Stockwell Day, former Reform Alliance Party leader and Conservative Party member for Okanagan Coquihalla has come out four square in favour of Christy Clark and her merry band of progressives. The political calculus of Day, and many others who purport to represent the right side of the political spectrum in B.C., is that the right must support Clark, lest the right-wing vote be split (presumably with B.C. Conservatives) and Dix and the NDP win the province.
Day’s concern is legitimate with respect to the damage Dix and the socialists in the B.C. NDP will do the provincial economy. We have seen the disastrous results of NDP policies, and those of the Trudeau era progressive left, have had on B.C. and the country. We are saddled with expensive and failed multicultural policies, socialized health care, human rights commissions and environmental extremism in the form of government policy — all planks in the NDP/Socialist platforms. We can ill afford another round of Glen Clark economic policies.
The question Day and others should be asking is whether we can afford even a single round of Christy Clark economics. The BC Liberals have managed to remain in power by simply not being the NDP, and reminding voters of the Dosanjh/Clark lost decade. Fear is a useful tactic, but a poor strategy.
Despite calling themselves “Liberal” (while considering a name change) this mob of Liberals is closer to the NDP in world view than the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives of Stockwell Day. It is intriguing that many so-called conservatives support them. Polling indicates that a Clark-led Liberal party is no lock for an election win. While many B.C. voters oppose Dix and the NDP, it is clear that many centre-right voters — who are the majority in B.C. — are uncomfortable with Clark and the new liberal Liberals. With good reason.
In policy terms, the BC Liberals have either enacted or are proposing a litany of NDP policies. Under the Liberals we now have, or can look forward to, a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme, government-funded quit smoking programs and mandatory all-day, government-funded kindergarten. In Clark’s platform document B.C.’s Energy Advantage focuses on so-called clean energy development, avoiding any talk of increased oil exploration, new hydro or industrial development — all of which are B.C.’s true energy advantages. Not a word about developing B.C.’s vast coal resources. No mention of new pipelines or petrochemical development because these initiatives are non-union and “carbon” intensive, and as such don’t fit with new Liberal vision for B.C., but dovetails nicely with that of the NDP.
Further evidence of how close Clark’s Liberals are to Clark’s NDP is the recently announced government funding of fuel cells and subsidies to wind power. Government directly choosing winners and losers, at a time when it is popular to attack tax incentives — mischaracterized by the left as subsidies — to oil companies. Clark will “re-invest” in the north and protect and create jobs. In short, pursue the former Clark’s policy of “shovelling money off the truck” — a time-honoured NDP pastime.
Day and other conservatives are right to fear an NDP win. The issue, however, is not a split between two right-wing parties. There are no viable right-wing parties. We have the Dix NDP and the Clark “NDP light”. What Day and others should pursue is an internal challenge at the constituency level of every progressive Liberal incumbent, with a conservative challenger. Past Socred/Conservative donors who migrated to the Liberal Party should withhold donations to the party until policies are amended. Even the threat of either such action will force change.
Without an articulated vision for B.C. that directly opposes that of the NDP, and instead encourages personal responsibility, smaller government and economic development, this version of BC Liberals, or whatever they decide to call themselves, will face the same destiny of their federal namesake. By deciding to share the left side of the political spectrum with the NDP, Clark’s Liberals have given voters little to choose from and risk creating an Orange Crush of their own making.
Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.