Pipeline policy reveals shift in NDP support

B.C. NDP relying more heavily on public sector and teachers unions, along with radical environmentalists

Adrian Dix is against the Northern Gateway pipeline. This comes as no surprise. What is surprising is that it took until this month for our provincial socialists to announce formally the position the NDP would take in any case. Purporting to “protect” workers from the people who provide workers the work, the NDP believes that profit, private property and wealth creation is evil, and must be stopped.

If there is any question about these socialist beliefs, the preamble to the B.C. NDP constitution provides clarification: “The principles of democratic socialism can be defined briefly as follows: a) the production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people and not for profit; b) the modification and control of the operations of monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning, towards these ends; and c) where necessary, the extension of the principle of social ownership.”

Interestingly, the federal NDP has scrubbed this language from any online documentation (although the words remain in hard copy). B.C.’s socialists are much prouder of their convictions. Given the foundation of the NDP’s philosophy, Dix’s party’s position on Northern Gateway is consistent. The NDP came to this public position much more easily today than it could have just a few years ago.

Historically, the B.C. NDP drew its support from private-sector unions in forestry, mine workers and construction. These companies and union workers generated real wealth because these people turned raw materials into goods other people wanted to pay for. Workers and shareholders alike (often these folks were one and same) prospered as a result.

Technology, free trade and economic realities have reduced membership in these private unions, and in many cases, workers who would in the past have been union members choose to offer their skills in the free(er), non-union market environment. The unions that remain in private industry realize that in order to survive, they must be competitive with non-union operations. The result is that fewer private-sector union members can afford to support the anti-industry tenets of the NDP.

The erosion of private union influence on the economy forces the B.C. NDP to rely more and more on two major constituencies for financial and political support. The first group, the largest funders of the NDP, is the public sector and teachers unions. The second group, that doesn’t provide funding for the NDP but is far more useful from a media relations standpoint, are the radical environmentalists. This shift in NDP support from the productive, wealth-creating private trade unions, to the unproductive, radical public-sector unions and big green groups results in positions against enterprise, such as Dix’s on the Northern Gateway.

The piper must be paid, so Dix and the NDP abandon the welders, heavy equipment operators and construction workers who would benefit from the approval of Northern Gateway. Instead, the NDP must toe the line of their paymasters in big green and public-sector unions and resist the pipeline. The rationalization for the NDP’s opposition to this and similar projects is protection of the environment.

The NDP has never let facts get in the way of their rhetoric. B.C. has had oil and gas pipelines running from Alberta to the coast for nearly 70 years. The Trans-mountain pipeline terminates in North Burnaby. There are pipelines running along the proposed Northern Gateway route that end up in Kitimat. Prince Rupert is set to become a major terminal for natural gas, piped across the province from Alberta. Oil tankers come and go from English Bay in Vancouver every day. There has never been an “environmental” incident on any of these pipelines.

If the NDP knows there is little environmental danger, and the party is prepared to sacrifice workers to stop the pipeline, we need to ask why they really oppose the project. The answer is evident from the NDP’s constitution and the sources of their financial and political support in the public sector and radical environmentalists. The NDP is fundamentally opposed to any private economic activity, because at its core, the party believes that the economy is a zero sum game. Dix and his enablers believe that any economic gain by a group of individuals can only come at the expense of another. The economic pie, according to the NDP, has a finite number of slices, and only the NDP is morally qualified to distribute the crumbs. This belief is the foundation of socialism. Environmentalists provide the cover; the public-sector unions provide the money.

Adrian Dix is against the Northern Gateway pipeline. That is no surprise. It would be surprising if he told us the real reason for his opposition.




Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.