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Posted: April 9, 2023

Former premier Horgan shows his true colours

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

So former BC Premier John Horgan has gone to the dark side.

That’s how some people feel in the wake of the announcement April 1 that the former premier and NDP leader had joined the board of directors of Elk Valley Resources, the biggest coal company in B.C. and one of the biggest polluters in the province. This wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. Horgan will now be helping to set policy for a major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter and global contributor to climate change around the world.

Considering that burning coal is one of the biggest sources of GHGs in the world, Horgan couldn’t have been thinking too much about climate change when he made his controversial announcement. But when you look at his political record since becoming premier in 2017 Horgan never has been too concerned about environmental issues. What’s worse is neither has his party.

I say this with more than a little reluctance because there was a time in B.C. politics when the NDP was in the vanguard of environmental concern in the province going all the way back to opposing the Columbia River Treaty, opposing the Site C dam and opposing many of the polluting resource projects of the former Social Credit and Liberal governments in Beautiful B.C.

But not anymore!

Under Horgan’s leadership, the NDP discovered it could get into bed with the capitalists and like it. And they convinced many members of organized labour in the province to make it a threesome.

So now we see the spectacle of the NDP and the so-called “BC United Party,” once erroneously known as the Liberal Party, under the covers having a grand old time while they give carte blanche to industry to clear cut our remaining old-growth timber, build new oil pipelines and construct the Site C dam in a heavily fracked earthquake zone, a project that Horgan initially opposed. Yes, we need industry. But not unfettered industry with few environmental controls.

I can just see former B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett of Bennett Dam fame up there on a cloud looking down saying: “I taught them well.” What a nightmare and it’s happening all over B.C. and the world.

This is not idle talk. “Wacky” Bennett, as he was popularly known, was in power for 20 years, our longest serving premier. How did he win for so long? He united the feuding and cantankerous right-wing voters in the province under one party – Social Credit – and went on to win seven consecutive elections by a party that was effectively a disparate coalition of right-wing true believers.

Former socialist John Horgan has now done the same thing for David Eby, setting him up to lead a left/liberal coalition to govern B.C. for the foreseeable future.

That’s poppycock you say. Well, consider this. Upon hearing that Horgan had been elevated to the Elk Valley Resources board, what did BC United Party house leader Todd Stone say? “Frankly, it’s fantastic that a former premier, particularly a former NDP premier, has decided to embrace as his next career step working with a very reputable group of people.” Golly! Aren’t those politicians and business CEOs a cozy bunch? Give them a few years and we’ll have a new political coalition running the province.

I wonder what they’ll call it? I hope it’s something more honest than BC United as they gush about how “reputable” Elk Valley Resources is as it pollutes the Elk River with toxic selenium killing endangered westslope cutthroat trout

The brutal reality for the NDP today is they’re just as eager as any other party to play the good old “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” brand of coalition politics. Where’s the social conscience? Where’s the social democracy? Where’s their concern about the environment?

Gone with the wind. That’s where it is.

It’s a sad state-of-affairs in so-called “Beautiful BC” when we have two major political parties playing the cynical game of coalition politics facing an overwhelmed opposition of only three members with the cards stacked heavily against them.

No wonder the voter turnout continues to get lower.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has never forgotten a thing about the treacherous world of B.C. politics, and also believes a politician remains a public figure even after retirement.

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