Liberals pitch potential election platform planks to party supporters
B.C.’s next provincial election is scheduled to take place on October 16, 2021, and the BC Liberal Party has begun testing platform planks as it seeks to defeat the “fragile minority government” of the NDP and allied Green caucus.
“British Columbians are tired of the NDP government picking winners and losers and telling them how to live their lives,” leader Andrew Wilkinson said in a letter sent to party supporters on Wednesday. “From suburban families paying too much for ICBC, to forestry workers facing job losses, to farming families having their property rights stripped away, BC is ready for a government that offers opportunity for all of us.”
The letter outlines the need to pitch “bold, compelling ideas” in 2021, along with 10 platform priorities, which were added to the party’s website in September.
In the early days of the BC NDP-Green Party governing alliance, the Liberals conducted policy outreach in preparation for a potential snap election that has yet to materialize.
Alongside promises to “restore and rebuild BC’s economic advantages” by reducing “the burden of taxes and red tap that crush innovation and growth” and to make housing more affordable by doing the same, Wilkinson suggests a Liberal government would open auto insurance to the private sector.
“The rates are just going to keep on rising under the NDP state-run monopoly called ICBC,” he says. “Only the BC Liberals will give BC drivers the choice they deserve, and stop John Horgan from cranking up your auto insurance bill every year.”
The NDP premier’s full name appears four times in the two page document.
Playing to the base
Wilkinson’s letter hits all the expected notes for a party that believes government “should help people get on with their lives and take as little as possible from them in taxes and fees” and whose MLAs hold the majority of seats in the province’s rural and remote northern and Interior regions.
A Liberal government would resolve the “historic crisis in B.C.’s forest sector,” according to the letter. The first step would be deploying the five-point plan pitched by the Liberals’ rural caucus in July. It includes mustering “a government-wide response” to the crisis by forming a working group of cabinet ministers to address it, asking Ottawa for support for retirement-bridging and work-sharing programs for affected workers, and deploying unemployed forestry workers to work on forest fire mitigation projects.
The promise to save the province’s forestry industry is rolled in with a pledge to “stand up proudly” for B.C.’s resource industries.
“We are the only party standing up for rural B.C. and the way of life in communities that the NDP have written off and walked away from,” Wilkinson says.
But urban areas — at least in the Lower Mainland — would not be abandoned by a Liberal government. Wilkinson promises to “make generational investments in transit, roads, and bridges” in order to accommodate the region’s ever-growing population.
Taking aim at NDP policies
A BC Liberal government would “end the NDP’s overpriced deals with their union buddies” — a.k.a. the Community Benefits Agreement framework applied to major infrastructure projects — and scrap the “phony speculation tax,” replacing it with a tax on pre-sale condo flipping, which Wilkinson says will “crack down on real estate speculation without punishing hard-working homeowners.”
While it may be a moot point by 2021, the Liberals would also make sure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is completed and drop any B.C. government court action aimed at obstructing the project.
When it comes to the opioid crisis, a Liberal government would focus on providing more recovery options for addicts. Mental Health and Addictions critic Jane Thornthwaite has accused the NDP government of “focusing almost exclusively on harm reduction” while failing to “properly fund treatment beds” in substance use recovery programs.
“Investing in overdose prevention sites and the distribution of naloxone kits is helping to save lives, but it is not enough to break the cycle of addiction,” Thornthwaite said in a statement released last month.
The Liberals are also making a pitch to ensure pay equity in B.C. — pledging to “fight to make sure that women and men get equal pay for equal work” and touting a private member’s bill proposed by Finance critic Stephanie Cadieux in March 2018, which would require companies with 50 or more employees to report their mean and medium regular pay and bonuses, by gender.