Will The Green Strategy Be Their Downfall?

By: Justin P. Goodrich, LL. M.

With John Horgan having been sworn-in earlier this week as British Columbia’s new Premier, the province has now officially embarked on a new chapter of its political story.

Of course, as we all know, the reason Mr. Horgan is our new Premier is because the NDP and the Green Party formed a working-alliance; something that our Westminster system of parliament allows for.  Though going in to the election there was a strong likelihood that the Green Party would secure up to four seats, I don’t believe anyone could have predicted that the votes would be so close that they would wind-up holding the balance of power.  Perhaps, even more surprising, is their choice to partner with the NDP instead of the BC Liberals.

Though one would plot the Green Party left-of-centre on the ideological spectrum, the reality is that they are actually rather moderate in many respects. Indeed, fiscally speaking, they are very conservative. Moreover – and similar to those of us who identify as right-of-centre on the ideological spectrum (i.e., progressive conservatives) – they also have strong feelings regarding various social justice issues.  To that end, the Green Party seems to want to strike a healthy economic and social balance; and because of these values, I know a great many individuals who have historically voted for the BC Liberals, but voted for the Green Party instead in this last election.

As a result of Dr. Weaver’s decision to align with the NDP instead of the BC Liberals, those same individuals who opted to vote Green last time around are now angry beyond words.  Indeed, every one of them that I spoke to said they regret their decision and would never again support the Green Party.  The question therefore becomes, will the Green strategy become their downfall?

For The Record…

One of the issues I have written about in the past is this notion of proportional representation.  I, for one, am a fan.  I think if done correctly it could allow for a healthy, robust legislature that could function well despite the fact it would almost always lead to a minority government.  Notable examples include, though are not limited to: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand and Switzerland.  Of course, there are different types of systems to consider (which is why I believe it must go to a referendum), but at the end of the day I think any one of those systems would likely result in something far more stable (and equitable) than what British Columbian’s are facing now.

Sticking with the theme of proportional representation, one of the things that I find particularly interesting is the notion that by aligning with the NDP it is very unlikely proportional representation will become a reality.  That is to say, if the NDP-Green alliance is as unstable as many believe it to be, and should we find our way to an election within the next 24 months, the issue may never make it to the people for a vote.  This, for many of the folks I spoke of earlier who voted for the Green Party instead of the BC Liberals in this last election, was such an important issue to them that they feel betrayed.  Indeed, one of the reasons they voted for the BC Green Party was the hope that they would champion proportional representation over the next four-years, thereby making it a probable reality!

Of course, there is much speculation about just how stable the government will be and whether or not proportional representation will actually make its way to the people for a vote.  By the same token, I also recognize that if Dr. Weaver had aligned with the BC Liberals there would be another segment of the green voters that would have felt betrayed because of their environmental beliefs.  Indeed, in that respect, Mr. Weaver was facing a problematic decision one-way or the other.  Thus, weighing these possible outcomes, I have opted to pose this column as a question – as I do not have a definitive answer, just speculation.

In closing, there are a few things I am excited about moving forward.  As a BC Liberal I am excited that our party will have the opportunity to go through a season of growth and change; thereby striking a healthy balance between the elements that made British Columbia the strongest economy in Canada, while also introducing some new priorities such as those outlined in the Throne Speech.  Thus, though it would have been ideal to form government, I for one also welcome the opportunity ahead of us as a party!

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