progressive government with a strong environmental platform, power-sharing which results in better governing experience for the BC Greens and better prospects in the near future.

It is an idealistic scenario, to be sure, but under Weaver it is absolutely delusional, and the reasons why it is delusional (his aversion to left-wing policies, his bridge-burning confrontational style, and yes, his ego) are the same reasons why I think he is a poor leader and one not worthy of my support.

The BC NDP, for sure, has some problems as well. I find them generally unimaginative, anxious not to veer left too much so as to try and secure the centrist vote. They are ambiguous on fracking and extracting liquefied natural gas, as well as on the Site C project, which in practice almost certainly means they will support both projects, and instead of campaigning for electoral reform they merely claim they will put the question forth in a referendum. But these problems are minute in comparison to those posed by the BC Liberal government. I therefore endorse the BC NDP in spite of them.

Finally, in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding, there really isn’t a strong opposition against the BC NDP in terms of skill or proposals. I encourage you to watch the CFAX debate between the three main local candidates. If you do, or if you meet him elsewhere, you will find that Rob Fleming is experienced and prepared. He knows what the local issues are and how to fight for them. Chris Maxwell (BC Greens) and Stacey Piercey (BC Liberals) both seem like good people, but, to put it mildly, they are woefully unaware of the local situation or how to achieve viable political solutions in comparison. Only the BC NDP put forth a strong candidate in this riding, and I was glad to vote for him in early voting. I encourage you to do the same.