Wow! The results are in—or they almost are. And predictions have it that even after all the mail-in ballots are counted, the provincial NDP will have secured an historic election victory.
They’re leading in, or have won, 55 ridings, and they’ve earned 45 percent of the popular vote—the biggest share of the popular vote in a generation. Plus, for the first time in B.C.’s history, an NDP premier has been elected to two consecutive terms.
This is great news if you’re a progressive, as I am.
It means we’re almost certain to see a continuation of historic provincial spending on nonmarket housing, a stark contrast to the previous Liberal administration. We’re also likely to see a very significant investment in much-needed transit infrastructure, especially in Surrey and Langley.
Fingers crossed the NDP will also continue to raise the provincial minimum wage, which is now at $14.60 an hour, and will increase it even beyond the current goal of $15.20 an hour by next June. (The Liberals had kept it the lowest in Canada, at $10.45 an hour, when the NDP were elected in 2017.)
Fingers crossed, too, that health care will continue to receive the attention it desperately needs with the addition of more health-care workers over and above the thousands already being added for the flu season and the pandemic. Post-COVID-19, we’ll need to increase care for long-term-care residents and more.
I’m also cautiously optimistic that Premier John Horgan will finally say an unequivocal “no” to thwe Site C Dam. It’s totally unfortunate he didn’t put an end to this Liberal boondoggle when he was first elected in 2017.
However, recent revelations that there are huge geotechnical problems with the site—something a group of prominent Canadian leaders, including a former B.C. Hydro president and a former federal fisheries minister, have written a letter to the provincial government about—have now raised the real possibility this project will be scrapped for good.
But I’m not so hopeful—in fact, I’m not hopeful at all—that the NDP government will wean itself off its addiction to LNG revenues. (Hats off to former NDP MP Svend Robinson for continuing to criticize the provincial government on this issue.)
Besides the NDP’s solid victory, I was also so pleased to see the Greens elect 3 MLAs, especially one here in the Lower Mainland for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. Their new leader, Sonia Furstenau, wowed us all during the election debate, so it all nicely solidifies a welcome Green presence in B.C.’s political landscape.
It was a year ago this week that millions of people were marching through streets around the world to get real action on the climate crisis, 100,000 of us in Vancouver alone. We simply can’t let this critical issue slide any more than it has.
While my dream outcome would have been another NDP minority with the Greens holding the balance of power, I’m nevertheless very happy with the outcome.
Going forward, let’s keep an eye on the provincial Liberals, who, let me remind you, are not really “liberals”, either with a small or capital “L”, since the lion’s share of their momentum came from former members of the now-defunct B.C. Social Credit Party, one of the most conservative political parties ever in Canada.
The B.C. Liberals may well splinter into three separate right-wing, so-called free-enterprise parties: those Liberals who are real social conservatives could form a new party; those like long-time provincial Liberal Kevin Falcon and former Surrey mayor and Conservative MP Dianne Watts, who are quite conservative but not as far right as social conservatives, might join the provincial Conservatives, breathing new life into this moribund party; and those in the B.C. Liberal Party who decide to stick it out.
If this came to pass, it would split the right-wing vote as it has not been split since 1972.
That’s when the B.C. NDP secured its first ever victory and the legendary Dave Barrett became our premier. It all happened because the Socreds, provincial Liberals, and provincial Conservatives were all viable parties on the right. They split the vote three ways, and the NDP came up the middle.
In the three short years the NDP held office, they brought in some of the most dramatic, progressive changes B.C. has ever witnessed.
They lowered the drinking age, raised the minimum wage, and brought in a host of innovations that have stood the test of time, including ICBC; Pharmacare; the Agricultural Land Reserve; consumer-protection laws; the air-ambulance service; the end of corporal punishment in schools; and pay toilets.
Imagine what this new NDP majority might do in four years to improve the lives of British Columbians if they follow in the same footsteps!