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BCNDP Leader John Horgan (Flickr/BC NDP) and Premier Christy Clark (Flickr/Province of BC)

It’s not easy to write an article on politics in the quiet backwater of British Columbia in light of the tragedy in Quebec. I’m going to make this, then, a doubleheader. 

This past weekend, the initial story, of course, was all President Trump as he found new ways to prod anti-Muslims by pretending to be concerned about national security. At the same time, there was a story out of Austria that they plan to ban the niqab. To say that there is no connection between those and similar stories and the tragedy in Quebec is to be blindly naïve. This is not, of course, to say that Trump or the Austrian government are directly responsible for Sunday’s dead and wounded but it is to say that when leaders talk the same language as the bigot, it encourages the imbalanced, for whom very little encouragement is needed.

None of our business

What I find extraordinary is that anyone can get all worked up about what somebody wears on their face or anywhere else for that matter. There’s no outbreak of violence or bank robberies committed by women in niqabs. Muslim women wear it because that’s their religion and surely they’re entitled to their beliefs. It’s none of our business that we don’t care for some of the customs of Islam – if Muslims have problems with their religion then it’s for them to do something about it. Those who cry out against women would do better to take on the Catholic church, yet, during the long centuries Christianity has discriminated against women. there’s been no attempt I know of by Muslims to break into Catholic churches and insist upon women becoming priests.

There is one axiom which I’ve learned after many painful experiences, namely – it’s a pretty good idea in life to mind your own damn business.

BC Liberals taking heavy fire early on

Onto BC politics. There are three months and a bit to go before the election and no doubt there will be considerably more activity as time goes on than there is now. That said, there are some unusual aspects already.

I don’t ever remember a government being so hammered by so many people so hard and so soon. A lot of that, of course, is from social media, which has only recently become a force, but, aside from that, the mainstream media who have shown absolutely no ability to do their journalistic duty for the past 15 years are now coming out of their bolt holes and criticizing the government. The government must be pretty bad for that to happen.

NDP slow to take advantage

At the same time, the opposition seems to simply float. Once in a while an issue pops up but it doesn’t last long, not being a key issue on people’s minds. As I’ve said many times, John Horgan has hurt his party badly by taking LNG out of play. This should be a huge issue but won’t make the big stage unless the NDP force it. It’s such a hopeless issue for the Liberals they’re not going to raise it and Mr. Horgan approved LNG, without qualification, because he’s said, “We cannot be against everything.” This has torn a great chunk out of the NDP armoury.

Those who are anxious to see the Liberal government tossed out have no real choice but to vote NDP and it may be that Mr. Horgan’s strategy is to play possum and simply hope that the Liberals fall so hard there is no need for him to do anything except be there. That’s a very dangerous strategy, but I suspect that’s what he’s up to – unless he simply doesn’t know anything about campaigning.

Green Party not really a contender

When you reach my advanced antiquity, you’re entitled to break the rules a bit so I’m going to say that I’m sad that the Green party is not, at least so far, much of a contender. My sympathies are certainly Green and I’m not nearly as troubled as I once was by the notion that they are a one-trick pony. Having seen, in the last 20 years, the two other experienced parties with their hands on the tiller, I can’t see much to be worried about if the Greens took hold.

But they’re not going to take over this time and any seats taken will be a bonus and a surprise. I believe that their leader, Dr. Andrew Weaver, should have stayed in the classroom and left politics to someone who understands the “game” and is prepared to learn the unfamiliar areas.

Weaver was one of the early supporters of the Liberal’s IPP policy, which, as we now know (and had certified in no uncertain terms here recently by Norman Farrell), has been a disaster. It has ruined the rivers involved, including their fish, and has contributed mightily to BC Hydro being essentially bankrupt. We all make errors but Weaver has shown no interest in changing on this issue, even though expert opinion, including Dr. David Suzuki’s, is no longer with him.

On the other hand, he has the human frailty of being unable to risk losing face, so he continues in the belief that IPPs produce clean power – not because that’s so but because he’s unable to admit error. Because of that, he has all but destroyed the chances of the Green party to make the strides that, one year ago, seemed so possible.

A little humour – I just received an offer to go to a Green “do” and on the invitation was “Dr. Andrew Weaver, the current leader” will be there! Dr. Weaver, I’d be looking over my shoulder if I were you!

I regard the Green party in a slightly different light than others in the election because their realistic object is to build and secure a future and leave the attaining of office until better prepared to fight under this preposterous system we have. They are in the position where their greatest virtue will be patience and taking consolation from the fact that their support among people worldwide is far greater than their representatives in various legislatures suggests. What has happened is they are now part of policing governments and even sharing office and their influence is stronger by the year.

I look at the two main combatants as being pretty long in the tooth to be depended upon for anything new, innovative, and helpful – much like old journalists I suppose. That being the case, I believe that the Green party, if it plays its hand well – starting with dumping Weaver after the election – and works like hell on policy and membership, the public will find the party more and more attractive. But you can’t do that unless your leader is attractive.

And he isn’t.


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