In the run up to the May 14 election, I’ll be talking about this election’s Big Losers. Stay tuned!
I have done my best to make it abundantly clear that I’ve had unwavering loyalty to the BC Liberals in the past. Part of being a party hack obviously involved writing letters to the editor, calling into radio programs, and of course, attacking the NDP. I can, with only referring to talking points of the last six years, explain dozens of reasons why you shouldn’t vote for the NDP.
Part of my political reawakening involved realizing that not all the NDP are bad. Some of them have good ideas and some of them have great ideas (and yes, some of them have horrible ideas). But that’s academic in parliamentary democracy, because in parliamentary democracy, all opposition ideas are either:
- swept under the rug as “bad ideas;” or
- reappropriated or perverted by the ruling party to make it their own
All too often, of course, government picks option number one: they scrap the idea and toss it aside because if an NDPer thought it up, it can’t be useful. Sometimes the disgusting result is that very good ideas are discarded as useless and we all suffer for it. It’s hilarious that here in Canada, you can choose a legislator who ends up with no legislative abilities. If your candidate is not sitting in government, you can forget about them passing meaningful legislation that will improve your life.
With my new outlook in political life, I was happy to see Adrian Dix and the NDP campaigning on “Change for the Better” (while Christy Clark was touting the bland “Strong Economy, Secure Tomorrow,” which sounds like it was picked from David Letterman’s “Top Ten Cliché Campaign Slogans”).
Maybe, I thought, we would see change for the better.
Maybe we would be able to vote on election day for the person we wanted the most, not the person we hated the least.
Maybe we could vote across any party line and expect to be fairly and reasonably represented by that MLA.
Maybe our legislators would meet for more than three weeks a session.
Maybe they would pass meaningful legislation that would improve our lives.
Maybe Question Period would become less of a dog and pony show where grown men and women yell at each other like children, hurl insults at each other from across the room, slam desks like neanderthals, and generally make asses of themselves for the sake of a soundbite while a berobed politician quietly whispers “order.”
Maybe instead we would have civilized discussion where our legislators held themselves and their peers accountable to the citizens that elected them.
If I had Adrian Dix’s ear at the start of the campaign, I would have told him three words:
Don’t Say Anything.
This was Dix’s campaign to lose — he had it in the bag. He could have pointed at a picture of Christy Clark and shouted “HST, Quickwins, HST, BC Rail!” to a crowd of screaming fans and he would have been elected Premier of British Columbia.
Fortunately for people who care about the future of the province, he started talking and demonstrated that the NDP was not a better choice than the Liberals — he was just as bad.
The BCNDP are obviously making some smart moves, such as courting the film / tech vote, but they’re making a lot of bad ones, too, such as racking up billions in their fantasy budget. They’re promising a lot and they’re promising to raise taxes to do it, which is more restrained than the NDP typically is, but is hardly reassuring.
Much to their credit, they also promised to eliminate donations from corporations and unions. While Mary Polak claims this is shifting the burden onto taxpayers (which is absurd alarmism at best), unions and corporations shouldn’t be allowed to donate to political parties.
While the BC NDP make more money from unions than do the BC Liberals, they also make less money from unions than the Liberals do from corporations, so it’s not exactly tit-for-tat. The BC NDP gets most of its money from individuals, so again, you can see how it plays out better for the BC NDP, but ultimately it serves to even the playing field. It’s also important to remember that for every corporate or union cheque a party receives today, 9 times out of 10 it’s signed by an intimate party insider — now they’ll need to donate money in their own name, which is obviously better for democracy (see Sascha Peter’s breakdown for more detailed statistics).
Of course, this great policy proposal is offset by the fact that the NDP have been “shaking down” companies that donated to the BC Liberals, thus proving — as if there was any doubt — that the best way to get government to look at your proposal is to give them money at election time. The arrogant NDP, confident in their swagger, are fine with asking corporations for money while proposing an end to corporate donations. Companies that do cough up money stand to win in the long run, per the NDP’s shakedown, so that has to make you queasy.
The NDP are hardly practicing what they preach, too, as they’ve been staunchly against the Northern Gateway Pipeline but also accepted over $9000 in donations from Enbridge. Political parties routinely return donations from less-than-desirable people, be they companies or individuals, just due to optics, because a returned donation doesn’t need to be reported to Elections BC (obviously). Why the NDP didn’t do this with Enbridge — which is synonymous with “wrecking the environment” — is an absolute mystery. Seriously, they couldn’t have been hurting for cash that bad?
Ultimately, the shame of it all is that important issues are being left aside in favour of discussing who did what, when, and who is better at managing the economy. Oh, did Christy Clark cheat at SFU? How many memos did Adrian Dix backdate? Zzz, wake me up when an actual leader decides to run.
Dix and Clark have been slinging mud at each other since the word go. Important issues are being discarded (aside from Dix occasionally saying we need “better healthcare” – thanks for the update — healthcare and education have all but been left out of the debate) and instead we’re looking at imaginary platforms based on imaginary budgets. Gone from this election is any real debate, any real revolutionary policy decisions, and any real idea of collaboration. Instead, it’s like we’re all being asked to imagine we’re a CEO and we’re hiring the world’s lamest middle manager ever. We need to pick someone who isn’t stunningly incompetent, is kind of OK with people, won’t rock the boat, and can kind of stick within a budget.With these two especially, it’s a race to the bottom of the barrel.
I can’t say unequivocally that a vote for the NDP is a bad choice. They have a few good candidates running — David Eby is a star, for example, and Matt Toner actually knows and cares about BC’s fledgling video game industry and struggling and film – but by and large, the choices aren’t great. We’re left with a slew of mediocre men and women who probably won’t end up representing anyone because the BC NDP, like every other party, will run such a tight ship in caucus that it’s a moot point. I’m not voting for the NDP in my riding and I’d say there’s a 95% chance you shouldn’t vote for the NDP in yours. You could do worse than a BC NDP government in BC, I guess, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement.
I’ve saved the best for last! Tomorrow, Sunday, May the 11th, just two days before the Big Day, I’m going to detail who the biggest loser of this election is. It might not be that big a shocker.