This is one of the first blog posts on the re-election campaign platform of the New Democratic Party in British Columbia (BC).
The New Democrats have taken note of the persistent controversy around the dumping of tainted fill into soil. This is the same place where an investigation from the B.C. Coroners Service found parts of the Westjet 737 passed by passengers shortly before it crashed into an Aspen Mountain peak last July.
The B.C. NDP have vowed to establish a new independent watchdog to police the transportation industry.
The B.C. New Democrats have promised to offer free prescription drugs to British Columbians, and to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The party said it will provide health care to all British Columbians at “a fixed cost and guarantee quality care to every family.”
Another key plank of the party’s platform is financial support for seniors. It pledges to create a new retirement income supplement for those between the ages of 65 and 74 who are struggling to make ends meet.
To boost mental health, the B.C. NDP said it will follow Ontario and pursue a ban on private sale of tobacco products.
Speaking of tobacco, the B.C. New Democrats also promised to make the province smoke-free, both indoors and outdoors. And it’s one of only three provinces to do so.
Other issues affecting British Columbians
The B.C. NDP also pledged to fight climate change, providing funding to train and equip young British Columbians in green technology.
The party said it will build new sustainable communities that can create well-paying jobs. As well, it pledged to “renegotiate and repeal” a law passed in the B.C. legislature in 2008 that enforces a 35% reduction in natural gas production.
In addition, the B.C. NDP will work with Ottawa to enact a safe injection site in Vancouver and guarantee health benefits for the children of veterans.
Addressing a need for mental health support is also on the NDP’s list. The party’s platform pledges to develop support services and training programs to improve quality of life.
It’s no surprise that the B.C. NDP platform focuses on ideas and approaches central to each party’s core. What has been surprising to some in British Columbia is the seemingly slow pace at which environmental ideas are being addressed.
If history is any guide, the Liberals are not particularly likely to change their position on this crucial issue.
The main Liberal campaign promise was not to have the Green Party part of a coalition government. If a coalition of all parties were to form, the Liberals would hold 87 seats in the B.C. legislature compared to the NDP’s 41 seats and the Greens’ four.
What’s most striking is the opportunity missed by environmentalists, opposition parties and business leaders who have been advocating for meaningful government action on climate change. They’ve almost every chance to have their voices heard in the lead-up to the May provincial election.
B.C. provincial elections were held in 1997 and 2001 under the B.C. Liberal Party. The Ontario Green Party was elected in 2009 and 2014. The NDP took power in Alberta in 2015 and re-elected them in 2016. The most recent election in Saskatchewan saw the left-leaning Saskatchewan Party re-elected. The right-leaning Saskatchewan Party was defeated. In each case, those right-leaning parties were faced with major challenges from economic crises of their own.
For example, British Columbia experienced an oil and gas boom between 1991 and 2000, with the production of hundreds of millions of barrels of oil from the province. Oil prices reached an all-time high in 1999. Production nearly tripled and reserves increased more than 30 times in a short time.
New technology greatly increased the energy efficiency of industry. Meanwhile, a more environmentally concerned population used less energy. Yet, the environmental damage to the landscape and the well-being of residents continued.
Today, B.C. is producing 1.5 times the amount of oil and natural gas and is exporting a fifth of its exports.
The NDP says this problem with the oil sands occurred before its government took office.
Regardless, British Columbians deserve to see their leaders demand change on issues as critical as climate change.
The largest green organization in B.C., the Clean Energy Society, has not endorsed any party in the election campaign. However, we’re supporting a number of the individual candidates who share our principles, including several on the B.C. NDP platform.
They are Caroline Bennett, Mike Farnworth, Sharon Clugston, Maynard Cardinal, Tim Louis, Terry Lake, Brian Masse, Barinder Rasode, Mike