Rafe: NDP’s Horgan too quick to dismiss Leap Manifesto

BCNDP Leader John Horgan touring Metro Van Pipes in 2014 (BCNDP/Flickr cc licence)
BCNDP Leader John Horgan touring Lynnterm docks in 2014 (BCNDP/Flickr cc licence)

I  have a question or two for NDP leader John Horgan, given recent developments.

Let me be clear: I have no animosity towards Mr. Horgan – we only met once and just by accident. At that time, several years ago, Mr. Horgan stated that he favoured LNG because “the NDP couldn’t be against everything”. This illogical nonsense guides him still.

Still searching

I’m doing as many British Columbians are doing – looking for someone to support in 2017.

I certainly can’t vote for the incompetent, destructive, featherbrain in power; I thought I had a home with the Greens until I learned that their leader supports the Liberals’ IPPs policy, which destroys rivers and is bankrupting BC Hydro, so I had reconciled myself to the notion that this old Socred could vote NDP…but they lost me by uncritically supporting LNG and by the obvious political naiveté of its leader.

Mr. Horgan, how could you get this far and not understand basic politics?

Christy Clark stated, not long ago, that she represents the majority of British Columbians, or words to that effect. The incredible fact is that she does Mr. Horgan, but that’s not because of her, it’s because of you, sir.

Christy Clark, up against a reasonably presentable fence-post with hair, wouldn’t have a chance but you’ve managed to split your supporters and so alienate the great number of people who would have supported you to avoid the Liberals, that you and your party will probably lose to this quintessence of incompetence.

Kow-towing to unions

John Horgan meets Rob Ashton of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at Lynnterm docks in North Vancouver (BCNDP/flickr cc licence)
John Horgan meets Rob Ashton of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at Lynnterm docks in North Vancouver (BCNDP/flickr cc licence)

Any winning leader must keep his supporters onside while not alienating too many “floaters” who have no party allegiance. This is fundamental – Axiom I for every party. Your party should have learned that from the many decades the old Socreds thrashed you regularly.

But you’ve scared the hell out of people. While it’s expected that an NDP leader will be concerned about labour unions, when he becomes so obsequious as to all but genuflect in public and before a union leader to apologize for changing party policy without his consent, it’s just too much, even, I suggest, for many members of unions.

Why not take the leap?

What I would really like to ask you today, Mr. Horgan, is why you have not seen the obvious way out of your difficulty – the Leap Manifesto?

Typical of the NDP, they cosseted the far left with the word “Manifesto” pissing off a lot of people they didn’t need to. But that’s minor. I’ve read the document with care – have you? It offers a reasonable blueprint for getting us all out of the difficulty posed by the coming demise of the fossil fuel industry.

But you would have no part of it, saying:

[quote]It’s a document that I don’t embrace personally. There are elements in the document that make sense and there are elements that make no sense for British Columbia. So we won’t proceed under any kind of manifesto in the next 12 months under my leadership.[/quote]

Can you not be more specific? Of course parts will annoy unions dependant on the fossil fuel industry but it’s just a discussion document and if you were to encourage the widest possible debate, it could turn out to be a brilliant political maneuver. Yes, you’d  have a harder time from some disgruntled supporters but you’d get support outside the party and the party generally would come along because they want to win and they’ve  nowhere else to go.

Moreover, have you considered how much the public think of Naomi Klein, and indeed the Lewis family? And David Suzuki?  More than they do of you, Mr Horgan. Is it good politics to stand against them just to stay in favour with one or two union leaders?

Bucking history

Here are the parts that I presume are the sticking points which make you say this document is not appropriate for British Columbia, being a resource-based province:

[quote]Shifting swiftly away from fossil fuels so that Canada gets 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources within 20 years and is entirely weaned off fossil fuels by 2050.

No new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources, including pipelines.[/quote]

Here’s where your opposition is fatal. It’s a year before the election and opposition to fossil rules won’t lessen. More scientific evidence will likely be adverse. And this puts you and those of the NDP who support you out of sync with history. No politician can buck history for long and survive.

Can you not comprehend that the world is against you on this, including a great many traditional supporters of the New Democratic Party? If you had political savvy and vision, you would support Leap and work with union leaders and, indeed, with community leaders generally. The Leap Manifesto proposes that we wean ourselves off fossil fuels and ease the hardship that will impose on the many employed by the industry. What could be wrong with that, especially if it was a non-partisan, community effort?

No one expects that we’ll be off fossil fuels tomorrow afternoon, Mr.Horgan – the object is to avoid wasting time making adjustments, thus making matters worse. People expect that leaders will take us down that path in reasonably expeditious fashion, while making the changes as smooth as humanly possible for those impacted by them.

No point pretending

There is no point in pretending that the move away from fossil fuels isn’t going to happen and happen pretty quickly. The leader, the statesman, recognizes that the best policy is to control events and not be controlled by them while the demagogue tries to avoid reality for short-term advantage.

The most important consideration of all, Mr. Horgan, is that bringing united public support for a commitment to as quick an end to our reliance on fossil fuels, while caring for those hurt by the inevitable, dramatic changes, is the right thing to do.

BC's gift to the world- Premier Christy Clark
Premier Christy Clark at a government-hosted LNG conference (Flickr CC Licence / BC Govt)

It’s astonishing that the NDP will likely appeal less to the average voter than will premier Clark, considering her breathtaking incompetence, the massive debts that she’s run up, the bankrupting of BC Hydro, the destruction of our rivers, the wreckage and folly that is Site C, not to mention the embarrassment she’s brought herself and us over LNG.

You’ve abandoned the high ground of saving the environment, leading the province carefully and thoughtfully through the perils but likely have given the polluters the chance to escape unscathed and another four years to make it infinitely worse, while driving us deeper and deeper in debt.

Not your fault Mr. Horgan?

Then just whose fault is it, pray tell?


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 rafeonline.com.

10 thoughts on “Rafe: NDP’s Horgan too quick to dismiss Leap Manifesto

  1. I can’t figure out who could possibly write the tripe called the Leap Manifesto, let alone put their name on it. Mostly the positions that people take are mostly controlled by their “lean”. Anything left, not being mine. I can overlook some of the stumblings offered up by Clark and her cronies simply by being pragmatic and look at the alternative. NDP, not a chance in hell, Liberal other than the BC variety, not a chance in hell. Can anyone look east of the Rockies and honestly say what is happening in the major jurisdictions is OK. Trudeau? Not a chance in hell. And Ontario, now there is a province that has totally gone to hell, thanks to the left. Wynne, not a chance in hell.

  2. Someone should suggest to the N.D.P. leader not to say anything. Just nod & smile. The last N.D.P. leader was in Kamloops during the last provincial election and talked about being against pipelines. That one sentence helped to lead to the N.D.P. to a loss. Dave Barrett several decades ago was in a neck & neck battle with Bill Bennett in another election & talked about putting a tax on dividends from stocks & bonds. That shot in the foot cost the N.D.P. that election.
    Maybe someone should tell the N.D.P. leader just smile & nod, smile & nod.

  3. Horgan is on the right track:
    “Rising carbon dioxide is making the Earth GREENER: Extra plant growth caused by greenhouse gases could cover the USA twice

    Scientists used satellite data over the past 33 years to measure leaf cover
    Planet has got greener as plants have flourished in rising carbon dioxide
    Additional plant growth is equivalent to covering the US twice in greenery
    Rising carbon dioxide is responsible for 70 per cent of the extra greening ”


  4. I wrote this in both sorrow and anger – sorrow because the public deserves at least one decent option, anger because the NDP as a party has moved so far from the class warfare attitude and language that turned people off for so long, that decently led it deserve a chance. So do we.
    I frankly don’t know what Horgan’s problem is because most people who want to see the back of the Liberals see what has to be done. No one, including me, is asking him to abandon principles just ancient rhetoric and uncritical loyalty to those who’ll give him money if he toes their line. I also believe I’m right that he doesn’t understand the role of the Opposition in a parliamentary system and that his uncritical support of LNG has hurt the NDP badly and the campaign hasn’t even started.
    Could it be that such a highly intelligent person just can’t accept the loss of face that he senses will come if he admits the very human characteristic – error? Is he really prepared to let his party down and much more importantly let the public down because he can tolerate the loss of an election better that loss of face? Must we have no option to this hopelessly incompetent unto evil government because of one man’s pride? Don’t his colleagues see what the public sees? Would they rather lose yet another election to Clark & Co than face their political responsibilities?

  5. Hi Raif,
    Great point about Horgan not being specific to why and how the BC NDP support the Leap, and how they don’t. The details count on this.
    My opinion, on this issue the BC NDP should message that they are not about accepting manifestos to guide the party and get specific on what they like in the Leap and what the party thinks won’t work in BC at this point in time. If done well, they can also use a position on the Leap to pull some rank and file into line.
    I didn’t think Horgan was such a lightweight because I thought he’d been a solid MLA. Maybe I was wrong.

  6. I truly believe that all politicians lie, pretend and deceive.

    Although nobody does it better than christy clark as she has taken it to a level that has her actually believing that all of her lying, pretense and deceptions are anything but and this self-deception is the most dangerous politician of all.

    As dangerous as he was harper knew his lies, pretenses and deception were pure bullshit and he ultimately choked on them and paid the price but clark is such a consummate actor that she actually believes her idiocy and many, if not most, of her party are infected with the same delusions.

    John had better snap out of his bewildering slumber soon and wake up to reality before it’s too late to stop her madness.

  7. I don’t play cards, don’t gamble, so , until now, didn’t understand what was meant by ” a stacked deck”. Now I see stacked decks both federally and provincially, and the Phillistines will get a pipeline one way or the other, then tell us it’s what we said we wanted, and some will even believe that bullshyte.
    I wish Alexandra Morton or Naomi Klein or Jessica Ernst or … similar… would run for Premier, we’d have half a chance of unstacking the deck. I feel like a political orphan. Can’t vote green because IPP is a sinful waste of our rivers and fish, can’t and won’t support the cabal which calls itself Liberal, would rather drink Drano than vote for the Cons, and the NDP has become some kind of dithering fumble.
    And le Dauphin seems to be busy collecting air miles as he flits from one photo op to the next.
    “Curiouser and Curiouser, said Alice”………

  8. I don’t care if a fence post with hair was running against her: I wouldn’t vote Christy Clark. Her scale of incompetence and destruction is just too much for any of us. Rafe has made a big blunder, yes. But Clark: NO.

  9. Sadly the Vancouver Island NDP cannot even take a position on a Victoria sewage waste treatment facility…….sad.

  10. The ball is in John’s court. I hope he sees the light. Many are counting on him. Four more with Clark is simply wrong. We’ve seen what she can do. She can’t.

Comments are closed.