B.C. NDP leader John Horgan in his legislature office.

BC VIEWS: The shape of an NDP government

John Horgan has confirmed the party's position on restricting political donations, bringing in real estate speculation tax

Last week’s column looked at whether the B.C. NDP would embrace the current Canadian political fashion of attempting to borrow and spend the province into prosperity.

I suspect they will, but that’s part of an election platform that won’t likely be revealed too far in advance of the May 2017 election. Financial conditions can change at any time.

But there’s a clear record of what John Horgan’s NDP is committed to, and it’s contained in a series of private members’ bills tabled in the legislature by Horgan and other NDP MLAs this year.

You likely didn’t hear much about these, because opposition legislation is typically dead on arrival. If a majority government likes an opposition idea, it will introduce its own legislation or cabinet order rather than allow opponents to claim credit.

This happened recently with a new requirement for school districts to test their drinking water to see if it meets Health Canada guidelines. A legislative change was first proposed by North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, after schools in Prince Rupert found high levels of lead from a combination of acidic water and old plumbing.

There are a couple of opposition bills that you will hear a lot about in the coming months, after they were quietly but firmly rejected by the Christy Clark government.

Horgan’s Campaign Finance Reform Act is the fifth time the NDP has proposed legislation to ban corporate and union donations to political parties. The NDP has created a multimedia campaign to get “big money” out of B.C. politics, as has been done federally and in other provinces.

Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s flat refusal, and the B.C. Liberal Party’s multi-million dollar advantage in corporate fundraising, will be a key theme.

Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman presented the Government Advertising Act, which would require taxpayer-funded ads to be checked by the Auditor General’s office for partisan content.

That one was DOA too, no surprise since the government’s current series of ads would flunk such a test.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall revived another perennial NDP proposal, the Poverty Reduction and Economic Exclusion Act 2016. This is the demand for a multi-ministry anti-poverty plan with annual goals and reporting of results.

This one appeals to low-information voters, who are receptive to the Vancouver poverty industry’s annual bending of statistics to claim horrendous child poverty is uniquely rampant in B.C.

For actual results, see the recently defeated Manitoba NDP government’s experience with their identical annual plan. Poverty in Manitoba has been eliminated at about the same rate as homelessness in Vancouver, solemnly promised by Mayor Gregor Robertson many years ago.

The NDP is on firmer ground with the Speculator Tracking and Housing Affordability Act, proposed by Horgan to deal with soaring real estate costs that have spread across Metro Vancouver and into other desirable urban locations in B.C.

It aims to identify residential properties that are sitting empty and impose a levy on them, with proceeds going into a “housing affordability fund” to subsidize existing or new housing.

The idea is to tax speculators who are buying and holding properties to take advantage of increasing market value. They could escape the levy by making the property available for rent, or selling it to someone who will live in it.

The B.C. Liberals don’t like that idea, and nor do property developers who donate generously to them. Clark and de Jong argue that the vacancy rate is declining.

This will be one of the crucial issues of the next election.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

It’s showtime: Victoria theatre reopens with new COVID-19 protocols

Capitol 6 theatre and SilverCity Victoria have reopened with limited seating

Rapid bus system could increase frequency, reliability in Greater Victoria

BC Transit studies methods for improving major routes in Capital Region

Victoria Police searching for missing teen

Arianna Mckenzie, 17, last seen July 2

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read