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Archive for January 12th, 2008

We need a coalition

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There is a very depressing article by Vaughan Palmer in today’s Sun. It is inspried by the latest poll data from Ipsos Reid.

“Voter preferences unchanged from December 2006. B.C. Liberals 45 per cent (unchanged), ahead of NDP 35 per cent (down one point), and Greens 16 per cent (unchanged.)”

What that means is despite a pretty dismal performance as a government – and even with the prospect of “railgate” finally coming to court, it looks like we are stuck with Campbell and Co for the foreseeable future. Because while the right is united the left is split.

51% is a majority. The majority of decided voters do not want a “Liberal” government in BC. But unless they get together in some kind of electoral pact, the first past the post system ensures a majority for business as usual.

“Liberal” is simply a convenient label that allows a motley collection of right wingers to hang together. There are in fact quite wide differences of opinion between libertarians, hard line conservatives, old SoCreds and new opportunists. But electorally they keep those differences out of sight (mostly) in the interests of gaining and keeping power.

The Greens have all the good arguments, but they are seen to be unrealistic idealists. The NDP is simply seen as anti-business, pro-union, even though most union members these days work in the public sector, and a lot of union activity has to go into propping up declining industries like forest products.

What needs to happen before the next election – and at least we now now know for certain when that is going to be which makes planning easier – the NDP and the Green Party have to come together – and Green voters in key constituencies need to be persuaded that the NDP will be a real green alternative. Simply because the NDP has twice the vote of the Greens. But we also have the prisoners’ dilemma here. They must co-operate, or both lose again.  Politics, as R A Butler observed, is the “art of the possible”. In other words, while ideals are nice to have they indicate general direction not an absolute goal. It could be called the ABC party – “anyone but Campbell.” Except it is not just about personalities – however odious they may be.

BC needs a government that will deal with the issues that affect everyone, and says that piling up surpluses when people are not adequately housed and are being fed by charity is not good government. That recognises we face a huge environmental crisis and the time for effective action is now – even if it might be too late, we can no longer just posture and set targets for GHG reductions, we actually have to achieve them. That while the Lower Mainland may be insulated from the US recession, the rest of the province isn’t. That a real economic strategy, based on long term sustainability, is essential – and must be widely understood and supported, not just a sound bite.

This year, I want to see meetings take place between the NDP and the Green Party to agree who will run where – so that that there is no longer a three way split in the votes to ensure the Liberals get re-elected. This has to happen – and must start soon. But there is a bit more than a year to make it work. It means the NDP has to get behind the green agenda. It means the Greens have to accept that they will never be a majority, and that power is worth having, not just  a few seats on the opposition benches, and that right now they have zero MLAs so any number is better than what they have now. Because political power means you can make changes. Protest all you want, but it doesn’t change anything. And BC needs to change and change radically and quickly. And the electorate deserves a real choice, not another opinion poll but an election that gets them a different kind of government. The NDP also needs credibility. The shadow of Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh stretches a long way. While there are a lot of new voters, the right wing media will keep dredging up the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the last NDP government – and that seems to weigh more heavily with the voters than the dismal record of the Liberals who still get the credit for being in power in better economic times.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 12, 2008 at 11:32 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with

Hans Monderman

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An obituary to this revolutionary traffic engineer appeared on Streetsblog yesterday.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 12, 2008 at 10:13 am

Posted in Traffic