It’s May 10, 2017 as I write this, an appropriate date to examine the election, being the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940 and the day Winston Churchill came to the rescue. Like then, much of the information during the campaign was questionable and virtually all of the mainstream media suppositions by a lamentable herd of trained seals unable to report intelligibly or intelligently. The stage was set by 16 years of kissing the backside of the provincial government, the print media distinguishing itself by managing to avoid the number one story of the times – their own newspapers’ deal with the oil industry ensuring that the latter always looked good in the newspapers and governments that wanted good press would be kind to the fossil fuel industry.
How annoying it was to hear the Global gabbers pontificate that when one party, with 100 votes cast, had 46% and the other 44%, thus the former had a “two point lead” – a piddling, meaningless statement. They used the same method with 5000 votes cast where that 2% was a substantial and perhaps final margin. In baseball, it’s percentages of hits per at bat; in politics it’s the number of hits that count. One might have expected the political pundits might have picked that up somewhere along the way.
Clark’s true economic record should have been downfall
There can be no doubt that all three parties lost one way or another. The Clark Liberals, with enough money to launch a small country, couldn’t buy a majority. The NDP, with the manifest sins of the Liberals to work with, couldn’t get a majority. The Green party with an electorate in the mood for environmental reform, managed three seats, all on friendly Vancouver Island.
That the Liberals sort of won had far less to do with their good record than the gentleness of Mr. Horgan on issues he wasn’t comfortable with, like money. That analysis runs contrary to what the media has said which is strong, if not irrefutable evidence that I’m bang on.
If I may be so bold – and this is my blog after all – I warned Horgan a couple of years ago that he was letting the Liberals off the hook in the very area they claimed a monopoly on wisdom, handling our money. Their constant fallback position was that the NDP always wantonly run up public debt and drive away business. This allegation doesn’t stand up to a moment’s scrutiny, so why did it prevail in the election?
The answer is that the issue has the NDP spooked. It’s been repeated so often they believe it themselves!
The list of Liberal fiscal shortcomings is lengthy but I would have thought that doubling the provincial debt in 16 years and essentially bankrupting BC Hydro in the bargain would have been enough. Liberal construction overruns alone make Glen Clark’s “fast ferry fiasco” look picayune by comparison; add Site C, the issue that dare not speak its name, and it’s a wonderment that the Liberals got any votes at all. In short, what the Liberals got was that which Mr. Horgan could have got had he campaigned on issues and not spent time showing what a sweet guy he really is, despite nasty Liberal rumours about a nasty disposition.
NDP dropped the ball on LNG
Harken back for a moment to the LNG issue, which is where Horgan went politically bonkers. In politics, you simply do not take an issue completely out of play in order to look like a candidate for political sainthood. LNG was an immense and highly embarrassing failure for Clark so why did Mr. Horgan not beat up the Liberals on that point?
“Why”, he said, “we can’t be against everything”. Any politician with the faintest idea of what he was doing would have said “we’re in favour of development of our natural resources consistent with sound environmental practices and evidence that each development is in the best interests of the public of British Columbia”.
If he had done that he could have won my riding for one. Moreover, it would’ve left it open to him to raise hell about massive expenses of the Liberal government in chasing this ever-disappearing will-o-the wisp, guaranteed by Christy, no less, which would make us rich and relieve us forever from all debt. He could then have shown Christy Clark to be a legitimate object of ridicule – and ridicule is one thing a politician cannot survive. Horgan and his party couldn’t employ this massive weapon because, of course, he could hardly attack Clark’s bumptious bullshit about something he and his party supported!
How the Greens lost too
The Greens lost in a rather different sense of the word. They were in a province which has become more alive environmentally in the last 10 years than anywhere else in Canada. Not only was there the LNG plant in Squamish but the huge issue of Kinder Morgan and related undertakings. And in this atmosphere they took three seats, all on Vancouver Island, the Green “stronghold”, and none even close to where many of the environmental desecrations are planned.
I have no doubt that had the Greens been able to whisk Elizabeth May away from Ottawa, they would not only have done better, they would have been serious contenders throughout the province.
The elephant in the room
When all’s said and done, the Liberals “won” because there were so many minor issues to divert attention from massive Liberal mismanagement, a diversion not achieved by Liberal cleverness but NDP cowardice, arising from their willingness to believe that their dealings with fiscal matters would be laughed at by voters conditioned to believe implicitly in NDP fiscal incompetence.
In addition, there was the lazy excuse that the public simply doesn’t understand big figures and colossal losses.
That may be partly so – but only partly. Had Mr. Horgan hammered at the absolute falsehood that the Liberals had actually balanced the budget, had he translated the tragedy of BC Hydro into huge rate increases, and had he expressed the doubling of the provincial debt in terms of higher taxes and diminished social services, spiced with that extraordinary YouTube presentation of Christy congratulating her parents for leaving their children no debt and promising the same fiscal rectitude for BC, then I have no doubt the public would have understood fully.
With the exception of independent papers, the media was appalling at presenting issues with coherent analysis. To think that the Campbell energy policy which ruined so many rivers and set BC Hydro on a path to bankruptcy went unmentioned in the mainstream media from its launch in 2003 until now, speaks volumes for the decline of that once-honourable profession.
Where do we go from here?
As to what will happen now, I have no more idea than anyone else except that I can say what should not happen. The Green party would be mad to unite with the Liberals, just as a suitable way for them to reward Dr. Weaver with a cabinet post for his all his political kindness to them. It’s to the left not right Greens must look if they are going to gather public support.
The Green party have a glorious opportunity to expand both in terms of numbers and appeal to thinking British Colombia if they avoid the future machinations of the BC Liberal party. It would make a great deal more sense if they were to support, short of a coalition, a minority NDP government, should that prove numerically possible.
I close with this observation – you might consider that any one of the three leaders was successful but that’s only because you’re comparing them to two losers. In their respective fields, they each failed by substantial underachievement, least so Weaver, who now must demonstrate that the Green Party can successfully move onto the Mainland and to other regions and his next move will tell.
I hope they can – and do.