It will be a much postponed verdict but my initial reaction to the NDP-Green deal is positive.
Whether so motivated or not, Andrew Weaver has done the right politically moral thing – contradiction in terms though that is – by agreeing to support John Horgan and the NDP. It is particularly laudable in the form of being support not coalition. His obligation is twofold – first to the public, to give them the best possible governance option and secondly to the Green Party, which is the reason he has the options in the first place.
Dealing with the latter point, that’s a bigger obligation than might first appear. The Greens are a worldwide “movement” with obligations outside BC and Canada and have ambitions for political power with reasons to believe they can, with time, succeed. The political persuasion that supports Green certainly is not compatible with the BC variety of the Liberal Party and Dr. Weaver has correctly borne that in mind. We will always suspect, with good reason, that in rejecting Ms. Clark, he turned down a pretty good personal offer.
Environment now a serious political issue
On one major point, self-serving though it may be, the Liberals don’t appear no have noticed that environmentalism is no longer the private preserve of the left. In fact, the whole notion is tied in with traditional “conservatism” back to the time of Republican Teddy Roosevelt. The first Federal Environment Minister was Liberal Len Marchand in the 70s, the first for a Province was Jim Nielsen of the Socreds in 1975. It was not until more recent times that the general public became truly alerted and alarmed. For the Liberals to have overlooked that in their early years might be understood, given their newness, bur how they could have continued that policy to the bitter end may account for that end having occurred. It was eloquent testimony to the stranglehold big money had on Ms. Clark and one can forgive all us Kinder Morgan foes taking a bit of whiskey usually beyond our means tonight!
I don’t think for a moment that Dr. Weaver’s anomalous position as a Green can go unnoticed, but sooner or later – most likely later – his position on independent power producers will have to be reconciled with the general position of most British Columbians that they are an environmental catastrophe in addition to being financial disasters, with only the old Liberal hacks profiting handsomely.
Libs can still make trouble
Overlooked in these discussions has been the fact that the Liberals will have an extremely strong opposition and it will be well motivated, if only to make their opposition skills mask their appalling government. I have been in a government with a small majority and can tell you that the opposition can make governing extremely difficult if they understand parliamentary rules and procedures. They can also make new policies all but impossible. I do not believe this government can last anything like four years and would be surprised if it went more than 18 months.
Every time a new government takes over from a government of long standing, the new bunch goes on ad nauseam about the mess they were left by their predecessors. In this case, that case is already made beyond any reasonable doubt, not by good NDP opposition but a vigilant private sector (and here’s where you act surprised, folks) who went largely unreported by the oil-stained media in constant genuflection to the government.
NDP inherit Liberal legacy of debt
Here’s part of the story. The provincial debt has, in real dollars, in 15 years of Liberal misrule in prosperous times times, doubled. In that same period, the “great Liberal money managers” all but bankrupted our great power company, BC Hydro, have left it not only without money but bound it to a $10 BILLION expense on Site C; have left ICBC on the ropes; have turned the provincial financial mainstay, natural gas, into a weird pipe dream now floating away into the great beyond, likely never ever to be seen again – called LNG. Were I a sarcastic person by nature – and heaven forfend I should ever be that – I would rejoice we have a trillion dollar Prosperity Fund, squirrelled away so skillfully it can’t be found, to tide us over until times gets better.
The chickens have come home to roost but, unfair though it is, they are no longer Farmer Christy’s responsibly. In fact, watch as these massive Liberal fuckups all become the NDP’s fault when they must be dealt with.
In short, the new Horgan government is going to be fighting for physical survival from the beginning and will be a pretty soft target for the Liberal truth-benders who, already at this writing, just a few hours after the deal was struck, are flooding the social media with gloomy predictions that businesses will be fleeing British Columbia, leaving the unemployed writhing, hungry in the streets.
We will soon see what sort of stuff Mr. Horgan is made of and my suspicion is that it is much sterner stuff than many, including myself, have projected. His principal tasks are two. First, the NDP must be much better prepared to meet the political bullshit that the Christy prevaricators will dish out starting in the first minute they’re in opposition and do so much better they did in 2001 when, contrary to the claims of new premier Campbell that the province was in a terrible fiscal mess, in fact the NDP had a left it with 1.5 BILLION cash in the bank.
The second and far more important task for Mr. Horgan will be to keep his cool. He is known to have a touch of volatility in his personality and while that sometimes serves one well in opposition, it’s very different in government where you must show coolness and firmness. The cabinet will mostly be rookies and be carefully led. I had lunch last week with a former NDP cabinet minister and agreed that the sooner a new minister learns that it’s a lot easier to run the government from the pub than the cabinet room, the better. Everyone arrives at their seat on Day One determined to cure the ills of government, only to find that it’s not quite that easy, as the government faces the reality of trying to make two dollars do the work of one.
It’s normal to close dissertations such as this with a pat on the back to the outgoing government, with words of bonhomie dripping from the lips. As someone who has, in Lyndon Johnson’s little aphorism, been inside the tent peeing out, and outside the tent peeing in, plus the passage of a lot of time, I tend to overlook these flattering obsequies, so my valedictory remarks can be summed up in two words: Good riddance.