Les Leyne: Green governance is in realm of the hypothetical

Have some sympathy for the imaginary person who would undertake the toughest hypothetical job in B.C. — minister of finance in a Green government.

He or she would be sworn in to manage B.C.’s $44-billion annual operating budget on the party’s premise that it has to be balanced.

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And it has to balance with zero prospect of billions in liquefied natural gas revenues, because the Greens are against that.

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There would be no revenues from oil pipelines or tanker traffic, either, because the proposals would stop dead in their tracks. Greens would clamp down on mining and recast forestry as a no old growth, no clear-cutting proposition.

You can forget the $1 billion in gambling revenue because most forms of it would be phased out.

They also frown on debt.

There would be some new revenue — the carbon tax would jump, and they’d tax drivers so heavily that 85 per cent of vehicle emissions would be curtailed. But There would be tax cuts as well — on industries or companies that are doing business in a healthy fashion.

There would also be a raft of new social programs — and lots of new jobs uninstalling smart meters for anyone who asks.

But Greens always save themselves from themselves at election time. The platform always prompts interest — and trepidation — at how radical it is when it comes to moving to a low-carbon economy. Then the interest is constrained by the fact that they’re still a generation away from being viable politically.

So the platform is just a series of markers for some genuinely interesting ideas that no one has to worry about executing right now.

Green leader Jane Sterk said Thursday that while the NDP and the Liberals pay a lot of attention to B.C.’s resource sector, the present day is the “last gasp” of the resource economy.

It ran on cheap fuel and debt, she said, and it’s all coming to an end.

Greens would focus on sunshine, wind and geothermal, as far as energy is concerned. Sterk said B.C. is “way too late in the game” for LNG.

Asked during the televised debate what industrial activity is acceptable to Greens, Sterk cited clean-tech renewable energy and a new emphasis on agriculture.

There would be an enormous amount of dislocation getting from the present day to the Green’s vision of the future. But Sterk said there’s a fair amount of dislocation, in the here and now, between skilled trades in southern B.C. and open jobs in the north.

Dealing with that transition would be similar to balancing a Green government budget — a hypothetical problem.

She has acknowledged they won’t form government. They have a shot at perhaps two seats.

That would only get them perhaps three or four questions a week in the legislature, but Sterk said it would make a profound difference. They would work to change the culture and work for constituents, not the party.

A Green MLA or two would “create relationships with every other member in the chamber and talk to government about different ways of doing things.”

By the end of the last parliament, there were four independent MLAs sitting on the edge of the fray, essentially trying to do that job.

They had varying degrees of success.

But three of them are running again. So there must be some sense of accomplishment in the role.

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