By Roy L Hales
Few believed Andrew Weaver, when he said “We’re running to govern this province” a week ago. The most optimistic commentators thought the Green might get an extra seat, perhaps two. That scenario ended yesterday, when the Vancouver SUN published a summary of the latest poll from Mainstreet Research. The Greens are leading, in terms of decided voters, on Vancouver Island, 25% to the NDP’s 22% and Liberals 20%. Add in the statistics for parties the respondents are “considering” and they are tied with the Liberals at 32%. Are the Greens on the threshold of a major breakthrough in BC?
Are The Greens On The Threshold Of A Major Breakthrough?
They are the only party that Mainstream’s data shows increasing their foothold in the province over the past month. The NDP slipped 3% (from 39% to 36%), the Conservatives 2% (from 13% to 11%) and the Liberals 1% (from 35% to 34%). By way of contrast, the Greens have added another 6% and now stand at 17%.
In addition to being poised to take a major share of Vancouver Island’s 11 seats, the Greens have suddenly become a contender across the province.
Voters are no longer forced to choose between Christy Clark and the NDP (led by “what’s his name.”) There is a third option.
What’s The Difference Between The Greens and NDP?
So, what’s the difference between the Greens and NDP?
Both parties say we must stop plundering the province’s natural resources (like forests, mines, fossil fuels & fish) and corporations (BC Hydro, BC Ferries & BC Med).
According to Green Leader Andrew Weaver, “If we stay the course like the BC Liberals and the BC NDP largely plan to do, we’ll be the first generation in history to leave our children worse off than we are.”
He’s not just talking about climate change, though it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the rise of average global temperatures can be held to 2 degrees celsius.
Yesterday Sue Moen, the Green candidate for North Island, told me that the NDP have some good people and good policies but they do not go far enough.1
Speaking as an outsider, three distinct differences stick out.
- Though both the NDP and Greens believe corporations and unions should not be allowed to make campaign contributions to political parties, the Greens are the only party that refuse to accept such donations. The NDP are not willing to forgo these revenues up until there is legislation ensuring the BC Liberals are barred from corporate funding.
- Both the NDP and Greens are watching the provincial and federal governments enable a ramp up of fossil fuel production to the point that, unless market forces intervene, our emissions are more likely to go up than down. However only the Greens have taken a position against new LNG export terminals.
- The Greens believe that their candidate’s first loyalty is to their constituents, not the party line. They can express contrary views. Sue Moen gave me an excellent example of this during our interview yesterday, when she disagreed with her party’s position on fish farms.
Can The Upstart Greens Win?
Can the “upstart” Greens gain enough momentum to win? After their surprising losses in both the 2013 provincial and last federal elections, the NDP must be feeling a sense of déjà vu. They are slipping in the polls and half of the respondents choosing NDP (49%) said the Greens were their second choice. What will happen now that the Greens are becoming a serious contender? Then there is the 23% who are still undecided?
Are the Greens “splitting the vote?” Actually, they appear to be coming up the middle. They took 3% from the NDP and 3% from the right (BC Liberals and BC Conservatives).
In response to this new threat, the Liberals can be expected to tout their supposedly stellar fiscal record.
This is pure spin. British Columbia’s debt has doubled since they took power in 2001, from $33.8-billion to $66.57 billion today. Most of this increase occurred during Christy Clark’s watch2 and we have little to show for it except her LNG pipe dreams.
The debt also doubled during the NDP’s decade (1991-2001), but the numbers are much smaller. They added about $17 billion.
The Greens are calling for more fiscal responsibility.
Maybe it is time for a change.