Marc Emery blogs from prison about the B.C. election, the NDP loss, and the B.C. Greens' future
The Toronto Maple Leafs' historic record as biggest losers in a single game lasted all of one day until the B.C. New Democratic Party took the title away from them in an even more breathtaking fashion.
In a situation that must have deposed NDP leader Carole James smirking today. She, according to the rebels like Jenny Kwan, couldn't win an election in B.C. (despite taking the NDP from two seats in 2001 to 35 seats in 2009. James won her seat while the NDP collapsed spectacularly in unprecedented way.
The NDP was 20 points ahead of the B.C. Liberals only six weeks ago. Twenty points! And yet, after election night, the NDP was five percentage points and 17 seats behind, a collapse of 25 percent of the electorate. The B.C. Liberals had 45 seats to the NDP's 36 seats before the May 14 vote. Now it's 50 B.C. Liberals.
Of course, this is really the Socred alliance—as the Conservative vote collapsed and fell in line behind the B.C. Liberals. Their candidates, by and large, are even more conservative (in the bad way) than the new B.C. Conservative party.
NDP leader Adrian Dix has to be the most uninspiring, charisma-lacking, vacant "leader" ever, and offered up nothing to the voters of B.C. that could inspire confidence. No policies, no platform, no campaign. "Just let the Liberals implode" was the whole NDP campaign. Astonishing arrogance, such hubris!
The B.C. Greens will have a new leader and their first MLA in climate scientist Andrew Weaver, elected in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, a constituency that overlaps federal Green party leader Elizabeth May's Saanich-Gulf Islands riding. This is great news for the B.C. Greens, who have been declining in popularity since the 2001 election campaign when they received more than 12 percent of the B.C. vote.
It dropped to nine percent in 2005, then eight percent in 2009, and remained at eight percent in 2013 under Jane Sterk's unfortunately inadequate (and largely invisible) leadership.
The B.C. Greens could have had a higher percentage but for an unexplainable decision not to run candidates in every B.C. riding. Huge gaps across the province, in areas like the two ridings in my wife's hometown Kamloops, did not have a Green candidate, which left a lot of people disappointed.
Had the Greens run in all 85 ridings, I believe the total would have exceeded 10 percent of the total provincial vote. Hopefully in the next election, four years from now, the B.C. Greens will have a candidate in every riding.
I am particularly proud of my wife Jodie and her campaign in Vancouver–West End as the B.C. Green candidate. Despite so much going on in her regular life, Jodie campaigned every day for the final 15 days before the election with a shoestring budget of her own money, and received 1,897 votes for 11.1 percent of the riding total. (Absentee ballots will be counted in the next two weeks and then added to all candidates' vote totals across B.C.)
That was an increase over the previous nine percent result for the constituency, and a doubling of her own personal total of 904 votes in the 2009 B.C. election campaign as the Green candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.
The B.C. Green party under Sterk's "leadership" failed to marshal any resources for anything resembling a worthy campaign provincewide, and left all of the candidates outside of four in southern Vancouver Island to fend for themselves. Sterk will resign in the days ahead, an inevitability after going nowhere with the party in five frustratingly ineffective years in charge of the B.C. Green franchise, and Weaver will be de facto B.C. Green party leader.
He'll have the prestige of being a veritable Nobel prize-winning climate change scientist and now MLA for the next four years, and in that time I hope he'll inspire the next wave of B.C. Green candidates for the May 2017 election. (In fairness to Sterk, the first Green MLA in B.C. has been elected under her party leadership, but there isn't any other accomplishment to note.)
The B.C. Greens are far more progressive on almost every issue than the NDP, which is still the proxy for labour unions. As for the B.C. Liberals, leader Christy Clark proved that chutzpah can win elections. She lost her own seat to former B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawyer and NDP candidate David Eby. So some poor sap of a B.C. Liberal MLA will have to give up his or her safe seat so Clark can parachute into it and get elected to the legislature. Some lucrative government appointment awaits some lucky B.C. Liberal MLA!
Clark won by standing up for something while the NDP seemed to stand for nothing. The B.C. Liberals hammered the NDP for its apparent policy-less drift, and the accusation resonated with voters. Clark has done the Boston Bruins one better: a political come-from-behind that I doubt is equalled in any province over the last 30 years. It's a shame that her government is filled with regressive troglodytes like Mary Polok, Rich Coleman, RCMP-kissy-face Daryl Plecas, and numerous others.
But the B.C. Liberals also now have former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who (if he resists being whipped into line by Clark) actually believes in legalization and ending prohibition. And the drug-policy reform movement has another hope in newly elected NDP MLA David Eby, but both of these two parties are so controlled by largely inept and corrupt leadership that I doubt we'll ever hear Sullivan or Eby seriously ever criticize the police or prohibition ever again, and certainly not while in the legislature.
As former B.C. Liberal MLA Kash Heed showed, and current NDP MLA Nicholas Simons reminded us, the legislature is where antiprohibitionists go to "shut up and never be heard from again" in any meaningful and relevant way.
Thankfully, this was the last election in the USA or Canada that I'll ever be absent from participating in as a result of my current exile. I'm excited to be Jodie's campaign manager if she seeks to run in Canada's 2015 federal election as the Green Party candidate for Vancouver Centre, which includes all of the provincial boundaries of Vancouver–West End, where she ran this time.
We'll raise serious money to do an effective election campaign with mailouts, phone banking, advertising, more buttons and signs, and an organized volunteer campaign. Jodie and I have worked together for our entire relationship as a "campaigning couple", and she did her best in this election while I've been imprisoned so far away. But I know we're both eager for my return home so we can campaign as a team again.
Marc Emery is a Vancouver marijuana-policy reform advocate, publisher, and former politician. He's serving a five-year prison sentence in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds.