Imagining an NDP leadership race to fill B.C.’s political void

David Eby, Point Grey MLA, announced last week that he will not be seeking the BC NDP leadership. | Photo courtesy of Legislative Assembly of BC

David Eby, Point Grey MLA, announced last week that he will not be seeking the BC NDP leadership. | Photo courtesy of Legislative Assembly of BC

The BC NDP leadership race got a little less interesting this week, with Point Grey MLA David Eby’s announcing that he would not be running for the job after all.

Eby, a fresh face in the caucus who defeated Christy Clark in her own riding, gave a very good reason for his decision: his partner is expecting their first child in September.

This leaves the NDP race without any new or particularly dynamic potential candidates. Veteran MLA Mike Farnworth, runner-up to Adrian Dix last time, is widely expected to run, and there’s talk that John Horgan will reconsider and join the race again. Horgan, in the fall, said he wouldn’t be running but there’s mounting speculation that he’ll reverse himself and seek the leadership.

Both Farnworth and Horgan are pretty establishment-friendly, non-threatening to big business in the province. Horgan, especially, is perceived as someone who would push the NDP towards more support for fossil fuel exports and pipelines; he’s been downright boostering at times on the fracking and LNG industry in the north.

Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA. | Photo courtesy of Legislative Assembly of BC

Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA. | Photo courtesy of Legislative Assembly of BC

Meanwhile, the lone Green MLA, Andrew Weaver, has upset many in his own ranks with approving comments regarding media mogul David Black’s plans to build a refinery in Kitimat – a proposal designed to make palatable the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Weaver explained his support of Black’s $25 billion proposed refinery was reluctant:

“Rail is bad news, dilbit in the water is bad news, dilbit on land over rivers and streams is potentially very bad news… Obviously as the Green Party [MLA], I’d prefer to keep it in the ground as much as possible and start to invest sooner than later into the low-carbon economy of tomorrow, but I’m pragmatic and I recognize at some point one may need to develop a compromise and a compromise solution is one that would actually give jobs in B.C.”

The mega refinery plan is no “compromise”; it would represent a betrayal and a sellout. Weaver’s comments about the refinery completely disregard the first and stronger line of opposition to the Enbridge pipeline: the Yinka-Dene alliance and other First Nations united against this mega-project crossing their territories.

All this leaves a gaping hole in the political landscape: right now no elected politician is giving expression to the widespread opposition to the full spectrum breakneck development of fossil fuel exports. Plenty of politicians are standing with the movement against Enbridge, but no one’s really articulating the bigger picture and denouncing LNG and the ramping up of coal exports. At this critical juncture for the province and the planet, this is unacceptable.

A leadership candidacy that rose to the occasion on these issues could spark a long overdue grown-up conversation in B.C. on energy, exports and the environment.

A contender with some courage and foresight could shift the whole debate and provide a real alternative vision of this province’s future.

Imagine an NDP leadership announcement that included something like this:

“Climate change is a global emergency, and it is immoral for politicians in B.C. to fiddle while the world burns. And it’s even more immoral and irresponsible to double-down on fossil fuel exports of all kinds, betting our whole economic future on an LNG boom that may never arrive and that, even if it comes to fruition, will shatter our own legally-binding carbon emission reduction targets.”

“Let’s be honest: every time we talk about LNG, let’s talk about fracking too, since the processing and export of gas is increasingly and intimately linked to this new, toxic and dangerous method of extraction.”

“We need to stop this madness now, and join the worldwide movement to deal with climate change and urgently phase out oil and gas and other fossil fuels. Let’s become world leaders in developing renewable energy. Let’s stop pretending the grotesquely decadent lifestyles of multi-millionaires and billionaires are sustainable on a finite planet. Let’s slash inequality now, and tax the rich to eliminate child poverty and fund an expansion of accessible post-secondary education focused among other things on the basic sciences needed to help develop new systems for energy and mass public transportation.”

Electoral politics alone won’t get any of this done – social movements and a new era of mass civil disobedience is required to avoid a catastrophic and unjust future. But it’s worth imagining someone or something filling the present political void.

One thought on “Imagining an NDP leadership race to fill B.C.’s political void

  1. I’m long over mourning the NDP and the CBC. I realise I never really fit on the linear spectrum of “left” and “right”, especially when someone suggested I was “so far left [I was] right”. And wild conspiracy theorist that I am, I am quite persuaded that the Green Party is simply a right-wing environmental vote-suck party, still bent on the same lines of arguments.

    I too believe that radical social movements and mass civil “disobedience” is going to be the only way forward. However I would like to put forward the concept that the only “disobedience” is that of those who hold the power at presence, who are only interested in maintaining this mad and self-interested status quo that benefits them. What will happen will be the act of justice seeking, not “civil disobedience”. There is nothing whatsoever civil about those people.

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