General News · 7th January 2011
The Leadership elections in both of our leading political parties are gearing up with the BC Liberals voting in February and the BC NDP on April 17th. It will be a brave New Year with the distinct prospect of change and renewal to the political landscape.
Leadership contenders, past and present, say that one of the joys of running is that it enables a politician to say what they really believe in, and to have it widely heard. As a member of a political party you subscribe to overarching common values. In the NDP a fundamental basic value is equity – traditionally in terms of social and economic issues but increasingly this has been embracing environmental values too.
I will be challenging those running for leader on their interpretation of this fundamental principle. I am a firm believer that equity is achieved through redistribution. I believe in a progressive tax system in which those who earn more, pay more.
Equity can be achieved through social tools: through a strong social safety net through which no-one is allowed to slip. I will ask candidates whether they are willing to ensure our welfare system works in the realities of the 21st century, that benefits reflect the cost of living and are not designed, as now, to force people into poverty. And I will challenge them to assess a massive investment in public and co-op housing across the province which would provide an economic boost and address a dire social need.
Public education is a great way of assisting people in all societies. BC has a great school system, but I would ask candidates whether they are prepared to look at three key factors: a comprehensive early learning and care programme for families with children too young for school; changing the funding formula to ensure rural schools can provide equality in education; and, that post secondary education be provided free to BC residents on the proviso that a graduate commits to working in the province for five years.
Healthcare is always the bogeyman when it comes to public costs and I will ask how the candidates will address the cost issue logically to ensure the integrity of our public system is maintained and that it benefits everyone in the province. That may mean looking at the introduction of more health centres with all medical staff on salary; it could mean using new technologies to reduce people’s need to travel for care; and, it could mean expanding the use of nurse practitioners.
BC is a resource rich province – we traditionally have made money from the wealth of our environment. But I would hope that everyone is aware that we can not treat our environment simply as a commodity. Without securing and safeguarding our environment we have no future. I will challenge the candidates on how they intend to address climate change, food security and environmental practices. I will ask them how they will work with communities to make the necessary shift to new ways of living and doing business which makes a smaller carbon footprint.
Likewise I will be wanting to hear whether the candidates agree that public resources should be held in public hands and used for the public good. For me that means our forests, our ferries, our rivers, our hydro production and distribution. It means assessing what we hold in crown lands and what those crown lands contain both above and below ground. It means acknowledging that benefits from the exploitation of our resources accrue to the people of BC not just to the shareholders of large corporations and income trusts.
There are many problems facing our communities, worker’ rights have been eroded, seniors are struggling, families daily face difficulties, businesses are dealing with a myriad of concerns. A leader of a political party who may become Premier needs to have ideas on how to rectify these issues. But a leader also needs a vision and the courage to act on that vision. It is a huge responsibility – but an exciting time.
I will be in Sointula and Alert Bay this weekend and then working around the Campbell River area in the coming week; the following week takes me to Victoria. I can always be reached at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, at 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 250 902 0325 in Port Hardy or toll free at 1 866 387 5100.