White Paper on the BC Political Climate
BC is currently represented essentially by two political parties, resulting in a virtual majority government each and every election. The interests of the political ‘left’ are led by the NDP and the goals of the political ‘right’ are forwarded currently by the BC Liberal Party. While there are other players, they would all have to be defined as marginal (fringe) and largely irrelevant in the eyes of the BC electorate.
The parties representing the political ‘right’ or small ‘C’ conservative values, have changed quite extensively throughout the course of time. The original BC Conservative Party held a prominent position from the early 1900’s to the mid 1930’s, then fell from grace. The 1940’s was primarily a coalition period in which Conservatives and Liberals agreed to an uneasy coalition in order to prevent the CCF (forerunner of the NDP) from forming government.
The Social Credit Party became preeminent in the early 1950’s and continued virtually uncontested until 1991 as the representative of the political ‘right’.
After a decade of NDP successes in the 1990’s, the disintegration of the Social Credit Party through a variety of missteps coupled with the normal voters’ ‘desire for change’, caused the Social Credit Party to lose its status of the political ‘right’ and no candidates have been successful since the 1991 election. The BC voter chose the fledgling and rebuilding BC Liberal Party to command the ‘centrist’ and ‘right’ spectrum vote in 1991 and in subsequent elections, despite the efforts of a number of fringe ‘right wing’ parties to break the political stranglehold. Currently, the BC Conservative Party is the most discussed and media aware alternative but it suffers from a number of internal issues and recent missteps which have caused fewer than 1 in 40 actual BC Conservatives to actually belong to, or support, the BCCP. The newly re-elected leader has pledged to fight the 2017 election by utilizing BC taxpayer dollars to unwisely (in our opinion) fund new Crown Corporation initiatives which will (again in our opinion) resonate extremely unfavourably with BC voters in 2017.
The bulk of BC ‘right’ or ‘right centrist’ voters and political supporters have looked for a variety of alternatives to dislodge the BC Liberals from their perch and perception as the representative of the ‘political right’. Splinter groups from the BC Conservative Party such as the BC Action Party have essentially been unable to gain any traction or political credibility and recent discussions with the ‘caretaker’ of the Social Credit Party clearly indicate that the Socreds are hopelessly mired in the past with no chance of reviving – at least in time for the 2017 election. The BC Conservative Party has further splintered as a result of the very recent leadership convention in Prince George and less than 13% of the current membership of that party voted to reinstate Dan Brooks. More alarmingly (for them) and opportunistic (for other fiscal conservatives) is the fact that only 472 actual ballots were counted as valid in the leadership election. (To clarify, there are approximately 2,000 BCCP members registered. Dan Brooks received 52% of the 472 votes cast and counted. That is approximately 245 votes from a population of 2,000 eligible voters. Actual percentage voting for Dan Brooks? 12.27%)
There must be a large, and growing, number of small ‘C’ conservative, right wing voters who are looking for a legitimate, and valid, home for their vote and for a chance to have their voice and representation in the BC legislature.
What Will Resonate?
What does the BC Voter really want in 2017?
1. Candidates who will first be accountable to the constituency that elected that candidate. Before party lines, caucus solidarity, political maneuvering and the ‘bought and paid for’ influence of special interest groups and significant party contributors.
2. Transparency. A government that is not afraid to bring issues – and challenges, to the forefront so that the voting public again feels that it is involved and engaged in the political process. Politicians that are not afraid to admit that mistakes have been made – by both the politicians themselves as well as the bureaucracy that actually administers and oversees legislation and the current definition of the ‘public good’ and the ‘public interest’.
3. Fiduciary Trust. A government (and political party) that actually ascribes to the ‘trust’ nature of their elected role. A government that recognizes that it is the ‘steward’ of the collective wealth and asset base of the BC resident and voter – and not it’s owner in its own right to use (or abuse) as it pleases.
4. Accountability. A government (and political party) that continuously and steadfastly recognizes that it has not been given a mandate to do whatever it chooses during the currency of its elected mandate – but instead a government (and political party) that recognizes and accepts that each decision it renders must be able to stand the test of close scrutiny, criticism and debate. Hiding behind political expediency and related ‘bafflegab’ is not an acceptable practice as it only further alienates and creates more mistrust in the political process – and its participants.
5. Accessibility. Better ways and means of interacting in the political process without the reliance of creation of more ‘special interest’ groups and single purpose entities. Most importantly, better accessibility to the actual elected representatives of the constituents so that the various alternatives and options available are made more public and inclusive. While this would have been impractical and prohibitively expensive in the not too distant past, the ability to interact one on one or collaboratively is available to almost every BC resident, through the use of broadband internet.
6. Integrity. The voting public is justifiably suspicious and apathetic due to continuing instances of political improprieties and government scandals. The emergence of a political party that inspires a greater confidence in the ‘system’ and the enforcement of rights and remedies by the voters will immediately attract a wide number of potential members and voters in the forthcoming 2017 election.
7. Credible and Ethical Candidates. No party, new or existing, can garner any amount of public support resulting in election of candidates, without a careful screening of candidates to ensure that the individuals selected are fully committed to principles and values that the voter and the resident of BC can trust, ongoing.
8. Recognition of political, social and economic realities. Instead of being swayed by often meaningless and incorrect opinion polls (blowing in the wind, as a result), a political party must have a clear sense of direction and purpose, yet be fully flexible and reactive when presented with challenges and new issues. Individuals with real skills, talents and expertise must be brought on board and entrusted with the responsibilities of protecting the public interest and the interest of future generations. Policies must be carefully assessed and brought forward with the comprehension of ‘fiduciary trust’ and the responsibility of the elected representative to the individuals who have entrusted him or her with decisions that are not self-serving or ‘self-preserving’ in the face of challenges and opportunities.
9. Fiscal Responsibility. There must be an absolute, and irrefutable, recognition that virtually all social and political stability is predicted on a widely based economic stability and an expectation that the future is viable and achievable for succeeding generations of BC residents and voters. Proper economic stewardship of BC’s resources and opportunities is a key factor in furthering BC’s prospects, both internally and abroad.
The Climate for the Creation of a New Political Entity?
Could not be better, in some respects. There are a large, and growing, number of BC fiscally conservative voters that have realized that the BC Liberal Party can be bought by the highest bidder and that the political options are currently prohibitively limited. The NDP is not an option for individuals who believe in free enterprise and ‘laissez faire’ economics and a new home for these individuals would be welcomed.
What is Required (Short Term)?
Establishment of a new ‘right centrist’ political party (or movement) with values and stated principles that the BC voter will embrace. A flag must be planted that people will rally to. The core leadership must espouse those values on an unwavering basis and be sufficiently articulate and committed to ensuring that the core values are not compromised in any meaningful way. The leadership must also be prepared to show a commitment and resolve to furthering those goals and initiatives with measured and well-thought proactive, and sometimes reactive, discussion and debate.
Wide distribution (and media awareness) is critical to success as is the identification and solicitation of others in ridings where the opportunities to achieve immediate success is optimized. Such ridings would typically be federally conservative based on voting patterns and would currently have a growing number of disenchanted provincial Liberals and BCCP members.
Time is of the Essence