Opinion Column

The Duel

Anger brewing in unaffordable B.C.

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

Condo towers under construction in Burnaby, B.C., Friday, April 14, 2017. (Jason Payne/Postmedia)

Condo towers under construction in Burnaby, B.C., Friday, April 14, 2017. (Jason Payne/Postmedia)

Topics

This week's question: Should the NDP soften its tone to win over B.C. voters?

Under the B.C. Liberals, who are actually quite conservative, the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us has become a yawning chasm. For most, it has become harder to make ends meet. This demands fundamental change, not a softer tone. The NDP can win by running on their social democratic, working-class roots. Campaigning from the mushy neo-liberal middle would be a losing strategy.

B.C. needs to share the wealth and the NDP’s platform is a start. It includes: rebates for renters, building social housing, increasing the minimum wage, $10-a-day childcare and tuition caps.

But B.C. Liberal Housing Minister Rich Coleman is laissez-faire about it: “My advice to my teens, start saving for the down payment.”

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

With million-dollar homes, stagnant or declining wages and big student loans – good luck, kids.

Last week, Premier Christy Clark built on this train of thought at the leaders’ debate.

“You know what you need to be able to afford a house? You need a job,” she said.

Yet, unemployment is up everywhere but the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

B.C. Liberals' “Bright Future” campaign is all triumphant major chords, struck hard and repeatedly. But the future is only bright for the top 10% who now own the majority of B.C.’s wealth. The bottom half have 3.1%. This is no accident. B.C.’s “free enterprise party” has brought us a new Gilded Age of real estate barons and resource tycoons.

The Clark government has stalled in the face of a public health emergency. Since the 2013 election, around 2,490 people have died from overdose in B.C.

Yet, B.C. Liberals have failed to roll out needed programs, such as heroin assisted treatment. The NDP needs to come out swinging but its platform is vague on this issue.

B.C. Liberals say the NDP promises will create huge deficits. The NDP says it’ll balance the budget. I’m not so worried about deficits. Politicians have been trying to stampede voters with deficit fear mongering since the 1990s. But voters are more concerned about their own personal debt, deepening amid government cuts and deregulation.

The NDP lost in 2013 because its campaign was too mild. During last week’s leaders’ debate, Premier Clark said “Calm down, John” after NDP leader John Horgan interrupted her a number of times.

Horgan should curb the interruptions. But it’s good to see some anger. If anything we need more of that. It’s what voters are feeling.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins.