B.C. ELECTION: Your Guide to the Major Parties in the 2017

Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

The Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, and Green Party are going head-to-head in this year’s provincial election, and they’re readily armed with criticisms of their competition and promises to make voters.

Contentious issues such as climate action, school funding, health care, and transit are all taking the spotlight in 2017, with the Liberals generally pulling more to the right than the flip-flopping New Democratic Party and environmentalist Green Party. Because of their extensive history in the province, both the NDP and Liberals have been thoroughly critiqued thus far. Comparatively, the Greens won their first and only seat in 2013, and have never won an election in the past.

Each of the three parties has definite strengths and weaknesses. The leaders representing them are strong and experienced, but fallible. Come May 9, here’s what you’ll need to know about them.

The Liberal Party: Christy Clark

February 14, 2016 -  BC Premier Christy Clark. Photo by Dave Chan.

This year, the Liberals are focusing on tax cuts and housing for the middle class, balancing provincial budgets, investing in health care and infrastructure, technology, and tourism, and resource-based industries like natural gas, mining, and forestry. Keeping jobs and money flowing in the provincial economy is their utmost priority and, to an extent, they have achieved that goal. However, they arguably did so at the cost of shouldering off health and child care, environmentalism, and transparency in the provincial majority government.

Now, part of their 2017 platform touches on improving education and health care as well as creating safer communities across the province. Marijuana is seen largely as a health risk by the Liberals, and they have suggested that, as long as children are not legally able to use the substance, money gathered from a marijuana tax should go into health care.

Liberal Leader Christy Clark is currently the Premier of B.C.. She has become known for her efforts towards facilitating economic growth and job creation—two typically Conservative endeavours that have come to fit into the British Columbian Liberal portfolio.

Since being elected, Clark has shown her skills at balancing budgets and creating jobs for Canadians working in the energy and technology sectors. She was partially responsible for reforming B.C.’s liquor act, which helped craft beer culture boom, and for creating the foreign buyer’s tax, which has helped stabilize the housing market.

Clark, however, has been highly criticized for approving environmentally damaging projects such as the wolf cull and the Site C Dam—a hydroelectric dam being built by B.C. Hydro which has been challenged by First Nations communities, citizens, and over 200 scientists—and for organizing and benefiting from private fundraising events. She has also been accused of falling behind on the management and funding of schools and health care in the province, amongst other contentious issues that the Liberal government is responsible for.

 

The New Democratic Party: John Horganjh_portrait-orange

The NDP are making three key promises in 2017: improved services, more money, and sustainable jobs for the middle class. If elected, they plan to follow through on that oath by getting rid of Medical Services Plan fees, building 114,000 co-op homes, investing in $10 a day childcare, eliminating bridge tolls and student loan interest, giving completion grants to students, and improving rates for B.C. Hydro, ICBC, and ferries.

Like the Liberals, the NDP are concerned with marijuana legalisation leading to substance abuse by children, and feel that strict regulations must be put in place regarding cannabis use. Pharmacies and liquor stores would be good places to sell marijuana, according to the NDP.

John Horgan, MLA for Juan de Fuca and leader of the NDP, has historically fought for lower B.C. Hydro rates while continuing to make a case for moving away from the fossil fuel industry. He is also dedicated to making living costs, housing, schooling, and health care more affordable and accessible.

Unlike the Liberals, Horgan has shown commitment to keeping private donations out of politics. In fact, so far in the campaigning process he has given Clark and the B.C. Liberals no mercy, taking every opportunity to criticize them and their failures despite sharing some viewpoints and aspirations with the party.

In the B.C. Election Debate, Horgan and Clark openly bickered over their differences on climate action, prioritization of the lower and middle class, and economic strategies. Horgan says he would rather see money allocated to the LNG going towards technology, culture, transit, and schooling. He has also given no sign of securing a balanced budget for British Columbia.

 

The Green Party: Andrew Weaverandrewweaver-headshot-web-green

As always, the Greens are pushing for environmental policies more than any other parties in the electoral race. Protecting natural resources and ensuring effective consultation between government and First Nations groups is crucial to their platform, as is putting a stop to environmentally damaging projects like Site C Dam.

Creating a sustainable economy while keeping the essential issues of affordable housing, education, and health care in mind is big part of their strategy, but they are also hoping to introduce some major reforms to British Columbia. If elected, they have vowed to introduce a basic income pilot project, recommend a new minimum wage, get rid of MSP premiums, and boost income and other assistance for persons with disabilities and youth transitioning out of foster care.

In regards to democratic reform, the Greens want to have a proportional voting system in place by 2021, hire a Provincial Budget Officer, ban partisan fundraising for members of Cabinet, and prohibit lobbying for Senior Public Office Holders. On marijuana distribution and legalisation, they are encouraging a distribution model like the one used for craft breweries in B.C.

Before he was a politician, Green Leader Andrew Weaver was a scientist and professor. As a scientist, he worked on scientific assessments by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He still works in science, particularly as a faculty member at the University of Victoria. Now, he’s the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, winning the Greens’ first seat in the B.C. Legislature.

Weaver is a strong advocate for investment in clean energy and technology, and has contested LNG’s and Site C consistently throughout the year. He has been involved in the community by proposing bills, taking part in public discussions, and raising his voice, particularly regarding global warming and the measures that must be put in place to counteract it. In a broader political sense, Weaver often sings the praises of honesty in politics, and vocalizes displeasure with governments breaking promises to their people.

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