Looking past pipelines, the NDP-Green agreement looks pretty good for BC

“Mark my words, that pipeline will be built, the decisions have been made.” – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP leader

Rachel Notley

Alberta politicians, media and pundits are unsurprisingly focused on what the governing agreement between British Columbia New Democratic Party leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver will mean for the future of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline.

The agreement would have the province’s three Green Party MLAs support the 41 NDP MLAs on confidence motions and money bills in the Legislative Assembly, allowing the NDP to form a minority government. Christy Clark‘s Liberals have 43 MLAs, one MLA short of a majority.

Aside from oil pipelines, the NDP-Green agreement commits to holding a referendum  on proportional representation in fall 2018 (though it is not clear what form of proportional representation will be proposed) and reforming BC’s wild-west election finance laws (banning corporate and union donations, placing limits on individual donations, and limiting party loans to banks and financial institutions).

The agreement also commits to appointing a commission to create a plan to implement a $15 per hour minimum wage, preserving public health care and education, and improving funding for public transit. While some of the points are intentionally vague, overall it reads like a fairly positive guide for the next BC government.

Andrew Weaver Green Party British Columbia

Andrew Weaver

But back to that pipeline from Alberta, the agreement states: “Immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast, and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province.”

The pipeline expansion has already been approved by the federal government, but faces opposition from the public and the courts in BC. In an article earlier this month, James Wilt outlined three ways the BC government could stop or slow down the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.

Political opposition to the pipeline from an Green-supported NDP government in BC could create a lot of political trouble for Rachel Notley‘s NDP government in Alberta. There is no shortage of irony that the NDP-Green agreement could create a world of political problems for the most progressive and environmentally-friendly government Alberta has ever had.

Despite the Notley government’s Climate Leadership Plan, disagreement over oil pipelines has lead to a significant split between the Alberta NDP and its counterparts outside the province.

John Horgan BC NDP Leader Premier

John Horgan

Notley has been steadfast in her support for the pipeline, and as far as Alberta politicians go, she is probably in the best position to negotiate some sort of political compromise with a future Premier Horgan. The two politicians know each other and many NDP political staffers in Edmonton have deep connections to the BC NDP. Alberta’s Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips even worked in the BC NDP campaign war-room in 2013.

In many ways, it would be easier for the BC NDP, and probably the federal NDP, if Alberta was governed by climate change denying conservatives. At least then they would be able to oppose these oil pipelines without the kind of complications that having an NDP government in Alberta has caused for them.

It is not clear when, or if, Horgan and Weaver will be able to enact their agreement. Clark has said she will remain in office for the time-being, likely until her Liberal Party loses a confidence vote in the Legislative Assembly. When that takes place could determine the political future of the pipeline, and who will be representing BC when the Council of the Federation meets in Edmonton from  July 17 to 19, 2017.

Schweitzer is back, again, probably

Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer is not running in the PC leadership race.

Doug Schweitzer

Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, who pulled the plug on his bid to leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party last September and backed Jason Kenney instead, has announced his plans to run for the currently non-existent United Conservative Party. He is the former CEO of the Manitoba PC Party and was involved in Jim Prentice‘s campaign for the Alberta PC Party leadership in 2014. He served as Kenney’s scrutineer when the ballots were counted in the 2017 PC leadership race.

Schweitzer’s candidacy is entirely dependent on whether members of the Wildrose and PC parties vote to form a new party on July 22, which I expect will happen.

8 thoughts on “Looking past pipelines, the NDP-Green agreement looks pretty good for BC

  1. Morag Mackenzie

    Very little is being said about the people in BC who wanted the pipeline to go ahead. Even together the ND and Green are not speaking on behalf of the majority. Certainly the election in BC has given us several good articles and a lot to think about. Thanks for the article good points made.

    Reply
  2. John Smith

    Schweitzer is a political nobody who can’t decide whether he’s running or not. Plus even if he is running hes chasing a red Tory base who has left the party.

    He will lose badly.

    Reply
  3. Ron

    We here in BC are ecstatic kinda like ….. ‘ding dong the witch is dead’

    We have a good chance of stopping
    KM (don’t worry Alberta your kids and grandkids will thanks us)
    Site C
    LNG Boondoggle

    and a good chance of getting a rational electoral system & perhaps inspire it across Canada

    what’s not to like?

    Reply
    1. jay

      Ron: That’s a lot to hang on a one-seat edge–and not even that when a speaker is elected (and no, it won’t be a Liberal). If this coalition does go ahead, it’s not likely to last long enough for anyone’s kids or grandkids to even remember.

      Reply
  4. David

    I think the BC NDP and Greens can agree on enough things for there to be a stable government in BC for a while, that is not the problem. Like most politicians, the things that are difficult or where they don’t agree will be ignored, set aside or punted down the road if possible. It would make for an enduring minority government, except for the fact it is so numerically fragile. A one member advantage is very tenuous. If someone is ill, dies or misses a ferry the BC Liberals will be ready to pounce if they think have a better chance of winning. They already have enough money in their war chest for another campaign and I expect they will be using their time in opposition to do as much fundraising as they can.

    I don’t think Premier Clark is going anywhere, other than to the opposition benches where I can imagine her working on softening her image, coming up with a few good promises to win over swing voters and planning a comeback like Pierre Trudeau did in 1980. Of course, she will need the new government to make a few mistakes, but with a party that hasn’t governed for 16 years together with a party that has never governed, what could possibly go wrong? Clark already knows where all the problems and tricky issues are, so she will be quite ready if they do stumble.

    Even if she does not succeed, the BC NDP will probably eventually tire of the restraint of working with another party and if it appears they are popular enough to win on their own they will do something that causes the minority to fail – likely before the referendum on proportional representation.

    Reply
  5. J.E. Molnar

    It appears the newly-formed coalition has quite the shopping list for social change. Like all fervent new governments, they will eventually wake up to the realization that social progress has unintended consequences — funding issues.

    I suspect they will take another hard look at the additional revenue the KM pipeline will add to government coffers when the rubber hits the road. I am not one who dismisses the notion of no pipeline, simply because a coalition government is holding the rest of the country hostage. After all, governments have been known to change their minds all too often.

    Reply

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