Ex-Socred cabinet minister Rafe Mair declares that he will vote NDP

I received this e-mail today from broadcaster Rafe Mair, who served in the cabinet of Bill Bennett's Social Credit government. I thought it was worth posting on this blog without any editing:

Hi Everybody, Rafe here.
I received an email from a man saying that he has a tough time bringing himself to vote NDP and asked for my comment and here it is. I hope you find it of interest.
Please pass this on to your address book so that we can provide information where the media will not.
Let me take a moment to answer your question which is one that has troubled a lot of people including myself.
When I was in government (1975-80) I was Minister, first, for Consumer and Corporate Affairs. During that time I passed more consumer legislation than anyone before or since including licensing Car dealers (with six of them in caucus setting their collective hair on fire) forced the Banks to acknowledge and obey BC laws for the first time, forced serious reporting changes to the Vancouver Stock Exchanges for which they have never forgiven me, licensed Travel Agents and made them create a fund to bring home passengers stranded by bankrupt charter companies and so on.
As Environment Minister I stopped the government killing of wolves, stopped exploration for and mining of uranium and went to Seattle and negotiated the saving of the Skagit River from a raising of the Ross Dam which Seattle was permitted to do under a 1941 deal with the BC government.
As Minister of Health I brought in the Homecare program and Palliative Care.
I tell you all these things because there is no way in the world I could have ever done these things for the public of BC had Gordon Campbell been Premier.
The political ground has shifted dramatically and the present day version of the old Socreds is, I think, the party Carole James leads. I know that there are supporters of Ms James that are hard line lefties just as when I was with Bill Bennett there were supporters and indeed members of Caucus who were near fascists. That sort of thing will always happen in a two party system.
If it were 1975 all over again, I'd support Bill Bennett (the best premier BC ever had, in my view); in 2009 I will support Carole James.
Now as to the point that Campbell "cleaned up the mess". Perhaps, but let's be fair and observe that the NDP were struck by the "Asian 'flu" and in fact balanced the budget in their last year. It's also interesting to note that under the Liberals the Vancouver Convention Centre is over budget $400 million, more than double the cost of the "fast ferries". For a fuller account of the Liberals financial record may I refer you to my forthcoming article, next Monday, in www.thetyee.ca.
Now let's look at 2009. This election, for me, boils down to a single issue - the environment and the plans by Campbell to deface and destroy the province I was born in and love and where 7 out of 8 of my grandchildren live. The energy policy, in which no one but industry had a hand in formulating, will ruin an ever increasing number of rivers, not to look after BC's energy needs, but mostly, American requirements, I have nothing against Americans and in fact have often been accused of being to lenient with them, but I don't want to see us sacrifice our environment rivers so they can preserve theirs. This policy is government by the North America Free Trade Agreement and our experts tell us three things-
1. once an American company has access to our water for any reason, it can use it for any reason Including selling bulk water exports.
2. Once an American company has tenure on a Canadian water and is using it, that tenure cannot be terminated either by contract or legislation.
3. Once we are exporting energy, we cannot reduce that supply to the US without reducing our own usage by a similar amount (this is the "Proportionality Clause").
Moreover, the profits which BC Hydro now pays into our treasury will go as dividends to shareholders of Companies like General Electric, Ledcor and Axos. BC Hydro, forced by this government to pay huge amounts for energy that they can't even break even with when they sell it, will bankrupt BC Hydro for which we paid a high environmental price 45 years ago but which has since then given us regular power at 1/10th the cost they pay in California. Dr Marvin Shaffer at SFU calls this new business technique "buy high, sell low"!
If Campbell is returned we will be, like Bre'r Rabbit, stuck to the American Tar Baby.
There is but one other choice, vote NDP.
But will this not mean the financial ruination of the province?
I don't believe so for a moment. But let us assume for the sake of argument an NDP government made a balls up of the economy. That can be repaired by a new government. However, once we have established the Campbell Energy Plan for another four years that will be the end of BC Hydro and the end of hundreds of rivers. FOREVER.
I cannot allow that to happen without giving it the fight of my life.
I, a former Socred minister, with the same core values I had then, am supporting and will vote for Carole James.
Please take the time to look at www.saveourrivers.ca and get the bigger picture



Antony Hodgson

Feb 26, 2009 at 9:20am

Rafe is also a strong supporter of BC-STV, the electoral reform recommended nearly unanimously by the Citizens' Assembly. With STV, parties would not be able to have as dominant a majority as the Liberals won in 2001, where they took all but two of the seats and operated without an official opposition. Democracy in the Westminster parliamentary tradition is best served with a strong opposition subjecting the government to scrutiny. When parties win many more seats than their popular support would warrant, they tend to make hasty decisions aimed primarily at satisfying their own supporters, rather than taking the time to address the concerns of society as a whole. By supporting BC-STV in the coming referendum, you can help ensure that significant legislative changes more frequently represent a true societal consensus.

Antony Hodgson
Director, Fair Voting BC
Supporting the recommendation of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform
Check stv.ca for information on the May 12th referendum