We're now into the last week of a B.C. election campaign that has been quite unlike anything seen before and the exact outcome of it still remains to be seen too when voting concludes on Saturday, Oct. 24.
The combination of the snap call by NDP Premier John Horgan (just over three years into a potentially five-year term), the many negative effects of the Covid pandemic on the campaign styles and media coverage of all of the parties, and the very recent installations of new leaders for the B.C. Green Party (Sonia Furstenau) and the Conservative Party of B.C. (Trevor Bolin) have given the New Democrats a substantial lead in opinion polls: NDP 49%, Liberals 33% and Greens 14%.
Shamefully, most of the pollsters don't even ask about or even mention the existence of Conservative candidates in 19 constituencies let alone that several of them have good chances of winning their seats, notably Bolin in Peace River North (where he is a well-known city councillor in Fort St. John) and Ryan Warawa (son of a well-known federal Conservative MP) in Langley East, and thereby gaining official party status in the B.C. Legislature or even holding a balance of power.
The B.C. Conservatives, who are not formally aligned with the federal Conservatives, are perceived by some B.C. Liberal strategists as merely troublesome splitters of what the Liberals believe should be a united free-enterprise coalition against the socialist NDP and thus some of the Conservative candidates have been victims of dirty tricks such as damage to and thefts of signs, malicious behaviours online, exclusion from some events and minimal coverage in some mainstream media.
Nonetheless the B.C. Conservatives have developed a distinct and viable made-in-B.C. party platform viewable at https://www.bcconservative.ca/ and featuring five planks:
1. Scrap the carbon tax
2. Scrap ICBC's monopoly
3. Sustainable resource development
4. Adopt a greenhouse gas reduction strategy
5. Put peoples' needs before party politics
A good argument to be made that the B.C. Liberals do not deserve another chance at power any time soon after their most recent debacle, which featured them turning blind eyes to criminal money-laundering through B.C. casinos (an inquiry into that issue has been suspended during the campaign), draining ICBC of operating funds to help cover up their provincial government deficits, and under-funding social and security services and thereby contributing to the recent outbreak of homelessness, tent cities in parks and the wave of drug-related urban crimes infesting communities all around the province - even including a major arson and a murder recently in downtown Campbell River.
My own platform includes these highlights:
* Responsible resource development
* Revive a B.C. Provincial Police force
* Revive a provincial Bank of B.C.
* Address homelessness and addictions
* Allow parent-controlled Charter Schools
* Protect environment and parks
* Promote food self-sufficiency
* Support private-sector job creation
In general, I foresee some very troubled times in the world ahead which make it urgent now for British Columbians to take all the steps we can to insulate the province from external threats, such as by having its own police force (in parallel with the RCMP), its own money supply (also parallel with Canada's) and its own food supplies (which is still possible thanks to the far-sighted Agricultural Land Reserve brought in in the early 1970s by the NDP government of Premier Dave Barrett, for whom I served as Press Secretary and thereby gained a superb education in B.C. politics, economics, finances and public affairs, after which I became a successful business journalist).
Re forest policy, which is especially important in North Island (where I have lived for about 20 years and visited regulalry for all of my life), I favour protecting places with special environmental and biodiversity values while still finding places for loggers to log in commercially viable ways, hopefully in ways more friendly to the environment than vast clearcuts, and with enough tree-cutting to keep local mills operating, ideally with more value-added. This probably will entail a shift to new styles of logging such as with more selection of individual trees, more use of waste wood in pulp mills and pre-planning of monoculture patches of higher-value trees for new small clearcuts 50 years hence. The transition may be rocky but the end goal should be worth it: win-win for all sides, First Nations included.
Regarding salmon aquaculture, which also is a major private-sector industry in North Island, I support the industry's continued existence and even growth but I would also like to work with the industry and the federal government on the re-location of some net pens and moving their attendant sea lice away from the migratory paths of wild salmon and to minimize certain other negative impacts such as waste piles under the pens (maybe free fertilizer in food-self-sufficiency plots in more new community gardens?) - but I oppose a transfer to land-based fish farms because the amount of energy needed to circulate the water in them would make them uneconomic.
There also are many other existing and potentially new industries that could be developed, such as exporting modest amounts of surplus fresh water from the now-idled pulp mill in Port Alice and from several other potential locations on the island and B.C.'s coast, such as First Nations reserves west of Port Alberni.
I also would push for a new approach to dealing with homeless people and drug addicts that could involve tiny homes with garden patches inside secure gated compounds, combined with counselling and medical care.
Regarding environmental issues, I have a very long history in the B.C. "green" movement from its earliest days in the 1960s, notably lobbying successfully for the inclusions of the West Coast Trail and the Nitinat Triangle in Pacific Rim National Park, supporting the early Greenpeace movement (both during the Barrett era along with the above-mentioned Agricultural Land Reserve), supporting the preservation of certain wilderness forest stands, and nowadays supporting community gardens and bashing broom.
Regarding climate policy, I support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reductions of air pollution in general, but I do not support extreme measures against oil, gas and coal industries because their air emissions supposedly worsen global warming; in fact human additions of CO2 actually are negligible in the big picture, moving the proportion from 0.038% to only 0.040% in recent decades, the climate effects of which are still dwarfed by natural variations in solar emissions, planet tilt and wobbles, and orbital distances. So I am a green activist opposing extremist climate alarmism. (Also note there has been only negligible rise in local sea levels.)
Another of the main reasons I am running is to oppose the B.C. Liberals, who have proven to be grossly incompetent, venal and even corrupt in some cases, and their resorting in this campaign to attempting a cheap smear against Bolin (involving an old and minor labour-standards complaint between two of his employees) proves it anew.
The fact the Wilkinson B.C. Liberals have been resorting to such deceits and dirty tricks is proof that they don't deserve any votes now, and I am pleased to be able to offer a responsible alternative to both the Liberals and the New Democrats.
Though I probably won't be part of a governing party if I am elected on Saturday I am confident that I have enough good contacts and enough awareness of how things work in Victoria, where I was a working journalist in the Press Gallery for about 20 years, that I will be well able to deliver many positive results for the people, local governments and businesses of North Island.