Housing Policy — Same Horse, Different Jockey?

June 29, 2017

I am spending the afternoon watching the last gasps of the BC Liberals as the debate on their Throne Speech comes to a conclusion. The assumption is that, some time today, the question will be called and Clark’s government will fail to win the confidence of the House and be forced to resign.  The next step — as is our colonial wont — is up to the Lt. Governor, the Queen’s representative. She can ask the NDP’s John Horgan to form a government with his Green allies, or she can call another election.

As a Liberal Party donor and friend to the Premier, the Lt. Governor, I suspect, will do what Clark wants (but dare not say out loud) and dissolve the House, leaving Clark and her ministers to continue governing while we waste tens of millions of dollars on another exercise in faux democracy. Clark will then run her campaign on the Throne Speech policies which she stole wholesale from the NDP and could well win. I hope I am wrong because another term under the Liberals is hard to contemplate.

That being said, an article in the Mainlander today reminds us that both the Liberals and the NDP are neo-liberal capitalist parties and, on the key question of housing, are not very different:

“The [NDP] platform carries key planks over from previous campaigns, and like the BC Liberals, the 2017 NDP program refuses to tax the rich. Without a genuine source of tax funding and without a plan to intervene into the free market, the NDP-Greens are poised to offer BC a kind of Vision Vancouver 2.0. This means zero social housing targets and no meaningful commitment to rent control. Instead, limited tax dollars will be used to subsidize landlords, homeownership grants, and private developers … By merging market and non-market housing into a single vague policy, and by relying mainly on a strategy of “supply stimulus” and tax breaks (“incentives”) for the private development industry, the NDP has in effect adopted the same policy model as Vision Vancouver.”

It is frankly terrifying to hear Horgan claim that:

“Gregor [Robertson] is speaking up for renters” … So far, Vision’s program has transferred millions of dollars to developers (well over half a billion) without achieving any minimal level of affordability.”

The NDP supports Vision’s Rental100 program even though

“Increased supply has not created affordability, and for a simple reason: developers have used tax cuts to inflate their profits, not to bring down their unregulated housing prices. What we need in BC is not deeper tax cuts for a booming market, but instead new affordable supply and actual rent control.”

The Mainlander article concludes that:

“The NDP’s housing platform is guided by their commitment to property owners’ interests. This is reflected in its refusal to support a progressive taxation system for municipalities. Currently the province enforces a flat tax system for cities, but as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has pointed out, a progressive tax on high-value properties could raise up to $1.7 billion per year in Metro Vancouver alone … As monthly evictions become the norm and thousands of properties continue to sit empty, a change of government feels more like a regime change from one party of capital to another … the NDP-Green alliance means that the “rules of the game” remain the same, with power kept in the hands of those who already have it.”

This is a valuable corrective to the rah-rah rhetoric we have heard from BC’s “left” since the election. I still want to see the BC Liberals defeated — because they are corrupt and saturated by resource fantasies; but the Mainland article reminds us that paradise is not just around the corner even if John Horgan becomes Premier this week.

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Speaking In Tongues

June 23, 2017

In 1969, I had the delightful experience of working on “Kelly’s Heroes“, a fun movie. We shot it in what was then Yugoslavia and, unlike many location shoots which often last just a week or two, the crew was there for many months. During that extended time, I got to know many local families and was privileged to visit their homes. One of the things that amused me greatly was watching television with them as many of the programs were American shows dubbed into Serbo-Croatian, and they seemed so strange with foreign dialogue.

Yesterday, watching the Throne Speech from Victoria, I experienced a similar disconnect — there was a right wing Socred/Liberal government trying to speak in NDP/Green. Knowing the players involved, little of it made sense, especially as they had been saying quite opposite only a month before, cursing the very policies they were now trying to tell us they supported.

Christy Clark and her clownish crew claim that their deathbed conversion (aka, wholesale flip-flop) is due to “listening to the people.”  This not unreasonably implies that they have not been listening for the last 16 years. The fact is Christy Clark and her people are so scared of losing power — and having their shenanigans exposed — that they are happy to say that black is white and hot is cold; forgetting, of course, that the BC public are just not as stupid as they are.

Clark was also caught openly saying that her entire plan for this session was to embarrass the NDP/Green into supporting them by stealing their policies. We are lucky that both Horgan and Weaver have more backbone than that.

Clark will now sink like a stone. The big-money capitalists that have financed her lavish lifestyle for so long don’t like losers; and that is exactly what she is: a deceitful, unprincipled, lying loser. And may she quickly be forgotten.

 


Today’s the Day

June 22, 2017

The Socred-Tory-Liberals will today bring forward a Throne Speech that will contain many of the best parts of the NDP and Green platforms (and which the Socreds ran against only two months ago).

The arch-pirate Christy Clark says the opposition will be “embarrassed” to vote against her proposals. But this is a bluff that will be called, and her right-wing regime will sink beneath the waves to the joy of most.

Where the real cynicism will be evident is when Horgan introduces legislation that Clark says she supports in the Queen’s Speech, but which she and her caucus will then vote against as they have so many times before.

This whole charade is nothing but politics, treating the people of BC as if they were dumb. They are not, and they can see through the self-serving meanness of Clark’s wholesale dishonesty.

 


The BC Election — Shame About the Greens

May 6, 2017

In my earlier post about the election, I suggested that an NDP-Green coalition would be the best outcome. I have changed my mind, having lost all confidence in the integrity of the BC Green Party and most especially in their leader.

Weaver and his party are perfectly correct in their desire to see climate change dealt with as a priority. No problem there and I applaud their efforts (though their curt dismissal of the Leap Manifesto shows them to be as MOR as the others in essence). But in most other policies and attitudes, Weaver has shown himself to be an old-time Tory — and that isn’t good for any of us.

The BC Greens’ candidates are uniformly white and heavily male; not a single person of colour or of FN descent is included. Their apologists say they have had “diverse” candidates before; so why not now?  Either none applied (which begs the question), or none were accepted (which begs further questions).  Apparently it is OK for BC Green candidates to be a gun lobbyist or a lover of young “bitchez” or a conspiracy theorist — but not someone of colour. That is very troubling.

Weaver himself has mumbled and fumbled and made stuff up, so much so that he appears to be Trump-like in his confusion about the facts. And, of course, both he and his deputy have said they would be happy enough to see Christy Clark and her corruption back in office rather than those evil leftwingers in the NDP.

No, I am sad to say that the Greens just won’t cut it in this election with those policies and with that leadership.

Clearly, for all our sakes and for the future of our wonderful province, the BC Liberals (Socreds and Tories by any other name) must be sent packing. That means an NDP government for there are no other realistic choices today. There will be much I will not support when the NDP controls the Provincial Government, but I know my dissatisfactions will be minor compared to the disaster another Liberal term will bring.

I urge all my readers to take a look at the Your Political Party. Clearly they won’t go far this time, but they have good ideas for honest democracy and I hope they can build themselves into something useful in the future.


GW All-Candidates’ Meeting

May 2, 2017

Last night I attended the joint all-candidates’ meeting for the provincial ridings of Vancouver -Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings (Commercial Drive is a dividing line between the two ridings). It was well-attended in Britannia Gym D and well-arranged by Britannia Community Services, GWAC, the Kettle, and others.  Several hundred people were there, enjoying the good free food (bean soup and salad) and a warm sense of community, which contrasted strongly with a similar event four years ago when we had an essentially empty auditorium.

So far as I could tell, all the candidates from both ridings showed up, including the Liberals which has not been the case in other ridings that have been reported. The format was a World Cafe style forum. Every candidate in turn was given three minutes to make their pitch, one from Mount Pleasant, then one from Hastings. When that was done, each candidate circulated among residents’ tables to have a more in depth chat, every group of voters getting to spend some time with each candidate. It’s a decent format for these kind of events.

Both these ridings are very safe NDP strongholds, and I doubt the result here on 9th May will surprise anyone, and I doubt last night’s event changed any minds. But it is good to hear the lesser-known candidates give their pitch.

I have to say that David Kroll (Green, Mount Pleasant) came across as a snake oil salesman (a bit like Weaver himself), while the two young Liberals, Connie Lin (Mount Pleasant) and Jane Spitz, presented as high-schoolers thrown in to make up the numbers. The two communists, including Peter Marcuse who seems to have run in every election since I was born, gave voice to their long-term dreams of a socialist paradise, while a couple of independents gave less lucid arguments for why they should be chosen.

Shane Simpson (NDP, Hastings), our long-time incumbent and firm favourite to retain the riding, stuck firmly to the Horgan speaking lines of affordability, stable jobs, and fixing the services the Liberals have broken.

Melanie Mark, the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant — with whom I have had my differences in the past — came across as the real leader she could be. She is a strong woman, from a challenged background, she has worked both on the streets and in the halls of the Victoria bureaucracy, she speaks well and with great passion.  I couldn’t help thinking she will be the leader of the party after Horgan has had his turn (win or lose this election).

When I left the hall, I sat outside in the Napier Greenway listening to the Carnival Band conducting their usual Monday night practice.  This is a grand place, Grandview-Woodland.

 


A Different Kind of All-Candidates’ Meeting

April 24, 2017

There is an upcoming opportunity to get up close and personal with all the folks running for office in the Provincial election. But the format is much different than in previous elections, allowing for a more vigorous discussion.

Joint All-Candidates’ Meeting for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings,

Monday May 1st in Gym D at Britannia from 6:30pm.

The meeting is sponsored by GWAC, Britannia, REACH, VPL, Kettle, and Aboriginal Friendship Centre. Quoting from their release:

All ten candidates running in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings have said they are coming.

The format for this event is different from All-Candidates Meetings in previous elections.

6:30-7:00 — Everyone is welcome to enjoy socializing over a free light meal (vegetarian soup or chili, buns, butter, salad, and dessert).
7:00-7:45 — Each candidate will have an opportunity to make a 3-minute prepared statement.
7:45-9:00 — Participants will sit at either Hastings or Mount Pleasant tables while candidates in their riding visit their tables to have informal conversations about the issues that concern them — World Café style.

Should be interesting!


First Thoughts On The Provincial Election

February 27, 2017

It is only about 8 or 9 weeks until the next Provincial election. We’ve had the pre-election giveaway budget (not very exciting, to be frank) and we’ve had the opposition statements on the pre-election budget (which were even less exciting). We have the government spending our tax dollars pimping their policies in TV and newspaper ads; and we have Horgan replying to these in an unexciting and generally boring way.

pair-of-them

Clearly I am not going to vote for the Socreds hiding (not very well) in BC Liberals clothing. Not only are their policies anti-personnel and pro-business, but they also can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar whenever that honey pot is stuck in front of their face by developers, foreign drillers, LNG merchants etc.

Chances are I won’t vote for the NDP either. Social democratic parties are the enablers of a brutal capitalism. They support the underlying system and just try to make it seem better by ameliorating the worst effects. So far as they are concerned, capitalism is fine and dandy so long as we can take some of the pain away so most people don’t recognise the banal evil of the system itself.

Besides, this is a provincial election: I don’t kid myself that I understand the problems and issues of folks living in Nakusp or Prince Rupert or the Peace. But I do kid myself that I have a reasonable understanding of the issues facing Vancouverites and I base my choices on those. From what I have said earlier, it should be clear that I am not about to endorse one or other party in this election. Instead, I will lay out provincial policies that I want to see — and I will hold my breath as an anarchist and add my vote to any party that goes along with these.

  1. Changes to the Vancouver Charter that bring back wards and prohibit political parties from operating at the municipal level, and returns us to a two- or three-year election cycle;
  2. Changes to electoral financing regulations that prohibit corporate and union donations, that strictly limit all spending on elections, that make all donations — in every year — public knowledge within 6 months of payment (no more hidden money in years outside the election cycle);
  3. Introduce creative provincial taxation to eliminate pipelines by cost (land taxes, cleanup taxes, business taxes, etc); do you think Kinder Morgan will continue to build if it costs another, say, million or two million dollars per mile?
  4. Reduce or eliminate all business subsidies and grants, putting all the funds into truly affordable housing, based on a percentage of median income in each region).

I’m guessing I won’t be voting again this year.