I have, for over forty years been an active member of the BC NDP. At election time I contributed what money my wife and I could possibly afford. I was always enthusiastic about door to door canvassing, putting up signs—doing what I could to elect NDP candidates who I felt would stand up for the social justice and environmental values I hold dearly.
It seems to me that the current NDP provincial government, under the leadership John Horgan and Carole James, has done a reasonably good job of moving toward a more just and caring society with the need to foster the long term well being of our economy. I would give our current government very high marks for cleaning up the, BC Liberal created, swamp of big money dominance over our electoral process and all the corruption that went with it.
Indeed if it were not for climate change and the unfulfilled promises on reconciliation with the First Nations of our province, I would have been, perhaps, even more enthusiastic about supporting the NDP in our next provincial election.
BUT…I have three beautiful grandchildren, and you could not plumb the depth of feeling that I have about leaving a healthy, living/livable world for them to grow up in. On the environment, especially climate change, the NDP gets grossly failing marks. And tied to its failings on climate change, the Horgan government has made an absolute hypocrisy of its commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Rather than leadership on climate change and Indigenous rights Horgan and James have made it clear that whenever big money speaks they will prostrate themselves in eager servitude.
Now the Horgan government did make a pretence of opposing the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion that would triple the current pipeline’s capacity to carry tar sands oil to lower mainland ports. The BC NDP government petitioned the courts to determine if BC has jurisdiction to limit substances harmful to the environment from entering the province. But, let’s be honest here, they didn’t put much into the effort that they had to know in advance they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of turning back the pipeline expansion through the courts. I don’t think the Supreme Court of Canada gave the petition even a serious reading before it was perfunctorily rejected.
During the 2017 election, John Horgan stood with opponents of the being-constructed Site C dam, labeling it a multibillion-dollar boondoggle. After the election he changed his tune. Site C, it seems, is crucial to supplying the power to condense fracked natural gas to Liquefied Natural Gas for shipment abroad—a project that has become the hallmark of the Horgan government despite condemning a proposed LNG project during the election because of its greenhouse gas emissions.
It seems Horgan’s NDP government has undergone a Saul on the road to Damascus conversion on LNG granting more than generous tax subsidies to construct gas pipelines and build a dubious plant to liquefy the fracked gas in Kitimat while tearing up its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations in order to get the gas there by the shortest, quickest, most objectionable pipeline route regardless of First Nations objections. It seems that Horgan isn’t a tidbit interested in the impact of this taxpayer subsidized project on gutting the once touted goal of cutting GHGs by 40% by 2030. The project will generate, in Phase One, 3.4 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually!
It would, indeed, be hard put to find an instance of Horgan’s government actually doing something meaningful about climate change and never if it means shifting the economy away from GHG augmenting industries like the five mountaintop removal coalmines in the Elk Valley.
On the environment side, the Horgan government actions do not diverge substantially from that of the BC Liberals.
The life of our BC forests certainly does not face a brighter future for the election of the NDP. This year more than 1,300 hectares of old growth on Vancouver Island go on the block.
Despite its advances on social justice and election financing, when it comes to the environment and Aboriginal rights the NDP under Horgan continues with the economy is all, environment can be considered only if it doesn’t get in the way of development mentality of his NDP predecessors who were a little more forth coming about their views on protecting our environment–like Premier Glen Clark who called Greenpeace members “enemies of British Columbia and “eco-terrorists” for their efforts to protect the “Great Bear Rainforest”or Carole James who, as party leader, wanted to ‘ax the carbon tax” or Mike Harcourt who was the first BC premier to charge civil demonstrators blocking a contested logging road with criminal offences—an action not even Social Credit governments had considered.
I am reluctant to admit this even to myself, but the hard truth seems to overwhelming argue that the NDP just cannot understand that the very basis of our lives on this planet is dependent, not on an ever expanding economy but on a healthy functioning planetary ecosystem and a life sustaining atmosphere. A just and equitable society is very important to me, but a just and equitable society will not last long if we don’t start paying much closer attention to a healthy functioning planetary ecosystem and a life sustaining atmosphere.
Unless there is a substantial turnaround in the Horgan government’s commitment to acting on the environmental well being of our province and acting to implement their words about meaningful reconciliation with First Nations, I will not be voting NDP in the next election. I will not be supporting them with my money nor my volunteer efforts and I will encourage my friends and associates to do the same. The wellbeing of the planet that we leaving to our children and grandchildren is that important to me.
Who will I, then, support? The BC Green Party seems an obvious answer but they have been supporting the BCNDP through this whole term in office. I have serious reservations about a BC Green Party government and I am not willing to abandon the many social justice advances that the NDP has brought in to a party that often seems to hold much more conservative social values than I can support. So who/what party can be both socially progressive and committed to a healthy environment? I do not ask this rhetorically. I am most interested in your thoughts. One might say “vote for an independent candidate” but independents are both ineffectual and unpredictable. So do we need a Green Democratic Party—and further split the opposition to the big business interest only Liberal Party that doesn’t care for social justice nor our environment unless it is to the benefit of some highly profitable, wealthy corporate interest?
Is this the conundrum on which democracy founders?