I felt a huge lump in the pit of my stomach, mouth agape, as I looked in shock at the TV in the corner of the room. CTV News declared a Majority Liberal government. How did this happen? Angry and bitter, I wanted heads to roll.
"As leader of the BC NDP, I take full responsibility for this defeat...no ifs, ands or buts." That's what Adrian Dix told reporters at a news conference last Wednesday, following his party's surprise failure to win the recent provincial election. Nevertheless, there are many more people who should be shouldering that responsibility. But the press hasn't made it easy for the public or party members to finger who those people are.
I've had conversations with some in the media and I've yet to see someone quote me, so I'll say it here; we are insular and provincial in B.C. And unless we ignore the Alex Tsakumises of the world when they piously bleat about the Premier being unfit for office because she showed some goodwill and good nature by sharing a joke about MILFs with a radio host (who was fired for it btw), or ignore the media prattling on for weeks because of a dancing penis prank on a gay MLA (I've yet to meet gays who don't enjoy dick jokes) we are going to reap what we sow -- which is small numbers of people running for public office and even less numbers qualified to run for premier.
When done right and accounting for the environment -- and it can be done right -- whether lumber, mined materials, or the export of oil and natural gas, Canada's greater prosperity is helped when politicians follow the advice of Canada's founding fathers and consider the greater prosperity of the entire country.
British Columbians, both voters and politicians, who care about democracy need to start talking about electoral reform again. A minority of voters elected a B.C. Liberal majority government. Here's one way Legislature can one day be reflective of the people you see on the streets of every city, town and village across the province.
British Columbia had all the makings of Canada's "environmental election." Pipelines and tankers, forests and coastlines, oil and gas, dominated much of the political debate and news coverage. But in the end, pro-development Christy Clark won. So, should pro-growth advocates be celebrating the end of the road for environmentalism as a political force? Not so fast.
Over 35 years, the NDP has seen its share of the popular vote decline and its actual vote stall, despite an electorate that has nearly doubled in size over the same period. Parties that don't grow their base lose and risk withering away. The message for the NDP in all these numbers is ominous and it's not just about Adrian Dix. It may have more to do with the brand.
Since 2009, the Liberals have shuffled ministers in and out of the Ministers of Citizens' Services and Open Government role so quickly that there's hardly been a chance to make any meaningful progress.
The BC election results flew in the face of pollsters and pundits alike, with Christy Clark pulling off the win many said was all but a pipe dream. But should federal Liberals pause to ponder before breaking out the bubbly?
Instead of hammering Clark and the Liberals with attack ads, reminding the voters why they were sick and tired of the Clark Liberals, due to their myriad of scandals, blunders, HST tax, costly government programs and arrogance, Dix tried to be Mr. Nice Guy.
Obviously, the face of B.C., quite literally, is changing. Immigrants account for 45 per cent of the population in Vancouver, 52 per cent in Surrey, 59 per cent in Burnaby and 70 per cent in Richmond. Immigrant populations are rising everywhere, even in the whitest regions of the province. And they aren't buying what the NDP is selling. Big government. Vast social programs. Union allegiance.
This was an election defined by fear and apathy. The lesson here is that negative advertising does work and voters still see B.C. as a two party province. I was appalled at my own numbers when they appeared after 8 p.m
The complacency for most of the B.C. NDP campaign was stunning.Dix backed himself into a corner with this entire positive, nice-nice, err on the side of caution theme. When he did begin to fight back against the attacks, it was just too late. The NDP began to look extremely hypocritical.
I think both the NDP and the Greens owe it to the public to make a peace treaty and find a way to show everyone that we can work together for solutions that are good for people and the planet. This is an important lesson for us to learn before the upcoming federal election, while we still have time to find ways to work together. Big Oil won a battle this week but they haven't won the war.
The Liberal Party of B.C. is not a brilliant outfit by any means. Much of its agenda is faddish and unscientific, and, if past performance is any indication, simply doesn't work. Yet it's also the party associated with business, capitalism, status, success, and wealth -- and now a four-term majority government to boot. What does make many squeamish, however, is the idea of a party run by hippies and radicals who dogmatically cling to the 20th century's most discredited economic theory simply for reasons of pride or denial. It comes off as a little pathetic.
Did you know that political strategists are counting on you not to vote? Senior BC Liberal strategists say this to reassure their nervous supporters: "Our base leans to older voters, whereas the NDP base leans to the 18-34 age group (older voters vote)." Now technically, there's nothing untrue about that statement. But whether you're voting Liberal, NDP, Green or Conservative, merely casting your ballot is putting your thumb in the eye of decrepit politicos who have already dismissed you.