Rafe: BC Green candidate Lia Versaevel brings a lot to the table
This coming election, May 9, is the most unsatisfactory one I can remember since, perhaps, 1952, when the old Coalition broke up. Most people I talk to throw up their hands, saying such a terrible choice – a corrupt, cheating, lying, government and an opposition that hasn’t shown any leadership at all and gives no confidence they’ll be any better the last NDP bunch.
I tend to agree.
At first, I wasn’t going to do any election interviews, mainly because I knew that neither leader would be much interested and I could see no advantage to the reader in hearing from most of the candidates, David Eby of the NDP being probably the one exception.
My own political persuasion is Green but I am not a member of the party and while I support Elizabeth May federally, I think that Dr. Weaver is a distinct liability to the BC party. His views on IPPs and BC Hydro, propounded by him since 2009, are so thoroughly discredited that his continuing to hold them surely disqualifies him as leader of any party that cares anything about the environment and fiscal responsibility.
But there is the future to consider. It surely is not going to always be this way but I assume, and I hope I’m right, that the present lot in government have so soiled their nest that the political vacuum in the centre, now being filled inadequately by the NDP, will leave room for the Green party to become a substantial player.
The Greens are unlike other political parties in that they truly are a “movement” rather than a natural political entity and that brings strengths and weaknesses. The strengths have never been adequately recognized by Greens themselves. As Churchill remarked in his “wilderness years”, “I may be out of office but certainly not out of power.” Thus it is with the Greens in many parts of the world as they develop slowly but steadily into a political force. They are in many countries the conscience of the nation and the ones driving the agenda because governments are afraid of what would happen to their party if the Greens attained office. Great environmental strides have been made in Europe, South America, Australia and, when you think about it, North America as well, partly by reason of the Green presence.
Gaining office is a long, slow process and Greens must recognize that if they’re ever to succeed. With that thought in mind, I looked at a CV and the usual election crap from a woman named Lia Versaevel who is seeking election in Nanaimo-North Cowichan and I was intrigued to the point I wanted an interview. I am very pleased that I did because it turned out to be quite a rewarding experience.
A little about Lia
Lia – she’ll have to forgive my familiarity with a surname like hers – is a youthful 61-year-old teacher, who has a deep and active interest in community affairs. It quickly caught my attention that her central concern is the Salish Sea and, in particular, the fish that are there, but, more importantly, the ones that are meant to be there. What struck me is that she had a specific and very important social and commercial interest to get all “green” about. Coming from Calgary in fairly recent years, this has to be something that catches one’s notice.
I also saw that Lia had been very active in the Lions Club, which itself did not interest me very much except that she rose to be a Regional Director in what has always been seen as a business men’s club, with the little woman sort of a casual appendage for show. Obviously, for Lia, that sort of role won’t suffice.
She may, however, have a great deal to learn about how the political system is only a system for the premier, not the rest of the House and all of the things that I have written about extensively in recent years. I must say, however that she shows all the signs of being a very fast study indeed and when I went over some of the examples of dictatorship from the top she nodded her head and began to think of examples herself. I was satisfied she sensed a serious wrong even if she had not thought it all through yet herself.
In reporting to you, I felt it important that I could say that she was not likely to just be another fence-post with hair, as all backbenchers turn out to be if they want to survive and be promoted.
I see in Lia the kind of person that a political party must have as a builder if it is going to occupy a position of power in the legislature, not just warm a seat in the chamber.
Greens face tough challenges
I personally think there is a very strong Green element in British Columbia which wants to help the Greens but is cautious, to say the least, in supporting their political party.
After the last federal election, I have no doubt that had Elizabeth May come to BC and led the party here, they would be competitive in the May 9 election. She chose not to and the local party is left with Dr. Weaver, who remains an unrepentant supporter of IPPs without concern for the damage they do or the monetary wreckage they have visited on BC Hydro. If he is a “Green”, he needs a new paint job.
In talking to Lia, I could see that she and Weaver are on a collision course, even though she didn’t completely realize it at the time. Unless I completely misjudge her – that’s happened before – she will not support the IPPs but may be reluctant to have a collision with Weaver in her first year, yet will not support this policy under any circumstances.
Regardless of how the election turns out, I believe that the government elected will need a strong Green element in the legislature and that Lia would be just such a force even on her own, although God knows it’s enough to try to make a difference in a small group, much less by yourself. People have done that though, including the federal leader of the Greens, Elizabeth May. She’s an outstanding person, of course, but she also has a movement that has a much broader appeal amongst the people than the votes indicate, which is more a criticism of the system than of Ms. May or the party.
I don’t say that Lia will be another Elizabeth May but I believe she will be a standout and, most of all, able to take a punch as well as give one and be happier in a mixup than on the sidelines.
Were I a voter in Nanaimo-North Cowichan I would without hesitation cast my vote for Lia Versaevel.