Image: Las Vegas Venetian Lobby

December 23, 2017

2017 in BC: Two Steps Forward, Two and More Steps Backwards

December 23, 2017

The big job got done this year, at least: Christy Clark and her evil regime were finally evicted from power — and if nothing else, that is enough to declare 2017 a success.  Unfortunately, as the year progressed, it became clear that John Horgan’s NDP still had plenty of its own powerful regressive demons to deal with on top of the mess the Liberals left them.

There have been some small improvements under the new government — rental loopholes closed, for example, grizzly bear hunting ended. But no movement on disability bus passes, rent freezes and limits, or MSP, and we are supposed to wait until next year for any serious changes in housing, which most people in the Lower Mainland might consider the number one priority, and perhaps even longer for electoral change to some form of proportional representation.

And what has been done often seems flawed.

Legislation to amend election financing (“getting big money out of the system”) was a decent start, but didn’t touch spending limits, deal adequately with limits on third-party expenditures, or make donations — including and especially donations in non-election years — fully transparent in real-time.

And then there’s Site C. Corrupted politicians might well say that nothing was actually promised in the election campaign. Decent progressive politicians would admit that, yes, we implied as strongly as we could that the decision to cancel was going to be policy. Financial and utility experts from all over the map have made it clear that the reasons given by Horgan for moving ahead are horribly flawed; party members from all over the Province have made it clear their support for the Party has been seriously dented.

There are questions about the NDP’s understanding of the underlying finances, especially as regards the so-called “sunk costs.” There are many questions about how the NDP decided to prioritize a few traditional Union jobs against the vicious destruction of the Peace Valley. And there are serious questions raised about the NDP’s loudly proclaimed relationship with the First Nations after this insult — “I’m not the first colonialist to lie to you”, I paraphrase Horgan.  This decision goes against the Treaties, it goes against reconciliation, and it goes against UNDIP.

This albatross will hang around the NDP’s neck for a long long time unless they come to their senses and reverse their decision as soon as possible. Liberals are never going to back the NDP anyway, so the government needs to do what needs to be done to recover their own supporters.

The threat is that these now dissatisfied former supporters will turn to the Green Party at the next election. But the Greens have issues too. Site C should have been enough to drive them away from their agreement with the NDP but, apparently, massive damage to BC’s environment, native peoples, and finances doesn’t compare with the glorious benefits the Party sees itself gaining from prop rep down the road some time.  There are no innocent political parties.

In 2018, I’ll be watching how the Provincial NDP works its housing policy to ensure another Vision Vancouver victory at the municipal level. With all the Visionistas holding significant levels of power now in Victoria, you can bet this will be a two-handed campaign; and they’ll probably find some way to include their buddies at the Federal level too.  That doesn’t auger well for Vancouver, I fear, with supply-side thinking still dominant no matter how exhaustively debunked by progressive urban academics.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.