If you weren’t convinced the normally wacky world of B.C. politics has been turned on its ear after the flip-flopping of long-held policies by the B.C. Liberals earlier this year, this week’s NDP move to take big money donations out of future provincial elections should prove it.
Voters could be excused for scratching their heads when the NDP, which wanted corporate donations to political parties banned while it was in opposition, refused to support a Liberal move to do just that last week. The Liberals, in turn, had opposed a ban when they were in power.
The reason for the NDP opposition? Premier John Horgan’s crew wanted to be the ones to introduce a ban. And despite doing exactly what the Liberals were doing when it came to raking in cash at big-ticket, pay-for-play parties, the NDP tried to take the high ground as it introduced its own ban earlier this week.
British Columbians were left to watch as the party that wanted a ban refused to support a proposed ban from the party that didn’t want a ban only to introduce its own ban a few days later. Confused? You should be. Welcome to B.C. politics—Twilight Zone edition.
For all the talk of principle, moral high ground and governments for everyone, the bottom line is politics, especially in B.C, is a blood sport. It’s also a world of “what have you done for me lately?”
Any perceived weakness is viewed as an opportunity for political opponents to pounce. It doesn’t matter what was said before, when it comes to political rhetoric, the men and women we elect to represent us really do live in the moment. Past pronouncements are exactly that—past.
We saw that in stark, cynical detail following the May provincial election when the Liberals won—based on the number of seats—the NDP came second and the B.C. Greens a distant third. But the Liberals win was not big enough, so the NDP and Greens cobbled a perfectly legitimate alliance and toppled the 16-year-old Liberal government of former premier Christy Clark.
Leading up to that non-confidence vote, the Liberals had backtracked on a myriad of positions in order hold on to power.
Since then, the post-election weirdness has just carried on.
The speaker of the legislature is now a former Liberal who said he’d never take the job without his caucus colleagues approval—only to take it anyway.
There’s no rule in politics that says you have to play by the rules. You just have to deal with the consequences when you don’t. But voters have notoriously short memories when it comes to politicians behaving badly, going back on promises, flouting the rules and flip-flopping on positions.
With its new political donation rules, the NDP is taking the limelight and refusing to share. And with its attempt to beat the NDP to the punch, the Liberals are trying to take the credit. But neither party has much credibility when it comes to that particular issue.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.