The free-enterprise coalition in British Columbia is no more, and there are important warnings – and lessons – for both the Conservatives and Liberals at the federal level.
With the NDP & Greens forming a coalition government, the big political change in BC holds warning signs for both the Conservatives & Liberals at the federal level. With a new leader, the Conservatives are best positioned to pay heed to those warnings and adapt.
Warning signs for the Conservatives
First, the combined NDP + Green vote was 56.61%, compared to just 40.84% for the BC Liberals (despite the name, the BC Liberals have many conservative operatives and members). Those results show that the BC Liberals effort to cast the NDP as economically destructive was not successful. It also shows a very large number of voters see themselves represented by centre-left parties. This left the BC Liberals needing a narrow tactical victory – relying on a NDP/Green vote split – to emerge with the smallest of wins in the seat count.
Though it almost worked, coming up just 1 seat short of a majority leaves the free-enterprise coalition with no power whatsoever. This is a challenge faced by the Conservatives federally. Even winning 40% of the vote may mean nothing without a majority, as the other parties are unwilling to help a Conservative government take power. If the federal Conservatives just hope to get lucky with a vote split in 2019, they could find Justin Trudeau back in power, even if he loses tons of seats.
As I’ve said, the Conservatives must reshape the entire political spectrum in Canada (Patriotism vs Globalism). Otherwise, the Liberals will continue to have a substantial built-in advantage.
Warning signs for the Liberals
The Trudeau Liberals face an even bigger warning from the BC Election, and if the Conservative Party takes full advantage they can overcome the vulnerabilities I mentioned above.
In the campaign, the BC Liberals made a similar economic argument to the one Justin Trudeau will make in 2019: BC enjoys good economic growth stats, and the government talked about finding “social license” for energy projects. Christy Clark said things were going well in BC, so why risk a change?
Trudeau will likely make the same argument.
Here’s the thing: That argument didn’t work.
While incoming BC Premier John Horgan ran on a fairly traditional NDP platform, there were certain populist overtones the Conservatives would be wise to learn from.
First, Horgan ran against the influence of foreign money, which is a huge problem in BC. Foreign corporations and banks are able to flood the province with money, creating a system of legalized corruption. As a condition of the coalition agreement, the NDP and Greens have agreed to end foreign money in BC elections. BC voters hated the idea of foreign countries and companies deciding who would govern them.
Clearly, the Trudeau Liberals are massively vulnerable on the issue of foreign influence. From reports that foreign money skewed the 2015 election towards the Liberals, to cash-for-access fundraisers, to the infrastructure bank, the billionaire island visit, letting China buy a sensitive Canadian military tech company, and more, Trudeau has obviously governed for foreign interests rather than Canadians. That attack was devastating to the BC Liberals, and it needs to be made against Trudeau as well. After all, while Horgan didn’t use the term “globalist,” he certainly cast the BC Liberals as being a tool of powerful foreign interests.
When it comes to the economy, quoting nice looking stats didn’t get the job done for the BC Liberals. A clear majority of BC residents didn’t feel the economy was working well for them. GDP growth is heavily concentrated in a small elite – just as in the rest of Canada – and the gap between the super-rich and middle class continues to widen. Housing prices are insane, job security is weak, and middle class and low income people feel more squeezed then ever.
Good GDP growth numbers don’t matter if the vast majority of people don’t feel any benefit to themselves. After all, statistics are often worthless for getting a true idea of what’s happening.
If there are 10 people in a group, and 9 of them don’t get a raise in a decade while one of them gets a 500% income jump, the overall income increase numbers for those 10 people will look great, even though only one benefited.
That’s what we’re seeing in BC and across Canada. The economy is growing for a tiny group of people, while it’s stagnant for everyone else. That’s why Christy Clark’s campaign message fell on millions of deaf ears.
And finally, when it comes to “social license” for energy projects, the BC results showed that no amount of pandering or nice words will convince the anti-energy lobby to stop opposing important pipelines. “Social license” is a made-up term that can mean anything at all, and only serves to slow projects down. Legal authority is what matters, nothing more, nothing less.
The lesson for the Conservatives here is clear: Go after Trudeau on the influence of foreign money, highlight the real plight of millions of struggling Canadians every time Trudeau tries to distract with skewed stats, and don’t waste time talking about “social license.”
Every election is unique. The federal election will be very different than the BC election. But as you have seen, there are clear warnings and important lessons to be learned by the two main parties. With Justin Trudeau locked in to his dangerous globalist ideology, Andrew Scheer is best positioned to adapt those lessons to the federal scene, and increase his chances of sending Trudeau packing.
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