For a fragile minority government that could lose power if next spring’s budget votes coincide with a bad flu season, the John Horgan “GreeNDP” folks certainly have a sweeping vision for your future.
Horgan and B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver rolled up in an electric Kia Soul the other day to announce that British Columbia will allow only zero-emission vehicle sales for its union-made roads – starting in 2040.
This proclamation came before General Motors used electric drivetrains as a pretext to rationalize its aging North American auto assembly operations by closing five plants. Perhaps our co-premiers will summon GM executives to set up a Volt plant here in carbon-free B.C. by, say, 2030?
The zero-emission car announcement was one of several events that didn’t get much attention, what with the Victoria cops visiting the legislature to perp-walk two senior administrators out, without a hint of a charge.
In October we had an announcement about B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, which isn’t done yet. The legislation won’t be released until February. What we got were bold targets, a 25 per cent reduction in poverty within five years, 50 per cent for child poverty.
At least Ottawa has finally figured out how to define the “poverty line,” after many years of public sector unions distorting cost-of-living statistics to paint B.C. in particular as a Third World hellhole.
The Justin Trudeau government needed a definition for its own Poverty Reduction Act, unveiled to national media fanfare in November. It’s nowhere near done. So far it’s mostly targets, 20 per cent below 2015 levels by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030.
You may notice that poverty targets sound like the last two decades of greenhouse gas targets, which have an unbroken record of failure not only in B.C. and Canada, but around the world.
And yes, the GreeNDP have new climate targets. They accepted that the bad old government’s 2020 target won’t be met, and they have a new one for 2030. I’ll spare you the numbers, but it’s big, it’s bold and it’s off in the future. A new LNG-friendly B.C. Climate Action Strategy is imminent as well, or at least the announcement is.
Horgan and Weaver inherited the highest carbon tax in North America, imposed during the now-ritually invoked 16 years of B.C. Liberal neglect. Finance Minister Carole James led an “axe the gas tax” campaign in the 2009 election, but now the planet’s future depends on her devotion to “fighting” “carbon pollution” with ever-increasing taxes diverted to things like giving away electricity for cars.
Horgan’s latest proclamation, announced to hundreds of Indigenous leaders at their annual meeting with cabinet ministers in Vancouver, is that B.C. is about to be the first jurisdiction in North America to embrace the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That’s the one that guarantees “free, prior and informed consent” for any development affecting aboriginal territory, something politicians keep assuring us is not a veto.
And of course it’s nowhere near done, either in Ottawa or Victoria. Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould gave a speech to the same “all chiefs” gathering in Vancouver two years ago, explaining this UN deal can’t simply be imposed on Canadian law.
She’s a lawyer and member of the Kwagiulth people of the B.C. coast. Her father Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla (Bill Wilson) was one of the architects of aboriginal rights in Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org