Endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron

My name is Peter Kelly (he/him) and I have been a resident of Nanaimo since 1997. I’m a past president of the Nanaimo area ferry workers union, a single parent, concerned citizen and I offer my full support and endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron for the Federal NDP nomination for the seat of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

I have known Lisa for over 10 years and was an enthusiastic supporter in her campaign for school district trustee in the previous local elections and I feel that Lisa is the right kind of leadership we need today. 

Lisa’s generosity, compassion, empathy and honest talk is lacking in Ottawa and absent here today. Lisa is the right choice and I encourage all NDP members to follow me and support Lisa in her bid to become the next Member of Parliament from our region.

You can see this amazing candidate for yourself and follow for updates here: facebook.com/ElectLisaMarieBarron
Lisa’s website is here: https://www.lisamariebarron.ca/

If you are not yet a member of the NDP and would like to in order to support Lisa, please click here for an online membership application.

My2bits

Epilogue for BC Election 2020

So an NDP Premier was re-elected. That’s a first. Taking a precarious minority to a substantial majority is major news too. But nobody should be surprised by this. The NDP led a campaign that was disciplined and focused while their opposition flailed about. It turns out that the ‘steady as she goes’ narrative is what voters needed from their incumbent government.

The final results are as yet unknown, but from what’s been collected so far, the NDP won a substantial chunk of the vote from the BC Liberals and the Greens. The Greens – who keep three seats, replaced some lost vote by also grabbing a few from the BC Liberals. When its all counted, I expect the NDP to finish around 50% of the vote; the Greens off by 1-2pts and the BC Liberals will have lost up to 10pts.

The planning for the NDP for this campaign likely started the moment Andrew Wilkinson was selected leader of the BC Liberals. By his own legacy of a party insider whose record goes back to the days of Gordon Campbell winning his first term in 2001 meant that the whole BC Liberal set of terms were fair talking points of the NDP – and it was exploited well.

The fact that Andrew Wilkinson is really not a personable leader who comes across at elitist as the NDP was happy to portray him as didn’t help him at all. The BC Liberal party didn’t seem to get this and failed to sculpt a different persona – seemed ok with letting the NDP define him…which they did.

The BC Liberals campaigned on a 2001/2005 agenda. Big tax cuts and hope for the best; they didn’t even have a plan to pay for it. Well their shocking PST promise gave the NDP room to expand their campaign pledges by a modest amount compared to the $11 billion price tag of the BC Liberal/PST promise.

It was a perfect little trap – and maybe the NDP set it up this way, maybe it was by chance. But in order to jolt voters into paying attention to the BC Liberals, they had to promise something big – and in that regard, they didn’t disappoint. But it was wrong.

Their PST promise was sold as a way to help consumers in the middle/modest income brackets with some sales tax relief as incentive to shop and buy things, triggering a re-hiring and more production – as the theory goes. But that’s not the practice. Almost all the things needed as essentials by middle and modest income folks were sales tax exempt to begin with; this sales tax stunt would have been a tax win for those purchasing larger ticket items, not essential. So when the NDP came out with their $1000 cash payment to families, the BC Liberals were made to seem like reckless spenders.

It stuck.

Every party has so-called ‘bozo eruptions’. That is to say, candidates who say or do something stupid that causes embarrassment to their party and knocks them off message for a day. Well the BC Liberals had several of them – and they were not insignificant. There were the transphobic candidates outed for their hostility to the community, there was a candidate recorded saying something sexually inappropriate about a female NDP MLA, there was the candidate giving a wink and a nod to the anti-vaxxer/covid19-truther “movement” (despite Andrew Wilkinson being a doctor, apparently).

Again, every party has these candidate causing problems for their central campaigns, but in the BC Liberal matters, the foot dragging by the leadership opened up serious doubts about his ability to lead his party.

For an organization trying to convince voters that its better to change government than to keep the NDP in office, the BC Liberals were failing fast.

There is the power of incumbency that the NDP had. They were the government and by all accounts, even some opponents had admitted that the Horgan government had well executed its duties as a manager of public office – and that was before covid19. For the BC Liberals to turn around and try to demonize the NDP ran against what most folks’ perception was. That was never going to be an easy sell.

To be sure, it was controversial for John Horgan to trigger an election call – one year away from the legislated calendar date. The minority government was held in place by a special agreement with the Green Party through a confidence and supply agreement; or “CASA” for short. It was a calculated risk by Horgan that he should seek a proper mandate just as a second wave of the pandemic begins to go full bloom. The thought was that the pandemic wasn’t going away any time soon and we’re no where near a vaccine.

This part of the argument for an early election call makes sense – and it was over 3.5 years into a traditional 4 year term. The part where there was justification found in the election call because of some disagreement with the Green caucus wasn’t the best argument to make, but as it turns out – both the BC Liberals and Green parties would overplay their hands and take that problem away from Horgan.

The outrage of the early election call should have occupied no more than the first 30 minutes of either the Green or BC Liberal party talking points on the first day of the campaign. Believe it or not, voters want policy too; but the opposition benches spent almost the whole campaign litigating the election call itself. Well, that ship sailed – the election was called, go campaign.

There’s evidence that the election call caught the NDP off guard too. But they adapted, filled out their candidate list and presented a platform.

But there’s one thing I reject from the Greens and BC Liberals. Sure an election might have stunned them, but I dismiss as false the idea that they were unprepared for it; because it would be political malpractice if they were.

This was a minority government. Parties do not (or should not) let their campaign machinery go dormant in the intervening time; they ought to prepare for a non-confidence vote and election call that could come at any time. Indeed, the BC Liberals made a lot of noise to this effect as it was part of their weekly fundraising call to members and supporters.

Even the Green Party who is apparently very bitter at this call and blaming the NDP for catching their party off guard was preparing for an election they pretend to not have seen coming. They managed to nominate 77 candidates in 87 seats – only 6 less than their 83 candidate list in the 2017 campaign they did see coming.

The Green Party isn’t new. Admittedly they are smaller in structure and funding than the NDP or BC Liberals, but they have a campaign and support apparatus that has existed since the 1980’s. So for an election like this to catch them so unprepared reveals a sorry internal state of the party.

I was once quite worried about the Greens and their effect on splitting the centre-left vote – and it wasn’t without merit. But as their political machinery grew and organizational depth developed, so did their arrogance and bad behavior. Their partisan supporters are no less toxic and capable of bullying than anyone else’s; and this campaign has outlined some further problems for them.

This campaign has been a four week temper tantrum by the Green Party that has impressed no-one but their ardent supporters. What’s worse is a developing elitist attitude that presumes they’re exempt from scrutiny or electoral challenge. This might come as a shock to some, but the NDP has every right to compete in a Green-incumbent seat as much as greens can challenge anyone in any seat as well. The lecturing by former federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May is over the top given her leadership brass trying to expel three leadership candidates for her party mid campaign.

how dare the NDP try to ‘steal’ our seats.

Electoral districts do not belong to a party or a candidate. People hire an MLA for the duration of a term to sit as their representative from a party or sometimes independent, but there is no rightful claim to ownership.

The Greens do not get to claim a monopoly on good ideas. The NDP has climate change ideas too; ideas that are not without merit. This arrogance of the Greens as the *only* voice of the environment that should count adds to the elitist image they’re also stuck with.

The Greens chose their issues in this campaign as LNG and SiteC, but neither of them were decisive election issues. Voters had more pressing matters.

Voters were looking for (effectively) a commander in chief and steady hand at the wheel as we navigate through difficult times and a plan to rebuild after we clear this pandemic. Neither BC Liberal or Green Party campaigns offered that plan or that hope. Voters were not looking for radical changes, and weren’t prepared to support candidates who lit their hair on fire. Even if an early election call made a few upset, it wasn’t significant enough to move the needle. It was a risky political gamble for Premier John Horgan and he proved to be correct.

But now the hard part begins. The problems that existed before the pandemic are still here. A majority government with no partners to blame when things go wrong. A term that begins as the pandemic second wave spikes hard.

I hope that in the interim, that the NDP – regardless of its majority, continues to bring opposition party leaders fully into the circle with the pandemic response. The temptation will be huge to hog a spotlight, but please don’t do it. Dr Henry has been a rock star in this pandemic and she is the expert; let her do her job.

The higher the climb, the harder the fall they say. A massive majority might be a buffer against losses in 2024, and that election seems like a lifetime away…but, knowing what I know about campaigns, the planning for that one will start tomorrow.

For my part, its been my quest that since the BC Liberal policies that attacked the mentally ill in the early 2000’s were largely responsible for my brother’s death – that I get to see them lose handily in an election.

They don’t get to almost-govern like 2017; they needed the electoral pounding that they got. Maybe now they can emerge as a coherent centre-right political party that doesn’t willfully attack the vulnerable to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Everything that I have done politically since 2004 has been to this end. Now I will take some time for me and my son.

Thank you all.

my2bits

BC Liberals threaten skilled trades. Again.

Today at the campaign event where the BC Liberals pledged to resurrect the Massey Bridge project, they also mentioned they would abolish ‘community benefit agreements’. Those are by definition a ‘project labour agreement’ that typically involved a group unions and has terms that outline apprenticeships and training for those working on major infrastructure projects.

CBA’s or PLA’s are hated by anti-union campaigners, such as the benefactors of the BC Liberal Party, and various other big business groups; and they’ve been challenged in court before…and upheld at the highest level.

PLA’s built the WAC Bennett Dam in the north and a host of other major things. They’re good as they assure labour stability throughout the life of a project, pay good wages for front line workers, and provide skilled trades training for up-and-coming trades folks looking for a career building things.

Not for the BC Liberals.

The BC version of PLA’s are the CBA’s that have unique terms that require community benefits – such as hiring more women and first nations people (and other under-represented communities) into their ranks. Learning a skilled trade that pays $45+ per hour is financial liberation for many folks who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach that far. These are high skilled, upper middle class, lots-of-tax paying, family supporting careers. Why wouldn’t we want this?

Ask the BC Liberals.

The CBA’s are the NDP’s effort to re-establish the skilled trades apprenticeship programs that were gutted by the BC Liberals in their 16 year regime of failure. To be sure, things needed to get built as well – and the BC Liberals did – but they had another angle on this. Their plan was for ‘open-shop’ anti-union operations and an unusual reliance on temporary foreign workers to do work that BC folks could have been trained for.

Because it was cheaper.

In doing so, the BC Liberals created a skills shortage in the 16 years they were in power. It wasn’t pronounced at first, but as the skilled industrial trades aged and retired out of the workforce, this cost issue flipped on them – now it became more expensive to hire these foreign workers to work, then expensive repair work after the fact…when they could have done it right the first time.

Here we are in 2020 with the BC Liberals promising a return to the old ways that cost BC so much and ruined a generation of proud skilled trades workers. Catching up is going to be expensive, but it will cost even more if these clowns get a chance to set us back again.

My2bits

BC Liberals are no bridge builders

Expect the BC Liberals to demonize the NDP over the Massey ‘tunnel’ replacement, but remember how morally repugnant that party is and the politics they played beforehand. Every word spoken by them must be taken with several grains of salt.

Its true that politicians play a blacktop politics game; as in ‘vote for me and I’ll build [thing]’, usually some major infrastructure. But that wasn’t necessary in 2001 as the BC Liberals strolled to power against a weakened NDP and needed to promise very little outside the platitudes they’ve failed to live up to since.

But, infrastructure is needed. BC has aging bridges and highways that need replacing. The oldest one being the Pattullo Bridge connecting north Surrey/Delta to New Westminster. It was opened for business in 1937. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Port Mann Bridge which was originally opened in 1964. Guess which the BC Liberals decided to replace? Not the older, Pattullo Bridge.

The idea wasn’t without controversy. It was to be an expanded, 10 lane bridge; build under the BC Liberals preferred P3 model; with tolls. Public Private Partnerships were preferred by the BC Liberals because it kept the debt load off the provincial books, even if taxpayers ended up paying more under this framework.

Well the deal fell through and the BC Liberal government was forced to use the traditional model of financing, keeping the toll.

By keeping this toll in place, the BC Liberal government forced a significant uptick on the already over-capacity Alex Fraser Bridge and the pre-WW2 Pattullo Bridge; triggering traffic jams like nobody had seen before.

These are the clowns who built the Sea To Sky on another P3 model, but using ‘shadow tolls‘ to pay the consortium who built the project and its their model for the (now cancelled) Massey Bridge project.

This is what the BC Liberals will try to attack the NDP over, and while crossing the Fraser River through the ‘tunnel’ is a pain in the ass at the best of times, the NDP has likely saved taxpayers a tonne of money so that a more transparent project may be done.

The BC Liberals never built a Pattullo replacement bridge because it wasn’t politically expedient to serve traditional NDP leaning seats when they could drop in a mega-billion dollar project in some swing seats they needed to keep.

These folks are desperate to get back into power…and will say anything to do so.

My2bits

BC Liberals afraid to face voters

I’ve noticed something.

BC Liberal partisans are simultaneously trying to scare voters that this election isn’t necessary because its dangerous to vote while downplaying the pandemic to argue that the election isn’t necessary.

Why would they do that?

BC Liberals don’t want an election because they’re afraid to face voters. Voters will see a party with the same ideas, the same insiders and the same philosophy that left so many behind.

Instead of picking a sea-change leader, they chose in Andrew Wilkinson the most elite and out of touch insider possible. The months and years ahead will require bold changes that the BC Liberals are incapable of doing.

They offer the same tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and service cuts for everyone else. We can choose to go backwards to the era of taking care of the 1% as the BC Liberals do, or we can move forward with the NDP.

My2bits

Voting now isn’t ideal, but waiting is worse.

Once you get over the relatively early election call, you’ll come to the same conclusion. Its about choices. Revert back to the party and leadership brand that hurt BC’s most vulnerable, destroyed the BC forest industry, bled the life out of BC Hydro and ICBC for political gain, and attacked educators and healthcare workers in unions who are 80% female in demographic composition. Or keep moving forward from that 16 year legacy of destruction – with the NDP.

I’ve made it clear that I don’t generally want a snap election, but having one doesn’t dissuade me from my vote – or who I will vote for. In fact, this gives us the opportunity to crush the BC Liberals like they rightly deserved in 2017.

Do it.

While I appreciate the Green Party choosing to side with the NDP in the early days just after the 2017 election, the unique circumstances that gave us this minority parliament are a one-in-a-million and not likely to repeat themselves. I understand that it could have gone the other way. Chances are that this arrangement isn’t going to happen again; it will either be a BC Liberal or an NDP majority government.

Of course, all hasn’t gone to plan…and sure, no party is perfect. Nobody could have predicted a global pandemic that would disrupt our way of life, but here we are. Which goes to the next point.

There are some who would have argued against an early election because of the pandemic, and I hear your point. You are saying that there is a major infection risk to large groups gathering (to vote, I assume). But let me tell you this: ElectionsBC, the non-partisan agency that manages provincial elections, has been working closely with the Provincial Health Office to plan a mitigation process so that voters’ risks are slim to none.

Expect generous early voting opportunities and expanded absentee/mail-in options. The bottom line is that voting in BC will be as safe as ever, and given some recent examples of fuckery happening south of us, free from interference by one side or another who would rather you not vote – or not allow your vote to count.

Yes, it sure seems that we’re on an upswing in covid19 reported infections in BC. While we have done very well in managing the pandemic provincially, every sign is pointing to an unavoidable second-wave. So lets try on a thought experiment:

  • Should we have had that election three months ago when case reporting was lower than it is now?
  • Should we wait until later when caseload reporting is explosive and we’re risking another shut down?
  • Should we go now when its safe and under the close guidance of the public health office?

I’ve been monitoring the debate publicly, and there’s some surprising correlation between those who demand their businesses (night clubs, high capacity venues, etc) be allowed to open up with exemptions to the safe opening rules – and those arguing its unsafe to vote.

‘but its too early’

This minority parliament has survived longer than almost every pundit suggested. That its lasted three-and-a-half years is pretty good. The fact that most minority governments last less than two years, BC can take a bow.

With all the safety precautions in place, voting by mail, etc, to *not* vote would be its own choice. With grave consequences. I point to the example (also) south of us of what not-voting could produce. It gave America a Donald Trump presidency, and may do so again.

The BC Liberals are not any better than the broken version of the party they were in 2017. They are worse. They chose as leader one of the worst examples of the 1% elitist ruling class they could have picked. They said the quiet part out loud. Andrew Wilkinson has consistently proven himself to be the champion of the Howe street elite with zero regard for what goes on in your town, or main street.

What’s worse, is Andrew Wilkinson is no outsider. He was party president of the BC Liberals when Gordon Campbell came to power in 2001; moved on over to government payroll as a deputy minister shortly after. He’s been a lobbyist to pressure government policy, then was a lawyer suing government on behalf of big tobacco when he was outside government.

Then he ran for a seat, became a Christy Clark cabinet minister and later Leader of his party.

While there is nothing illegal or technically wrong about Andrew’s political career path, he cannot at all claim to be any sort of brand renewal or offer any ‘fresh start’. Especially when he’s already signaled his campaign priorities will be massive tax cuts for the rich – exactly where Gordon Campbell left off.

This is the narrative that got Campbell his majority too. But the tax cut flowing from this promise produced the worse non-pandemic related deficit in BC history and led to a decade of cuts to funding to the most vulnerable in BC with service fee increases for everyone else. For the ‘average people’, their tax cut largely evaporated.

No, the NDP are not perfect, and that wouldn’t change in a majority government either. People are allowed to not-be perfect and this is a fair standard for our political leadership too. But I will happily choose to re-elect that imperfect-but-trying NDP government than one that is willfully harming the citizens its pretending to govern under the BC Liberals.

We cannot go back.

My2bits

Green leadership campaign brings out the odd

It was inevitable that the BC Greens, mid leadership contest, would turn against themselves and what they signed up for by agreeing to the CASA deal that ousted the 16 year BC Liberal government in 2017.

Where we’re at is watching the Greens pick apart SiteC, the northern dam being constructed along the Peace River; on costs.

No consideration have been made for the Green Party’s support for ‘run-of-the-river’ projects and their equivalently problematic risks to the environment.

Run of the river and the IPP contracts foisted upon rate-payers are a scandal that will cost BC dearly for decades to come.

The hill to die on for the Greens was apparently the notion of ‘card check’ unionization, meaning that if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union membership cards, the certification would be granted. An idea supported by former Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

In the terms of the CASA arrangement, SiteC was to be examined by the BC Utilities Commission and they would submit a report on its viability.

Remember that on the left, it was highly unpopular among the activist class to build such a monolith on the Peace River as it threatened viable agricultural land, ran afoul of area First Nations, was very expensive (and likely to run well over its budget), and questions raised on the need for such a project.

But, opinion wasn’t unanimous. In fact, yours truly wrote an opinion piece shortly after the approval ‘to continue’ with the dam. I wasn’t on board either, and its still makes me grumpy.

But things have changed.

  • Its not getting any cheaper, and such a project is mired in construction complications; moving a river is no small feat of engineering.
  • Its still compromising to some productive agricultural land.
  • A deal has been struck with one of the area First Nations, that while it doesn’t imply an endorsement, takes an important step to reconciliation missing from the initial planning of the dam.
  • Major investment initiatives and subsidies to encourage more electric vehicle purchases, requiring more hydro usage.
  • Vaunted massive alternative energy generation do not yet exist in numbers needed to offset a cancellation of SiteC, and will likely have serious cost implications akin to IPP’s and the run-of-the-river projects they link to.

While its true that there a relatively slow demand increase of hydro, it still does increase. Wouldn’t a dramatic increase in supply guarantee lower prices and safeguard supply? Of course it would. Especially not being bound as much to seasonally useless supply spikes created by RotR projects.

The problems with BC Hydro aren’t exclusive to SiteC. Last decade’s tinkering of the operations of BC Hydro by the BC Liberals did serious damage to the viability of the Crown Corporation. By forcing the utility to borrow money to give to the government in the form of ‘dividends’ while deferring this racked up debt along side the red ink drawn up in building SiteC.

SiteC still makes me grumpy, but given the time to think this over, the project might win me over too.

And I’m not alone either. When it was announced that SiteC was to continue, a major polling firm conducted a survey to gauge opinion in BC. What it found was stunning. That BC Liberal supporters were overwhelmingly in favour of completing SiteC was not surprising, learning that a plurality of NDP *and* Green voters did too – well that took my breath away.

The project was hotly debated in the 2017 BC Election with the Greens vowing to halt the dam, the NDP promising to have it examined by the BCUC and the Liberals would finish the dam without delay. When the ballots were counted and the BC Liberals were only two seats ahead of the NDP and in a minority government, the Greens had every opportunity to make a deal with whomever they wanted.

They sided with the NDP and the ensuing CASA deal that ensured the parliamentary survival of the newly formed NDP minority government on confidence matters (such as a budget or certain legislative initiatives. Scrapping the dam was not part of the deal.

So its strikes me as odd that now, in the middle of a BC Green Party leadership contest that SiteC has come up and they’re targeting the NDP will all their rage at the continuation of the dam construction…and they’re citing costs.

Ok. Costs are going to suck, I’ll grant you that. So lets talk about the costs of halting the project and tearing it down. If you drop $15 billion on the project, then add another $5 billion to remove it, you have a $20 billion monument to stupidity.

No asset.

What about contract cancellation fees? There’s got to be billions extra in unknown costs that would be charged up – or sued out of the provincial government for such an idiotic choice. A choice still being pushed by the Greens I might add.

Look, we’re into an era of extraordinary costs brought on by covid19 based delays and business shut downs; tens of thousands of people are still without work as the economy slowly restarts. These unforeseen events will add billions of dollars in debt to the provincial books; everyone knows this.

But in the era of ‘lets get through this’ (together), cancelling a major energy infrastructure project will unnecessarily throw 3-4 thousand workers out of their jobs and add billions of dollars of new debt to the books without any assets or new revenue to pay for it.

You don’t have to like SiteC to support it. I don’t. But, lets get it done and add it to our supply matrix for energy and be done with it. Finishing the dam doesn’t mean you can’t explore other ways to produce more renewable energy, but it means that we have to do this better.

We still have time. Do we have the will?

My2bits

The hypocrisy of Canada’s far right on covid19

Why won’t Trudeau help Canadians becoming ‘how are we going to pay for that’

Don’t lift a finger to stop these far right imbeciles from looking any more stupid than they already do.

But, aren’t they stupid? Of course they are, but now they’re drifting into the realm of irrational.

The above screenshot is from Canada Proud, a relative newcomer to the social media self-fellatio of the right wing nuttosphere.

They’ve latched onto what is bubbling up in the Trump world of alternative facts and it may have a profound impact on American politics. It must not do the same here.

Justin Trudeau did not create the $140 billion debt prior to the covid19 pandemic. That was already there. Some of it was by decisions of his government, much of it was left over from all previous administrations.

To then argue or light your hair on fire over the costs rising from the mitigation efforts infers that either they would not have spent a penny to help Canadians through this pandemic.

You’ll note that they ignore this problem when it comes to conservative regimes in Alberta, Ontario or under Trump.

Somehow, money only matters (that needs to be paid back) when non-conservatives are in charge.

They do have a point. Money borrowed like this does need to be paid.

But the right wing has no real answers. They’d cut taxes for the rich again and gut social spending, as they always do. By doing so they serve to widen the already obscene rich/poor gap they pretend to care about. They don’t. They only have one master: money.

They will not entertain a wealth tax, they will not examine a basic income, they won’t lift a finger for social housing. They’ll pretend to care about front line essential workers but undermine the workplace safety provisions they need.

Because they’ve always done this.

I’m not a Liberal Party supporter, but I don’t see any way that massive debt charges were avoidable when large swaths of employees were told to stay home from work while social distancing guidelines take effect.

Nobody had fun doing this and it’s going to cause other issues soon enough. But, money? Well if your only God is money, then your worship over it at least makes sense.

But you’re wrong.

My2bits