THE BLOG

B.C. Could Use A Green Upset This Election

04/25/2013 12:12 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT
Jane Sterk

No provincial election in Canada is as thrilling as that of British Columbia's.

British Columbia is where new parties are truly given the benefit of the doubt like in no other province. For instance, one would think the British Columbia Social Credit Party's premature death in 1991 would be an exception but in B.C.'s political journey - it's a typical story for their modern mainstream parties. Only in B.C. can parties come back from the dead to be contenders once again.

Since that election of 1991 however -- B.C. has only gone back and forth between the NDP and the Liberals. I hope that will change in the current B.C. election.

With the death of the right-leaning Liberal party of Christy Clark on the horizon -- it's no wonder the party mirrors the story of the NDP just a decade ago when it was reduced to two seats under then Premier Ujal Dusanji. The NDP was then replaced by a centrist Liberal party under one-time Vancouver mayor, Gordon Campbell. This time the NDP that was on its death bed just a decade ago is expected to produce a healthy majority.

The Conservative party as well as the Greens are expected to play a small part in the election that is less than a month away. But then again, B.C. elections are unpredictable and with the Harper Conservatives playing a huge part in the Liberals' re-election effort - no party should be discounted including the minor players.

I strongly believe the BC Greens should never be discounted as they seem to have thoughtful ideas and exceptional candidates running for them. Their becoming a mainstream political option has been a long time in the making and it is beginning to show. The party that was once run by a 21-year-old dynamo named Stuart Parker has continually produced ideas and perspectives that are worth looking at more closely.

Under Parker, the party managed to run almost a full slate of candidates inviting mainstream, passionate candidates to run under its banner. It even went from under 1 per cent of support to 11 per cent at one point with Parker's lead.

Then the party sensing an electoral victory began to work with the NDP and unions to ensure a historic win for the once neglected party. It experimented with municipal politics by working with the NDP and unions producing its first ever Green as a City Councillor. Stuart's youthful dream to compromise in order to achieve an electoral win was dashed when he lost his party's leadership to Adriane Carr in 2000.

She quickly ended that foray and the party went back to being a voice instead of a political movement.

As Carr resigned and joined municipal politics, Albertan native Jane Sterk took over the leadership of the party. Her story was not that of just environmentalists but that of an award winning businesswoman - a rare combination in Green politics.

The business she owned in Alberta for instance -- upon her retirement -- employed 33 people and had annual revenue of $6 million. She was pulled into Green politics after observing ocean pollution and instant development that was causing environmental and human damage while in Mexico.

Is there a better reason to be active in electoral politics?

As she took the leadership of the party, she also tried to expand it by recruiting candidates who reflect modern-day British Columbia. The candidates were diverse: successful business people, sensible environmentalists, students and new Canadians.

One such impressive candidate is Daniel Tseghay who is running in a close race in Vancouver-False Creek. He truly has a chance to pull in an upset and I hope he does. B.C. politics needs a shake up and there is no better candidate to do that than this young activist.

Tseghay is a noted and eloquent writer and activist. He also hails from Eritrea, giving the party an instant diversity that it lacked over the years. To those British Columbians who usually look at the two traditional parities to support, Tseghay gives the BC Greens hope, just like his leader.

He recently wrote how: "British Columbians are told that their options are to stay the course, continue as usual, ultimately vote into power one of the two parties which has done the most to get us here. But with even a cursory look at our situation, we can agree that the status quo just isn't good enough". Tell them Tseghay.

He continued: "Amidst the human story is an environmental one. Though coal produces the most greenhouse gases of the many dirty fossil fuels, B.C. remains its largest exporter in Canada - and continues plans to expand, with intentions to build 10 more coal mines, doubling its coal exports. Concerning these, and many other pressing issues, the two parties poised to win the most seats maintain lamentably similar policies. Their differences are of degree rather than kind. And that's the problem. We need new tools and new voices". Indeed.

How can anyone disagree with that? There is absolutely no way a Green leadership that understands how business works, that reflects diversity in people and combines practical perspectives on many issues rather than just on the environment and brings so much passion should be neglected as a minor player in the current B.C. election. The BC Greens deserve to be heard and be treated accordingly for the ultimate betterment of B.C. politics in general.

The maturity of the BC Greens gives Canadian politics hope.