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Posted: May 31, 2017

Where will the cookie crumble in B.C. politics now?

“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

With the final result of the BC election now known – a Liberal minority – the cookie has finally crumbled and the only thing left to decide is where will the crumbs go?

The possibilities seemed endless, but when you look at the situation strategically only one strategy made sense – the Greens, who hold the balance of power – going to the party that specializes in shooting itself in the foot. By that, of course, I mean the NDP.

Sorry all of you good socialists out there. I know you work hard and genuinely care about the sick, the oppressed and the marginalized of the world, but you’re also awfully good at eating your own. Just ask former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt who said himself he took a “silver bullet” for the NDP. Then there was former NDP leader Carole James, done in by her own colleagues after taking her party’s representation from two to 33 seats in the legislature. And what about Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft right next door to us, who should have easily held on to Norm Macdonald’s seat. But thanks to the NDP’s equity-seeking policy, he had to declare himself a bisexual in order to get an NDP nomination. The rest, as they say, is history and Taft lost by almost 2,000 votes. If Taft had won as he was originally expected to, the NDP and Liberals would have finished the election in a dead heat with 43 seats each and the NDP would be in a far stronger position than they are today.

But that’s what happens when you trade common sense for ideology.

So why am I saying the Greens should make kissy-face with the NDP? The answer is purely political. The Greens have more in common with the environmentally-sensitive and socially conscious NDP than they do with the environmentally-destructive, corporately-beholden and arrogant Liberals, which are today’s version of the old “funny money, free enterprise” Socreds, who faded from the B.C. political scene almost 30 years ago.

Do we want the Socreds back? I don’t think so. There’s even lots of Liberals that don’t want the ghost of Wacky Bennett stalking the legislative corridors again. That’s why it is smart for the Greens to go to the NDP. Going to the Liberals would certainly be tempting and a savvy politician like Christy Clark would certainly make them a dazzling offer. Why do you think Clark calls Green leader Andrew Weaver “Doctor” all the time? But I think the Green rank and file would have revolted if Weaver got in bed with a party that covets corporate donations over everything including clean water and fresh air.

So, because Weaver is smart he’s formed a coalition with the NDP, even though he and NDP leader John Horgan don’t get along. But we’re talking politics and not personalities. The Greens and the NDP are on the same page on party financing reform. They both oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the NDP has said they would be willing to “review” the expensive and unnecessary Site C Dam, which the Greens oppose outright. But this leaves a skunk in the woodpile, namely a proportional representation electoral system instead of first past the post. This is Weaver’s top priority and he wants the government to enact pro-rep unilaterally while Horgan insists on approval by referendum before he’d institute pro-rep and given that B.C. voters have twice rejected pro-rep in previous referendums I think Horgan is on the side of the angels on this one.

So, in my modest opinion, I think it’s going to be the contentious proportional representation issue that’s going to determine where the cookie crumbles and the makeup of our next government. If Weaver is smart he’ll compromise on pro-rep and go with Horgan’s position of a third referendum. If he’s not smart and cunning Christy, desperate to hold on to her job, offers to install pro-rep unilaterally, he may go with her.

And if he does, I think the Green Party will have a short and unproductive life in B.C. politics.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who’s attended a few back-room political discussions in his time.

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