How the Federal Election Reshapes BC’s Political Landscape


It’s been a few days now since our momentous federal election and I’m trying to make some sense of it from the environmentalist standpoint.
The good news is, of course, the election of Elizabeth May – even though as one lone voice in parliament she can do little in any formal sense.
She can be effective at getting her message out both in question period and “debate” if the media want her to get coverage. They will certainly cover her activities so long as she keeps matters interesting. It’s the old “dog bites man/man bites dog” rule of journalism. As long as Ms. May can give the media interesting stories, her work will be reported.
I hope that the Green Party can increase its size and influence but it would take a braver man than I to ever see them for Official Opposition, much less government. We at the Common Sense Canadian will, it goes without saying, offer time and space to Ms. May and any other political parties or candidates who pledge to preserve our environment.
It’s an interesting situation re BC’s political scenario. BC doesn’t usually mirror federal political experiences. In fact it’s often the reverse. I was involved in a provincial election where there was a national election as well. I was astonished to see lawn signs supporting me as a Socred provincially and the NDP nationally. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are famous for this sort of vote splitting.
Interestingly, there was huge joy both at Tory and NDP post-mortems. Each saw their results as voter support of their party – and it was. What will become of the Liberals is for another day.
I suspect that there was great joy in both the BC Liberal and NDP camps. The Liberals will declare that what happens nationally to the Liberals doesn’t affect them, though I must churlishly remind Premier Clark that this wasn’t her view in the campaign. The premier will no doubt see this as a great victory for capitalism – Fraser Institute variety – and be tempted to have an early election to take benefit of the BC voter’s lurch to the right.
Except that’s not what happened. The Tories popular vote was up about 2% and the NDP up about 6%. Indeed, on those results the NDP is the one that should be antsy for an election, especially if either/both the Tories and BC First parties gain some traction.
The results are, sad to say, good news for those who want more fish farms, more private power, more pipelines and more oil tanker traffic. At least on the surface, for we’ll never really know how British Columbians feel about these issues until they are issues in a provincial election.
Unless Premier Clark is that rare politician that wants citizens to be fully informed before going to the polls, she will call a snap election in hopes that British Columbians will not be fully informed on these issues.
We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the environmental catastrophes I mention are not offset by great financial gains – quite the opposite.
Fish Farm profits go mainly to Norwegian shareholders, while the private power producers send their ill-gotten gains to large out-of-province and out-of-country shareholders. The big loss is, of course, BC Hydro, which – according the Erik Andersen, an economist specializing in government finances – would, if in the private sector and unable to raise rates with impunity, be bankrupt or in bankruptcy protection.
In short, the environmental losses – much including our wild salmon – far from bringing revenue into the province cost us big time.
We at the Common Sense Canadian are concerned about a Tory majority and the possibility of it meaning Premier Clark will win a new majority. If British Columbia gives her that majority, they will be accepting the environmental outrages I mentioned above.
I don’t believe that British Columbians will buy those environmental catastrophes in a fair fight and we see it as our job to make sure it is fair.
We at the Common Sense Canadian pledge that we will have those issues on the table when the next election comes.
Thereafter, it’s BC’s choice.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

8 thoughts on “How the Federal Election Reshapes BC’s Political Landscape

  1. I just shook my head and thought, Christy, what in the hell is the use.

    Christy is going to ban pesticides from lawns and gardens. But, dumping toxic mine waste in lakes, to leach into the eco system is acceptable. Bringing a pipeline from, the dirtiest pollution site in the world, the dirty Alberta tar sands, is also acceptable? And, allowing dirty oil tankers from China, to navigate one of the most treacherous seas in the world, in our beautiful coastal waters.

    Does not the pipeline bursts in a Michigan river, and the terrible pipeline burst out of Edmonton, clang a bell in our stupid politicians heads? Those spills were a disaster, and, are impossible to clean up. All of that, poisons our clean drinking water, and will poison the wildlife, for years to come.

    I don’t give a damn, if China has to carry the dirty sludge, back to China in, individual jam cans. We don’t want that filthy crap, anywhere near our province.

    We can be damned sure, Harper’s majority, will bring oil and gas wells, to be drilled off the BC coast. Campbell and Harper were working to force that through too. Earthquakes and all. How stupid.

  2. Haper and the enviornment are not two words I like to see together because all it brings to mind is bye, bye clean enviornment.

    We have all just seen the oil spill in Alberta. Company officials didn’t seem in any great hurry to deal with it. They just pronouce it safe. I’D LIKE TO SEE THOSE GUYS MOVE THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN INTO THE AREA FOR A YEAR!

    Oil tankers will be going up and down our coast, the remifications are scaring the shit out of me. The only ones it benefits are the owners of the oil and the oil tanker owners. The rank and file citizens of this province won’t gain anything except pollution.

    If Harper’s faith included an “end of days” senario than how can he care about our enviornment.

    I don’t under stand how citizens can watch our enviornment be degraded while the profits go outside the country. You would think some one would want to save the land for our citizens who will be here in 100 yrs.

    Of course the second worst of this is, I’m agreeing with a former Socred cabinet minister and I never thought I would live that long. Just live a long life Mair, its very entertaining!

  3. After reading Wikileaks report saying, the N.A.U. is on the way, this country is in dire trouble.

    As soon as Harper won his majority, It was said this was Harper’s agenda all along. They said, there will be aqua ducts built to send our water to the U.S. I think I read some time ago, Clean water is going to become liquid gold. And, Canada’s vast resources will be plundered.

    With the North American Union of, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. We won’t be able to get rid of Harper, as long as he pleases the U.S. Harper has dragged Canada into two wars now, to please the U.S.

    The atrocities of pollution, will be forced on us, like it or not. There will be no Constitution. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken from us right now. There will be, no such thing as Democracy and Freedom. Harper has pretty much robbed the Canadian people, of our sovereign nation right now. We will be forced to live in a dictatorship.

    Everyone is doubting, Harper even won the election. There were lead pencils in the voting booths. Those votes could be easily be erased, and changed.

    The other abomination I read is, the internet will be monitored. Harper is an evil monster.

  4. What if the NDP feds could be convinced to bring May into their shadow cabinet as environment critic in exchange for confidentiality on closed caucus matters? And what if we all reminded May of her party’s commitment to electoral reform and ask her and the NDP to get together on this?

  5. Christy Clark needs to keep her options open. If she survives the coming BC election, three years from now she will face a draft for the federal Liberal leadership, won’t she?

  6. I adore Elizabeth May and what she stands for and does.

    With important exceptions, most of the rest of the Greens are for me a blank slate – much as the NDP MP elected in Quebec.

    Scotty is entirely correct and, as with Vision and COPE in Vancouver, some accommodation between the Greens and the NDP is essential.

  7. My biggest concern is that the single Green win federally will encourage more Green support in the next BC election, the unfortunate irony being that it could potentially elect a decidedly non-green government by splitting the anti-BC Liberal vote. This has certainly happened before, at both federal and provincial levels in BC.

    I don’t mean to accuse the Greens of stubbornness, boneheadedness or thoughtlessness, nor am I suggesting that Greens are really shills that covertly work to elect neo-right, environment-damaging profiteers. I’m sure the numbers are co-incidental, unintentional. But we have to recognize this if we want to prevent the Conservative’s neo-right cousins, the BC Liberals, from winning the next BC election.

    It’s not enough for the NDP to out-green the Greens (although both parties’ platforms are very similar with regard to the environment.) And it’s probably not enough to plead with voters not to split the anti-BC Liberal vote.
    The surest way to prevent that would be for both parties to come to some kind of agreement on strategic distribution of candidates that would allow the Greens to focus on their best shot at getting a seat in the assembly.
    What say ye?

  8. The major shift that I perceive is one of the Green vote for the most part shifting to the NDP in an attempt to halt Conservative seats. I did that myself and plugged my nose doing so (I had vowed never to vote NDP – and it didn’t help in Nanaimo-Alberni). And the Liberal vote vapourizing left and right.

    I am concerned with four years of Conservative rule – for a government that ignores science unless it is in line with political ideology. Suggests the real need for whistle-blower protection at all government levels.

Comments are closed.