"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.
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.
The BC Liberals and particularly Premier Christy Clark deserve the praise they're receiving for their surprise electoral victory. After all, the Liberals reversed a double-digit deficit in the polls and ended up securing a majority government. This moment of jubilation for the Liberals and their supporters will be short-lived however, as the reality of governing in difficult times takes hold. The litmus test for the success of this government, which they themselves established, is the success of the economy and in particular, jobs.
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.
The Green Party receives a C-, the best grade of bad overall grades in Report Card on British Columbia Parties' Democratic Good Government Platforms -- Conservatives receive a D-, NDP a D-, and Liberals an F. A Dishonesty Downgrade of one full grade is also shown in the Report Card results -- usually only half of all promises are kept because of the lack of an honesty-in-politics law which is needed to effectively penalize promise-breakers and those who deliberately mislead.
It's been exasperating to see the BC Liberals try to court the Filipino vote through superficial events designed to be nothing but photo-ops and not engage the community by talking about specific issues. They don't seem to be concerned with providing anything substantive because they don't seem to have anything in their platform they can point to as evidence of being engaged with the community.
B.C.'s election has featured a string of high-profile firings and disqualifications, and they've all left the attackers looking like irrelevant old-timers, relics of an era when it might have been possible to complain about forum posts and retain some shred of dignity. The Internet has given us the mudslinging equivalent of a nuclear standoff and mutually assured destruction has brought a continued ceasefire, perhaps then we can dispense with the winging and get on with the business of government.
I must confess to being entirely unsure what Gordon Wilson's endorsement of the Liberals actually does for leader Christy Clark or her party, who have been having the campaign of their dreams to this point. Seriously, with endorsements like Wilson's, who needs Dave Babych? There have been musings Wilson can help shore up centre-left votes. But that will be very hard to do while the party runs endless TV spots of Clark sounding like a fiscal hawk. Note to Clark and the BC Liberals: You don't need Gordon Wilson. You're doing just fine.
Over the past three decades, the percentage of British Columbians who actually vote has steadily fallen, from more than 70 per cent to a little over half last time out, when nearly one out of every two voters seemingly slept the day away and never bothered to cast a ballot. In fact, B.C. has the dubious distinction of having some of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, which says a lot when you consider that some of those other provinces don't have much to boast about either.
The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, sent all four parties a questionnaire pushing them for clear positions on how they would stop the erosion of our privacy rights and defend our access to government records through Freedom of Information. On April 30th, we received responses from the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens (we've yet to hear back from the Conservatives). They all had interesting, if decidedly different things to say.