Insight BC

Insight and Discussion Concerning What’s Important in BC

Month: May 2017

The (fleeting) Power of Three

By now, most BC voters have woken up to the news that the Elections BC Final Count has confirmed that there is a minority government for the foreseeable (short term) future.

By the time this blog is widely read, Andrew Weaver will have announced his short term intentions to temporarily prop up one of the two parties who received the vast majority of votes, and public support, from the electorate.

The popular vote indicated a razor thin margin of arguable victory for the reigning Liberals – but the fact that the Liberals are one tantalizingly seat deficient in the legislature alters the political landscape in BC’s future, short term and possibly long term.

Unquestionably, Christy Clark’s Liberals overstayed their welcome.  The Liberals ignored ‘due diligence’ on many fronts, appointing party friends and supporters to key government ‘fat cat’ positions and allowing pay for access supporters to ‘feed at the trough’.  The Site ‘C’ dam and the questionable deals done with friendly interests on high visibility projects such as the replacement for the George Massey tunnel are a couple of obvious illustrations.

Most importantly, the ‘entitlement’ mentality and the obvious disdain for opposing points of view will ultimately cook Christy’s goose – maybe not in time for Christmas 2017, but certainly no later than Christmas 2018.

John Horgan’s NDP, on the flip side, wants the taste of power so badly that it will probably find ways to justify compromising its principles – and the strength of its left wing base, by agreeing to terms and conditions that will ultimately come back to bite the NDP in the derriere.

In the meantime, Andrew Weaver and his two supplicants will hold court regularly – even though they are not the de facto choice of the vast majority of the voter population.

Such is the nature of a minority government – a phenomena not seen in BC for more than half a century.  The nature of minority governments is that they collapse sooner or later, and in BC in 2017, the smart money is on sooner.

Reasons?

Weaver’s Greens have announced three major issues on which they will rest their decision to provide tacit support, to either the Liberals or the NDP.

  1.  Official Party status for the Greens.  Probably a no brainer as it really represents separate offices, a working budget and a very slight relaxation of the minimum 4 MLA current requirement.
  2. Removing the ‘Wild West’ virtually uncontrolled access to big money funding from corporations, unions, lobby groups and ‘party friends’ who have contributed (invested) multi millions of dollars in political contributions to ensure that their respective voice is heard above others and often, contrary to the public interest.
  3. Proportional Representation so that the percentage of the popular vote will translate almost directly into the percentage of the seats each Party will hold in the legislature.

How will this play out?

It seems obvious that either Christy Clark (as long as the Liberals choose to prop up her tenuous hold on Liberal Party leadership) or John Horgan will throw the Official Party status bone to the Greens.

The imposition of restrictions on corporate, union and lobbyist donations is almost a certainty as it is probably among the single biggest reasons that the Liberals did not gain a majority in this 2017 election – and the Liberal Party’s forensic autopsy on the election results will certainly highlight this obvious inference.  Reluctantly (but not too reluctantly since the Liberals have enhanced their party war chest by more than $12 Million last year and at least a further $2 million in 2017) the Liberals will allow a committee to recommend controls on political party contributions. After all, it is likely that the election war chest for the Liberals has the availability of millions of dollars to fight the next election.

The NDP are also benefactors of substantial contributions, mainly from union sources, including the civil service, even resources from large American unions.  While reluctant to lose this ‘largesse’, Horgan and the NDP’s will assent to Weaver’s demands in order to secure power, however short-lived.

The matter of Proportional Representation is an entirely different matter.

Both the Liberals and the NDP enjoyed a tantalizingly close glimpse at majority government under the current system.  Both the Liberals and the NDP recognize that the introduction of Proportional Representation will virtually ensure minority government coalitions as the new reality, given the fractured (and fractious) nature of politics in BC.

Neither the Liberals nor the NDP will actually work co-operatively with Weaver and the Greens to achieve this end, no matter the rhetoric and slow, plodding steps and/or pledges that may appear to lead in that direction.

At the end of the day, both the Liberals and the NDP will make careful, guarded statements and perhaps indicate that they are working toward an assessment of the proportionate representation model and its implementation.  Both, however, will follow the footsteps of the increasingly disingenuous Justin Trudeau who also promised electoral reform – but never delivered.

Both the Liberals and the NDP will see that the prospects of majority government are dangling invitingly just a few short months (12 to 18 months in my estimation) away as the coalition involving the Green Party erodes and ultimately disintegrates, forcing an early general election.

Both the Liberals and the NDP have sufficient resources on hand to fight a quick election and both are obstinate enough and confident enough in their own odds to allow a quick election rather than to pander to Andrew Weaver and the Greens any more than is necessary to convene the next legislature.

So just what is going to transpire?

  1.  The Liberals will replace an unpopular Christy Clark with a new leader who will emerge in time to re-energize the Liberal Party base and attract voters who could not stomach a vote for Clark in the 2017 election.
  2. The problems of uncontrolled political donations will become a ‘non issue’ as both major parties are adequately funded and will grudgingly agree to restrictions that will still benefit the Liberals and the NPD more so than the fringe parties, including the Greens.
  3. Andrew Weaver will play ‘King Maker’ to grandiose applause for a short period of time – and then his bombastic pronouncements will become ‘old’, both in the eyes of the public and in the estimation of the Liberals or the NDP, whichever party Weaver has chosen to ‘favour’ with his conditional support.
  4. Horgan will be allowed to lead the NDP into the next provincial election as he sees that he was ‘so close’ to gaining the majority that the NDP so desperately crave (and need) in order to foist its damaging uneconomic agenda on an unsuspecting public.
  5. Fringe parties, including the BC Conservatives, will ‘wither on the vine’, with insufficient resources (including time and money) to mount an effective campaign in a short election turnaround.
  6. BC voters will return to the polls no later than the spring of 2019, and quite possibly, the fall of 2018.
  7. Proportional Representation will not be a reality for the next election.

Such is the nature of politics in BC.  Short will be the reign of the King or Queen.  Short will be the reign of the King Maker, Andrew Weaver.  Such is the fleeting Power of Three.

 

 

Abuse or Misuse of Voter Trust?

I am one of many conflicted BC residents and potential voters in 2017.

Unless you have been living under a rock (probably where a number of affiliated political party directors have been hiding), you know that there has been a 2017 campaign was at different times: self-congratulatory, entitled, offensive, unacceptably partisan, too broad-based on issues, too focused on single issues, alarmist, conspiracy theoretical and too often, disingenuous and factually misleading.

A surprising spectrum of political interests have declared their intention to represent you, the voter and taxpayer, in the BC legislature.  Most of them have established and known political party affiliations but a significant number are relative unknowns.

I am not certain that this is unique to BC but I do know that 18 registered political parties have forwarded candidates and that 33 independent candidates and 2 candidates described as ‘no affiliation’ have also entered the fray.  This strikes me as a significantly high number of political choices for the average BC voter.

There are 371 declared and eligible candidates distributed among the 20 total different political iterations from which we, as voters, can choose.

If you believe the expensive and over-saturated advertisements that assault you ‘ad nauseam’ on network television, radio and even the social media websites, the choices are simple – you must choose the sitting Liberals who are the ‘only’ political party t0 create jobs and keep BC from economic ruin in the potential hands of the evil and destructive NDP (according to the BC Liberals implied rhetoric).

Or, you must choose the NDP, who are going to claw money back from the ‘entitled and 2% wealthiest in BC’ while forwarding economic promises that seem, at face value, to be questionably affordable and directed primarily to their (very) left of center voter support base.

Thirdly, you must consider the BC Greens, an emerging party that may well hold the balance of power in the BC legislature after all of the smoke clears.  Andrew Weaver, leader of the Greens, is clearly enjoying the limelight and the growing support that genuinely makes the Greens the third party force that could well deny a majority government in the legislature.

The BC Libertarians have run 30 candidates in this election and that is the first indication that there is growing support among voters who are ‘less government’ advocates and tired of the status quo.

In spite of brave (and demonstrably incorrect) statements from the BC Conservatives and the SoCreds that they are still relevant, it is clear that time has passed them by and that they have again missed an incredible opportunity to remain a viable political option.  To confirm how irrelevant the BC Conservative Party has become, take the time to read the May 7th ‘Platform Summary’ on the BCCP’s own website (bcconservative.ca).   The initiatives highlighted are largely inconsequential and in many cases, not even ‘conservative’ in nature.  The SoCreds, for their part, don’t even have a website.

New or relatively new parties such as Your Political Party and the Vancouver Island Party have nominated multiple candidates and have proven that there is an appetite for alternatives that are not entrenched in tired and increasingly unacceptable dogma from the traditional parties.

The candidates from the Christian Heritage Party and the Action Party are splinter parties from the conservative right.

We probably have a good and accurate perception of the intentions of the Communist Party but we collectively know less about the policies, intents and purpose of the remaining parties, including the ReFederation Party, the Cascadia Party, 4BC, BC First, Citizens First, Land Air Water, and New Republic.

Finally we have  33 candidates who are running as independents – clearly declaring their intent to represent the individuals who would elect them, rather than a ‘party machine’.

I’m not sure why 2 candidates are considered No Affiliation rather than Independent – but that is a differentiation that Elections BC can probably explain.

So where does that leave us?

Precisely where the political process normally does leave us.  And exactly where the democratic political process should leave us.

We, each and every one of us, can decide how to exercise our franchise – our constitutionally enshrined right to self-determination through the process of electing representative legislators who should represent us by proxy.

Those elected individuals are oath bound to represent the best interests of their respective constituents – the very people who have elected them.

Those elected individuals will have a ‘fiduciary trust’ to ensure that they are acknowledging that they are ‘trustees’ of your assets and resources, and to enforce your right to the various freedoms you enjoy and the various responsibilities we collectively share.

The 87 individual constituencies will have certain challenges and initiatives that are individually unique and vital to the voters in that respective riding.

The collective 87 constituencies will have other options that affect us all, through the application of taxation alternative espoused by the parties and differing treatment of social issues including health care among others.

Back to my earlier question.  Where does that leave us?

We should acknowledge that 371 individuals have committed to the possibility that they intend to represent you in the BC legislature – and that they have, as individuals, the skill set and the integrity to perform  their fiduciary duties with honor and accountability.

We acknowledge the contribution that these individuals have committed to make.

We must now acknowledge our own commitment to a task that has implications for not just the next few years but for the direction and vitality of BC for future generations and decades to come.

Our responsibility is to ensure that the best qualified and the most accountable individuals are allowed to represent us in the legislature.

We must perform this task either because of, or sometimes in spite of, the promises, the policies and the ‘nasty nature’ of the blood sport of politics.

We must individually assess the quality and the potential of each candidate and weigh their personal attributes against the expectations and the constraints of their political party dogma, if they are party candidates.

We must, and this is a vital concern, assess each and every candidate on the basis of whether the candidate will be truly accountable to the voters who ultimately elect him or her.

History has shown that MLA’s can easily lose sight of the basic democratic principle of committing to represent the voters who elect that MLA, instead bowing to party based political pressures to alternatively represent special interests promoted by their respective political parties.

Bottom line?

Assess and vote on the basis of the personal integrity of the candidate – before you trust in the integrity of the political party they have chosen to represent.

Is the system perfect?  By no means.  But the political system can be improved by ensuring that individuals with a true understanding of their individual responsibilities to the electorate are sworn into office in the BC legislature.

We congratulate all candidates for showing the determination and the courage to potentially  represent we, the electorate, in your respective ridings.

If you are elected after the May 9th polling stations close, make sure you take time during the resulting congratulatory celebrations to reflect on your new responsibilities – and your legal, moral and ethical commitment to accountability to the voters who have placed their trust in you.

Do not abuse or misuse that trust.

 

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