The recent announcement of two provincial by-elections by the BC Premier has provided an opportunity for all parties to test the chemistry of the political waters little more than a year in advance of the upcoming 2017 provincial election.
Previously, the writer provided the BC Libs with a report card grading the Libs cornerstone commitments to jobs, families and a balanced budget. (You can read that article dated November 29th under the headings Economy and/or Politics).
Let’s take a look at the contenders and the pretenders hoping to upset the Libs and form the next government.
Currently the official opposition with 34 of the available 85 seats, the NDP surprised and disappointed political pundits in 2013 by fumbling away what appeared to be a majority government ‘sure thing’ – according to polls which are proving to be increasingly irrelevant based on recent election results.
NDP considers itself the Social Democratic Party in BC with an articulate and engaging newly elected leader in John Horgan. Horgan’s ability to represent and motivate the political left may provide Christy Clark’s Libs with another genuine challenge in 2017. While Horgan is a vast improvement over the pedantic and ungainly Adrian Dix who inexplicably became the NDP leader in spite of a checkered political past, the question remains whether the SpeNDP policies and predisposition for generating large debt burdens for taxpayers is acceptable to the savvy voter who wants a fiscally responsible government. Horgan, interestingly enough, manages a research and consulting company which sounds suspiciously private sector, meaning that Horgan may actually have more financial savvy and accountability than most NDP candidates.
The NDP will always hold on to its union and socially left of center base but it is no longer clear that it’s Pollyanna all-embracing, ‘the cost is no object’ largess at the public expense will attract the undecided voter who may choose to look first into the wallet and bank account before taking another chance on the NDP.
BC Green Party
Andrew Weaver is the sole MLA representing the BC provincial Greens and is the newly acclaimed leader. A climate change proponent and professor at University of Victoria, Weaver has parlayed his academic background as a mathematician into a self-proclaimed expertise concerning the perils of climate change, based on the suspect mathematical modelling that continues to drive the climate change debate.
Weaver is solid in his home riding of Oak Bay – Gordon Head on the island but it is a real stretch to believe that the Greens can make any significant impact either in the two available by-elections or in the forthcoming 2017 provincial election. Weaver appears generally supportive of the status quo as he has tended to vote in support of many mainstream BC Lib initiatives and budgets. Weaver, of course, resonates with the starry-eyed saviors of Mother Gaia and will continue to shine as a ‘one trick pony’ but hardly has the organizational support to be a major factor in the foreseeable future.
For many disenchanted voters disgusted with the current political environment, a vote for the Greens appears to be an attractive protest vote alternative to merely sitting at home and abstaining from the political process. The BC Green Party received 8.13% of the popular vote in the 2013 election and will probably hold its percentage of popular support from the environmental movement and its media resonant message.
Of course, in the neighbouring province of Alberta, the protest vote probably caused the ruling Conservatives to fall from grace for the first time in over 40 years. Perhaps it is possible to cast too many protest votes.
BC Conservative Party
Sadly, the BCCP brings up the rear because – it truly brings up the rear. If ever there was an enigma in recent BC politics, the BC Conservative Party is it. An indication of how far from grace the BCCP has fallen is epitomized in the almost inexplicable fact that the BCCP doesn’t even get a mention in Wikipedia as a political alternative in BC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia_general_election,_2013
The BCCP appears to have abrogated its normally expected role as the small ‘c’ fiscally conservative and small government, ‘laissez faire’ alternative for right centrist voters in favour of party infighting and an inexplicable lemming-like desire to either collectively jump over a cliff or to make itself invisible, ostrich-like, to both the media and the BC voter.
The most recent leader, Dan Brooks, has resigned after almost two years of utter ineffectiveness. To quote the Georgia Straight, “Dan Who?” I am certain that most media reporters would want to hold a microphone in front of the mouth of a political leader and record more than just heavy breathing.
With little more than a year until the imminent 2017 provincial election, the BC Conservative Party has not taken a public position on any issue of consequence, nor has it fielded candidates in recent or upcoming by-elections or even once has it attempted to force its way back into the media spotlight and the public discussion.
There is clearly a large elephant in the room that no one in the BCCP seems courageous enough to confront. Just what is the BC Conservative Party and what does it represent? How is it possible that the federal Conservatives have chosen to throw their support behind BC Liberals and how is it possible that Christy Clark can raise more than $3 Million in Liberal fundraising in oil rich Calgary over the past 10 years while the BC Conservatives don’t even get a sniff?
Strangely, the very fact that the BC Conservatives have self-imploded presents a great opportunity – if enough dedicated and committed small ‘C’ conservatives are prepared to act. There will always be a place for fiscal conservatism and a ‘private sector friendly’ party in BC politics.
The BC Conservative Party will be holding its AGM in Richmond on February 20th and there is a real opportunity for members and prospective members to rebuild the BCCP from the ground up. The BC Conservatives have a proud heritage and were a formidable force at the very inception of BC itself.
Improbable as it may seems, there appears to be a shrinking window for the BC Conservative Party to divest itself of all of the negativity and deadwood that it has accumulated over the past few years and to renew itself – as a vital, meaningful and relevant alternative to the BC voter.
In order to accomplish that, the BCCP needs new leadership and direction. The current inept and inconsequential BCCP executive members (btw, self-appointed and never ratified by the general membership with only one exception) have to follow the lead of Dan Brooks – and make way for individuals, policies and initiatives that will truly make the BCCP a realistic and supportable alternative on the BC political landscape. The defeat of many qualified and credible federal MP’s and their supporters should provide a fresh supply of talent and innovative energy.
It is time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party.
While there are other political alternatives in BC, we choose to sink no lower than the BCCP.
It appears that the two upcoming lower mainland by-elections will be hotly contested by the Liberals and the NDP, with the Greens making a courtesy appearance. The BCCP does not appear to have the resources to mount even a token challenge. Clearly, the Liberals have chosen the timing of the by-elections to test the current political climate and to give Christy Clark time to reposition the Liberals in the year that remains before the general election.
The NDP under John Horgan will see this as an opportunity to continue the momentum that has been generated as a result of their recent leadership change.
The BC Green Party will use the by-elections as a reminder that it is not too late to save the planet.
The BC Conservative Party will – who knows what the BC Conservative Party will do? They don’t know, themselves – and that is a sad commentary on a pathetic political reality. Or is this the opportunity for a political phoenix to rise up out of the ashes? Only time will tell.