"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.
The B.C. provincial government has been throwing around some big numbers and promises with the planned expansion of natural gas operations, but one large number missing in the discussion is the millions of tonnes of heat-trapping methane gas they are not reporting in official government documents. And, with the planned expansion of natural gas extraction and exports, B.C.'s climate targets are set to rise by as much as 25 per cent, or the equivalent of adding three million cars to our province's roads.
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.
Trudeau needs to attack Harper's strongest point: the economy. While he has been doing that in the House of Commons, only avid politicos will be aware of it. He needs to bring those criticism on a larger scale and reach more Canadians via advertisements.
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?
Last September, while swimming against a tidal wave of negative public opinion, I predicted the BC Liberal Party led by Premier Christy Clark would win the May 2013 election. Understandably, most readers scoffed. I can assure you that I am no Nostradamus. Don't bother asking me which stock to pick or what the 649 Lottery numbers will be. Rather, I relish being a contrarian. It is my nature to question the prevailing view on a range of topics - politics in particular - and to hopefully stir intelligent debate.
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.
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 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.
Natural gas, being sold as a huge job creator is actually an employment deadbeat. While natural gas contributes fully 3.2% of our total GDP, its work force is tiny, just 3,500 souls, or .15% of provincial employment. Electrical equipment manufacturers employ more people in B.C. than oil and gas. Natural gas is shipped east through pipelines, so there are no trucking or ports benefits. And most of the $6 billion in natural gas earnings don't stay in B.C., but take a direct flight across the Rockies to Calgary. Which might explain why some B.C. politicians organize fundraisers there.
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.
On May 14, British Columbians vote in their provincial election. If the NDP wins power in such a strategically important and rich jurisdiction such as this one -- a keystone within the Canadian resource economy -- B.C. voters will have chosen economic decline.