Opinion Column

The Duel

'Emergency situation' demands end to billionaires’ government

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is seen in a file photo.  (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is seen in a file photo. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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This week's question: Should British Columbians turn left or stay right on Election Day?

“They talk, we die”  is a popular slogan on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during the B.C. election campaign.

Since the 2013 election, thousands have died from overdose, affecting all communities across the province. Four people will die on Election Day alone. But you wouldn’t know it from the campaign.

Christy Clark’s response to this emergency has been tepid. Some money has gone to policing. But handcuffs and jails won’t stop the deaths.

The twin wrecking balls of unaffordable housing and fentanyl overdose arc through our communities, leaving behind the evicted and the dead. A friend I’d known since we were both teenagers said Vancouver has become “a city of ghosts and lost things.”

She died of an overdose last year.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

The B.C. Liberals fuelled the housing catastrophe, where condos are traded like stocks and everybody else will just have to move. Clark’s promise of 100,000 good jobs vaporized, like liquefied natural gas at room temperature. She gives secret tax breaks to big banks and transnational corporations, which produce few jobs in return. Big donations seem to come from political appointees.

Clark’s race to the bottom is not sound fiscal management. Radical inequality is not good for the economy. On Tuesday, voters need to triple delete this government.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver is Christy-light, saying, "in terms of the economic plan, our position is much closer to the [B.C.] Liberals than the NDP."

In ridings outside of southern Vancouver Island, voting Green only helps ensure a Clark victory.

Musqueam’s Cecilia Point says B.C. is in “an emergency situation.” She joined other indigenous leaders in urging voters to back candidates who can defeat B.C. Liberals.

I practice harm reduction at the ballot box. It’s a concept borrowed from drug policy that aims to reduce negative impacts on the individual and the community. The harm here is caused by the architects of these crises. The way to reduce it is by voting them out.

Presidents, prime ministers and premiers are not our white knights. At elections, we choose rulers and bosses - not saviours. As writer and activist Rebecca Solnit says: "Voting is a chess move, not a valentine."

Under the B.C. Liberals, the province has become a corporate client state. The NDP’s platform on housing, childcare, wages, welfare and education would start to repair the damage.

But after Election Day, we need to keep the pressure on — regardless of who wins.

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