Christy Clark has many reasons to fear Green party Leader Andrew Weaver
Much of the media commentary during the B.C. election campaign has been about how the B.C. Green party could siphon votes away from the B.C. NDP and help keep the B.C. Liberals in power.
But yesterday, B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark's pointed criticism of the Greens indicates that she also worries about their impact.
It's because the Greens appeal to some high-income voters and, at times, have attracted more votes in areas where NDP support is traditionally quite low.
For example, the national Green leader, Elizabeth May, was elected in Saanich–Gulf Islands, which was previously held by a Conservative cabinet minister.
Provincial constituencies in parts of her riding went to the NDP's Lana Popham and Gary Holman in the last B.C. election because the Greens took so many votes from the B.C. Liberals.
The provincial Green leader, Andrew Weaver, won in 2013 in the wealthy constituency of Oak Bay-Gordon Head, which was held by a B.C. Liberal cabinet minister.
And the strong showing of the Greens in the last Vancouver municipal election increased voter turnout and helped Vision Vancouver retain the mayor's chair and control over council.
So it's not just the left that has to worry about the Greens.
Right-wing parties like the B.C. Liberals and the Vancouver NPA should fear them, too.
Clark is particularly vulnerable to the Greens because her B.C. Liberal government has been such an extreme climate laggard.
Whereas her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, introduced a carbon tax to bring climate voters onside, Clark has promoted a new 10-lane bridge across the Fraser River. She's also trumpeted greenhouse-gas-spewing LNG projects that would prevent B.C. from achieving its legislated emissions targets, and endorsed the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Listening to Clark complain about any increase in the carbon tax is reminiscent of the B.C. NDP's axe the tax campaign in the 2009 election. It's tone deaf to the biggest issue of our times.
Clark's party's insistence on holding a referendum on rapid-transit projects plays well to the car dealers, but it strikes climate-conscious voters as colossally stupid and unfair, given that they don't get to vote on the 10-lane bridge.
Keep in mind that there are many free-enterprise-oriented climate-conscious voters who can't bring themselves to vote NDP.
These people can do the math. They, unlike the premier and many of her B.C. Liberal colleagues, know that when carbon dioxide emissions exceeded 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, we were collectively on the road to ruin as a species.
And there has been no one in the B.C. Liberal caucus who's been willing to champion their concerns. Not Peter Fassbender. Not Rich Coleman. And certainly not Andrew Wilkinson, who should know better, given that he's a Rhodes scholar.
The B.C. Liberals are like the old Socreds who were tone-deaf to public concerns about clear-cut logging in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And the Socreds were slaughtered in the 1991 election.
This premier simply doesn't get it when it comes to climate change. And for free-enterprise-oriented climate voters, the best way to send her a message is to cast a ballot for the Greens, whose leader strikes many of them as an eminently reasonable man who won't sacrifice his principles to the altar of organized labour.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was in a similar situation in the 2015 election. He too was a climate laggard who just didn't get it. That was obvious to educated voters who could do the math and figure out that the future of humanity was on the line.
Those who couldn't stomach the NDP in 2015 went with Trudeau's Liberals. And Harper was trounced.
Mainstream media outlets don't pay a great deal of attention to climate change during election campaigns. It's because many of them don't get it, either.
But climate change is always bubbling beneath the surface and sometimes bursts forward at the most inopportune times for politicians who don't take it seriously.
In 2012, Republican presidential candidate and climate-change denier Mitt Romney was walloped by Superstorm Sandy on the eve of the U.S. election.
Here in B.C., hundreds of people have been forced out of their homes in southern B.C. as a result of flooding caused by heavy rains and a rapid snowmelt.
It doesn't take a PhD in math for voters to make the link between extreme weather events and climate change.
Some of those flood victims are in the Kelowna area, where Clark is an MLA.
I expect as the final day of campaigning progresses that we'll hear more criticism of the B.C. Greens from Clark.
That's because those who vote Green are not only former NDP supporters, like David Suzuki, but also high-tech executives and green-business entrepreneurs who wouldn't dream of casting a ballot for a party so closely allied to the labour movement.
Climate voters come from across the political spectrum. When the polls close on Tuesday (May 9) night, we'll find out how big a force they've become in provincial politics.