B.C. ELECTION: John Horgan and the Leap Manifesto

Horgan lashed by competition after supporting the environmental document
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

Naomi Klein -- GSAPP (2)

A founder of the Leap Manifesto, Naomi Klein, appears at Drain: Planning for Climate Change in 2014. (Columbia GSAPP/Flickr)

The Leap Manifesto has been rustling Canadian feathers ever since it was made public in 2015.

The document calls for an intense—some say impossible—plan for halting global warming and reverting to community-based economies, eliminating free trade, the fossil fuel industry, and the pollution that they create. If executed properly, meeting the demands of the Manifesto would surely put us on the right track in terms of environmentalism, saving our tails as well as those of creatures all around the world.

Whether or not the Manifesto ever could be properly executed has been hotly debated by some of the most intelligent folks around the country, and now, John Horgan is being forced to give his two cents.

“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,” he said to reporters at the Legislature in April.

By saying so, Horgan infuriated environmentalists. By giving the document any positive recognition at all, he infuriates economists and invites his competition to slander him. The federal NDP’s support of the Leap Manifesto has been used as ammunition, particularly by the Liberals. Unsurprisingly, they have veiled the document as a threat to job creation and economic prosperity. Meanwhile the federal NDP has officially endorsed the Manifesto, although not without a fair amount of bickering.

When it comes down to the facts, Horgan wasn’t involved in the federal decision to back the Manifesto and all that it entails. He has personally acknowledged that he has never tried to introduce the Manifesto into his political platform and, supposedly, never will.

It seems that the fuss made over the provincial NDP’s support or lack of support for the Leap Manifesto is no more than another dirty political trick. Surely the Manifesto is radical. The entire basis of capitalism in North America would have to crumble to make room for its recommendations, and the Liberal Party is likely right about job losses in some sectors, particularly those pertaining to the fossil fuel industry.

However, the B.C. NDP is fighting back against liquified natural gas projects. They’ve shown relative discontent in response to Site C, and are generally moving more towards a greener political platform.

It shouldn’t be used as an insult that a politician would be willing to encourage the fundamental meaning behind the Leap Manifesto. If you forget about the recoverable loss of jobs and focus on the implications behind its mandate, the document is striving for a healthier and less destructive existence for Canadians.

British Columbians would not be who they are without the lush forests, expansive bodies of water, and beautiful wildlife that fill the province, and neither would their economy. The majority of us are fortunate enough to have clean water to use and air to breathe, but that may not be the case forever if nothing is done to prevent climate change from worsening. The Leap Manifesto creators know that, and they are calling for action, however extreme.

This election comes at a time when the NDP is in desperate need of a firmer identity. Horgan has swayed a bit further left at times, and right at others, and has been criticized by Clark and Weaver for his apparent inability to pick a side.

They’re not wrong. How can the NDP speak out against the LNG, and then viciously deny any support of the Leap Manifesto? It doesn’t help unify their image, nor does it fortify the already limp reputation the party is struggling to shed.

Horgan and his party need to make a solid decision on where they stand with climate change. If the Manifesto is too radical to even be partially supported by them, we as voters need to consider how seriously they are taking their promises for environmental action.

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