Les Leyne: ‘Work together,’ but with whom?

Les Leyne mugshot genericSixty per cent of B.C. voters in the election said loud and clear they want the Site C dam stopped.

No, wait. Sixty per cent of voters said they want Kinder Morgan blocked from building the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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Hold on. Sixty per cent want social services strengthened, big changes in child care and our broken voting system fixed.

While waiting for the final results, a number of groups are playing the game of ascribing a single motive to the percentage of the vote that didn’t go Liberal. There are an infinite number of options to choose from. A number of them were cited Tuesday at a rally to encourage NDP and Green co-operation.

It’s still a hypothetical proposition, subject mostly to the recount of a virtual dead heat in Courtenay-Comox. But the group did give a taste of the pressures facing NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver.

There are enormous expectations on them to do all sorts of things all at once, despite the fact that a minority government is about the worst configuration for accomplishing them. And Liberals could still conceivably eke out a majority with zero seats to spare. So the fact they held the rally even before the possibility for co-operation is confirmed only heightens the pressure.

The rally was organized by Leadnow, a political advocacy group that campaigned for a change of government, without specifying any formal support to other parties. It is the subject of a complaint — revealed in the Calgary Herald on Tuesday — to Elections Canada about the role it played in campaigning against Stephen Harper in the 2015 federal election.

Wealthy U.S. backers of anti-Canadian-oil campaigns fund the environmental and social-justice group Tides Canada, and the complaint is that foreign money “spawned” Leadnow and helped fund an elaborate campaign to oust Harper. Leadnow’s Lyndsay Poaps said the group filed financing reports with Elections Canada and it raised no concerns.

The view is that if no party has a strong majority, there is a “historic opportunity” to work together on merging some elements of the campaigns. Leadnow rounded up a diverse group of people who share that view. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs’ Stewart Phillip said 60 per cent voted for change and understand the need to stop “this ongoing romance catering and pandering to trans-national corporations.”

Environmental campaigner Sven Biggs said: “We will only get the result that we want, a province that stands up to outside oil money that has influenced our politics for too long, if progressives come together.”

Horgan and Weaver were directed to put aside partisanship and any personal grudges and come together to protect the coast.

Another read on what the 60 per cent said came from an anti-Site C campaigner, who said the vote shows people want the dam stopped.

Terry Dance-Bennink also said B.C. needs electoral reform, “preferably without a referendum.”

Still others stressed the opportunity to “embrace all the wealth and opportunity and good family-supporting jobs that are waiting for us in the low-carbon economy.”

The various camps that make up the “anybody but the Liberals” movement all stressed the popular vote count. But the seat count has the Liberals ahead by a margin that is still up in the air for at least another day.

The government would have to fall for any of the interpretations laid out Tuesday to come to pass. There’s not much doubt the groups want the Greens and NDP to make that happen the first chance they get.

The Greens’ Sonia Furstenau and the NDP’s Carole James were on hand to receive the petition, but were non-committal about what it all means.

The one lesson on display Tuesday seems to be for the Greens. They should brace for a big wave of disappointment from assorted activists if the negotiations currently underway lead to any scenario in which the Greens agree to prop up the Liberal government.

And if they wind up backing an NDP government of some sort, both parties need to figure out a way to address the huge expectations that are building in people, who might be getting ahead of themselves.

lleyne@timescolonist.com

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