North America’s first ever left-green government comes to power in B.C.

High hopes after 16 long years of rule by the corrupt B.C. Liberals

It’s a big day for British Columbia, as a social democratic government comes to power due to the support of the Green Party, ending the crony capitalist rule of the B.C. Liberals — a party backed to the hilt by real estate profiteers, fossil fuel barons, and most of the rest of the province’s rather shameless and uncultured super-rich.

The last time we had an NDP government, I was a 23 year old working at Grimm’s meatpacking plant in Richmond. (The unionized factory, of course, has since been been razed and replaced with a condo development.)

Today I’m thinking about all the battles we’ve fought over the past 16 years, and especially about those indispensable activists who didn’t live to see this day. Here’s hoping the Liberals can now be locked out of power as long as they just governed.

This new government has the narrowest of margins, but a strong mandate to clean up corruption and begin to reverse the staggering inequality in this province. Christy Clark, in a doomed and shortsighted bid to pressure the Lieutenant-Governor into calling a new election, delivered a Throne Speech that borrowed many of the social democratic plans from the NDP’s platform — the NDP should ruthlessly throw these words back in the Liberals’ faces, and proceed to aggressively implement their agenda on child care, raising the minimum wage and electoral reform. (A referendum on a new proportional representation system will need to be organized with lightning quickness, with a clear question in place in time for the Oct. 2018 municipal elections. Fairer voting advocates beware, there will be saboteurs in the NDP’s camp on this file.)

There are major contradictions in North America’s first ever left-green government, but also many creative tensions that social movements can help leverage for real victories. For pipeline boosters from Edmonton to Houston, the Greens having the balance of power is a worst-case scenario (Kinder Morgan investors, take note.)

The convergence of movements for ecological integrity and for social justice is essential to the long-term survival of our species. The left must become more green, and the greens must become more left. That’s part of the reason this new B.C. government will be watched closely far beyond our province.

I’ll be writing a lot about B.C. politics in the months ahead. For an overview of my take on the situation, you can listen to this conversation I had with André Goulet on his award-winning podcast, Unpacking the News.