The B.C. NDP has become more hidebound than the Liberal Party of Canada. The New Democrats under James have dumbed down our political culture, and progressive voters must send the party a message that enough is enough.
A third aim should be to drive down the NDP’s share of the popular vote so if it loses the election, the party will quickly dump James and diminish the influence of her two right-wing suburban lieutenants, finance critic Bruce Ralston and solicitor-general critic Mike Farnworth. Harming the NDP’s share of the vote should only occur in constituencies in which the NDP has no chance of defeating the B.C. Liberal.
There’s a way to accomplish all three objectives by voting intelligently and strategically. We’re going to show you how.
We feel that the Green party under Jane Sterk has the best overall set of policies. Whether it’s transportation, agriculture, climate change, policing, or crime and justice, the Greens are far more progressive than either the B.C. Liberals or the NDP.
The Greens are the only ones talking about replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force when the Mounties’ contract expires in 2012.
The Greens are the only ones calling for the end of prohibition and allowing marijuana to be grown and sold in cooperatives. The Greens are the only ones willing to examine the B.C. government’s disgraceful handling of the Chinese head tax in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
There are plenty of differences between Campbell’s platform and that of the NDP. The NDP will slow the development of farmland by bringing back a provincial Agricultural Land Commission. An NDP government would also stop the fire sale of public resources, halt funding cuts to the arts in 2010 and 2011, phase out open-net fish farms that threaten wild salmon, raise the minimum wage, close an antitenant loophole in the Residential Tenancy Act, and hold a public inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail.
The NDP’s policies are actually quite good once you move away from the two biggest issues on the public agenda: crime and transportation. In these two areas, however, the NDP mirrors the irresponsible right-wing policies of the B.C. Liberals under Campbell. Both parties have been tyrannized by stupid right-wing media into adopting policies that will divert precious public resources away from more positive goals, like improving the education system, enhancing the arts, stamping out poverty, and improving the province’s dreadful child-care system.
Both leading parties favour more prisons, more cops, more prosecutors, an inefficient and costly transit system, and a prohibitively expensive new Fraser River crossing. It is financial recklessness of the highest order.
In addition, the two major parties haven’t overwhelmed us with their environmental policies. The Liberals will keep a carbon tax, which will eventually rise to 7.24 cents per litre of gasoline by 2012; the NDP will scrap the carbon tax and introduce a cap-and-trade system, which will impose a hard cap on emissions. Both support expanding road capacity and building a new Port Mann Bridge.
The Greens will cancel Gateway projects, including the bridge, raise the carbon tax to $50 per tonne, and apply it to short-haul air travel—and exempt those who are living in poverty. In addition, the Green party will implement a cap-and-trade system, phase out subsidies to the oil-and-gas industry, boost tax incentives to buy electric cars, and develop climate-change adaptation strategies. This puts the Greens far in front of others on the biggest issue of our time: climate change.
We feel that Campbell can’t be trusted as premier for another four years. If he has another term, he might introduce more private financing (i.e., more private insurance) to the health-care system, which would undermine the efficiency embedded in a single-payer system. He says he won’t do this, but he also said he wouldn’t sell B.C. Rail and he would create the most open and accountable government in Canada.
At the same time, we question whether or not James and her NDP colleagues have the intellectual depth to govern effectively in trying economic times. The leader doesn’t seem aware of the risks presented by peak oil. Our preference is for an NDP minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power.
The Greens have some exceptional young candidates. They shouldn’t be overlooked in constituencies where the NDP has no chance.
The NDP has traditionally blazed a trail with innovative and imaginative policies. But that turf has been ceded to the Greens in recent years as the NDP has become an increasingly conservative party that strives for acceptance in Canwest newspapers. One exception is the NDP’s idea for an environmentally oriented bond program to stimulate investment in green initiatives.
One of the best reasons for voting NDP is its promise to introduce campaign-finance reform. Unlike in the federal system, there are no limits on political contributions in B.C. from corporations and unions. This enables the B.C. Liberals to collect millions from businesses, which are the beneficiaries of legislative changes.
In recent years, the NDP has been less reliant on organized labour. If James wins, she promises to ban contributions from unions and businesses. This has the potential to transform the political system.
This plank alone offers sufficient grounds for an undecided voter to cast a ballot for the NDP.
Every election, the Georgia Straight makes its recommendations. These are not “endorsements”, and they should merely be seen as preferences. We’re not so arrogant as to think that we have all the answers. If you disagree, feel free to explain why in the comments section below.
These recommendations were made with the following three objectives: ridding the province of Campbell; stopping the rightward drift of the NDP; and paving the way for the replacement of James should the NDP lose by driving down the party’s percentage of the popular vote. We listed the best choice to help meet those three objectives, and not necessarily the best candidate in each constituency.