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BC: Liberals ousted, pressure the NDP

Bradley Hughes

July 14, 2017

It’s been a long wait, but 51 days after the BC election, the NDP is in and the Liberals are out. Former Premier Clark, let’s say that again, shall we? Former Premier Christy Clark tried everything she could do to hang on to power after winning the most seats in the election, but still less than the combination of the NDP’s 41 and the Greens’ three seats.

Liberals failed to cling to power

Outgoing Premier Clark ignored the agreement signed by the NDP and the Greens, appointed a cabinet and opened the legislature with a speech from the Throne. In an astonishing death bed conversion, BC’s penultimate Premier promised to fund the lower mainland Mayor’s Transportation Plan, dropping her requirement for a referendum, on top of this adding in vast increases in light rail across Vancouver Island, up north to Squamish and east out to Chilliwack.

Onetime Premier Clark also promised $1 billion for childcare, removing MSP premiums, banning corporate and union donations to parties, to increase social assistance rates by $100 a month, and on and on. This was summed up by Liberal MLA Laurie Throness speaking in the legislature on the final day of the BC government: the throne speech “borrowed about 30 elements from the platforms of the other two parties. “ Our previous Premier concluded her defence of her throne speech by saying, “If this results in an election, then we will put forward our throne speech to the people of the province.”

After the debate on the throne speech, a motion amended to include non-confidence in the government was passed. Our recent premier was forced to go the Lieutenant Governor. Their meeting was not public, but afterwards NDP leader John Horgan was asked to form government.


The NDP has promised many good things: $15/hour minimum wage, $10/day childcare, an end to the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline, more money for transit, money to create affordable housing, and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls-to-action and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision.

Their support for Indigenous rights is partially undermined by their refusal to halt construction of the Site C dam on the lands of the Treaty 8 First Nations. Instead they are promising to continue construction on the Site C dam while it is sent to the BC Utilities Commission. There is a real risk that the conclusions of the BC Utilities Commission could be that construction has proceeded so far that it is too expensive to halt.

One of the conditions of the agreement with the Greens was that instead of raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, they will “Immediately establish an at-arm’s-length Fair Wages Commission that will be tasked with establishing a pathway to a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour and overseeing regular rate reviews.” This is completely unnecessary. The reasons for raising the minimum wage to $15/hr immediately are well understood and the pathway is obvious: introduce legislation. Establishing a commission can only be a tactic to delay the needed increase. Every month of delay in raising the minimum wage to $15 will cost the poorest workers in BC $600.


The victory of the NDP is reason to celebrate, and the chance to saying good bye to our old Premier hasn’t come a minute too soon. However, there will be tremendous pressure on the NDP to back down from their election promises from the business community and their media outlets. And we know from our experience in BC in the 90’s the NDP will succumb to this pressure, with wage freezes, funding freezes and so on.

Despite our last Premier’s sudden conversion to some progressive politics, the Liberals role from here on out will be boisterous opposition to anything that benefits workers or the environment. As they have done in the past, the Greens will often side with the Liberals. The only way to make sure that the NDP promises are implemented and improved on, is to organize in our workplaces, our schools and our communities.

We need to demand an immediate increase to a $15/hour minimum wage, and immediate halt to construction on the Site C Dam, and an immediate start on construction of affordable housing.

Oh, and to our recent Premier: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

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