Progressive is a big word in politics.
Everybody seems to know what it means, but it’s so malleable that not all agree on what it’s really about.
In Vancouver, the talk lately in left and centre-left political circles is about keeping the progressive vote intact.
There’s election coming up in October this year, and a political party associated on the right side of the fence is likely going to prevail.
That would be the Non-Partisan Association, of which councillor George Affleck is a member.
For Affleck, all this talk about progressives uniting to fend off the NPA is just “fear mongering”.
“In my mind, the word progressive is not owned by the left side of the political spectrum. That’s bullshit,” Affleck told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Monday (March 12).
For Affleck, progressive is neither left nor right.
“Progressive is based on principles and beliefs, and how you approach things,” he explained.
By that measure, according to Affleck, the NPA is a progressive party.
Affleck cited the NPA’s record on dealing with drug addiction as one example.
The two-term councillor recalled that it was an NPA administration that adopted in 2001 the four pillar approach of harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
Affleck also noted that the NPA has provided leadership on the issue of global warming and climate change.
The NPA was in charge when the city in 1990 released Clouds of Change, a report about how Vancouver can deal with changes that are happening with the environment.
“It became the template for how we build our city in the greenest way possible,” Affleck said.
The Clouds of Change report predated by more than two decades the greenest city plan of the current ruling Vision Vancouver party.
Affleck likewise pointed out that NPA is not a slouch when it comes to cycling.
Bike routes aren’t new in Vancouver, with many kilometres built under previous NPA administrations.
When the Straight reported on March 8 that a meeting will be held among some progressive parties, Affleck tweeted: “Don’t waste your time Vancouver progressives, vote for the new progressive alliance - also known as The NPA.”
When asked about the tweet, Affleck said that it was a “bit of, you know, poke at some people”.
“What is progressive is the question,” he said.