In the grand scheme of all things political, many would still consider me a political neophyte. I didn’t take political science and my experience working in politics is limited to handling the public relations for an independent municipal candidate in Surrey’s last election.
That being said, I think my background has served me well in investigating and researching stories as well as analyzing the state of affairs in British Columbia, and not only with respect to my educational or professional experience, but also because of my personal history.
Long time readers will know that I was born in Prince George and grew up in a very rural area outside the city itself. My family has, for the most part, worked in forestry as long as I can remember. My dad works in a pulp mill, my uncles and brother in a sawmill and many family friends are loggers, feller-bunchers etc. I spent one entire summer living in a tent trailer with my mom and brother in Hudsons Hope, while my dad worked on the dam up there and my grandfather,who passed a few years ago, worked in Bullmoose mine, a coal mine at Tumbler Ridge.
I know firsthand how precious this place really is,how vast and wild and untouched. In many ways, I feel as deeply connected to this province as a person could possibly be, the land is in my blood much like my genetic makeup.
My playgrounds weren’t in parks, they were in the boreal forest around my family home. I would go outside after breakfast in the morning, check my toads… this is a story in itself… and then wander the yard and road searching for agates,salamanders, berries, or whatever else would piqué my curiosity, which was and is, insatiable.
My friends while I was young, weren’t always kids at school, but my brother, our family dog, and the wildlife we grew up with. Moose and bear were as common as rats and squirrels are here on the coast, and far more respected. We spent every weekend either camping, going for long random drives on forestry roads in the back 40, or in preparation for the long winters, fishing, hunting and stacking cords of wood. I learned more about life growing up this way than you could learn in any school.
Ironically, my parents taught me that to be polite, you never talked about three things : religion, how much money someone made( or didn’t) and politics.
Again, as long time readers will attest… we know how that turned out!!
Looking back at my high school annual, it was clear even then that I wasn’t quite like the rest of my classmates. I had a wanderlust even then that surpassed my humble roots even though they served me well, and wanted to be a foreign correspondent, dodging bullets in a far off land, thanks to reports on the news from Christiane Amanpour.
Life had other plans for me however, but looking back, no regrets at the longer road I have taken to where I am now, and nothing but complete and total respect for my roots in the north remains.
Without my past, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and wouldn’t feel the way I do about this province. For me, B.C. is family, as much as my father, brother or anyone else. And like you might say to a family member… : “I have your back, B.C.”
Now that you know where I’ve come from, let me share where I think we are now.
To be honest, I’m very concerned about where the labels assigned to political leanings have taken us. What I am seeing in the press and among regular people on social media, is a compete discounting of any ideas, policies, or changes.. based not on the merit of those items… but based on the label assigned to the person it originated from. Frankly, it’s a bit frustrating because in the end, it is the voters of this province that suffer the most from all these partisan politics.
I guess if you had to label me, I would be a leftie with a small L. But when it comes to finances, I am very conservative and I say that not to indicate the party, but that I think government needs to be really, very cautious when spending public money. But if you say you are a fiscal conservative, well, frankly, in some left factions, the world comes to an end.
Likewise, if you are a rightie BC liberal, and actually care about poverty and education and civil rights, you again cause worlds to collide.
Sadly though, for so many covering and living politics in BC, as soon as the label LEFT or RIGHT appears, the ears and mind close to anything further. Doesn’t matter if the NDP have a good idea, the Libs or Cons will never accept or acknowledge it. And God forbid those socialist NDP’ers come up with a good idea, because as Bill Bennett will tell you, they are a bunch of Commies.
So what the hell does a person like myself, who is sick of party politics, but is “left” on some issues, “Right” on others to do?
Hell if I know!!
It’s appalling to me on so many levels that public and political discourse has come to this in BC, leaving so many people discontent, unengaged and bereft of a political home because of partisan politics. Both the Liberal and NDP leaders have spoken about bringing change, and bringing people back to politics, but I am just not seeing it.
Clearly, BC does want change. 12 years of the BC Liberals have left us with a mountain of debt and ‘contractual obgligations’ that are far above and beyond what she who must not be named, claims, and it actually pisses me off to hear her talk about how horrible the NDP will be and how big their deficits will be.
Likewise, this entire ‘Change for the better, one practical step at a time’ spiel coming from the NDP? It is getting a bit old, in particular when I hear Ralston, or Dix, or anyone else talking about how they need to see what the Libs left them, before they know how bad it is.
Reality check? The information is available to the NDP as it is the Liberals or anyone else, to see what the financial state is of our province. Renowned former transportation economist Erik Andersen has done extensive work on this. And I am still not sure why the NDP have not done full FOI’s on many issues, or why others were dropped, but not being a party member, I don’t know.
I do know this. When Clark talks about her families first crap, the people of BC actually want to see policy that is families first.
The working poor in BC, don’t want to see $11 million Bollywood infomercials, they want to see something that will help them feed their kids, pay their bills and stay in a warm home. They don’t want to hear about an RESP that they need a bank account and good credit to open in most banks, when they can’t damn well feed their kids or buy them a birthday gift.
When Dix talks about bringing people back to politics, he forgets that those people want more than excessive gesticulation, vague answers and rhetoric. Yes, yes we want change… but let me tell you this. Far too many people in this province are going to be voting NDP not because they believe in them…but simply to try and get rid of the Liberals.
When people read that the NDP took corporate donations from Enbridge or EnCana, or as we just found out, asked for donations specifically from Liberal donors à la feel good Tony Soprano style, they gag. They curse. They ask themselves, who the hell do we vote for now?
Change, simply for the sake of change, or because you are the lesser of two evils, is not exactly a win to be proud of. Like getting a job because a company has to meet their quota of female workers, sure you made it to the finish line, but technically, it was by default.
I’ll tell you what I think. It isn’t the nastiness of political races that turns people off – if that were the case, why were so many Canadians engaged in the litter box of the US presidential race? Although many won’t admit it, they like the smears, the insults, the nasty mud-slinging. But like many won’t admit watching Manswers like our premier has, it’s still true.
What turns people off more than slinging mud, is absolute blind partisanship – period.
“My party can’t do any wrong.” is the attitude that really offends anyone with a reasonable IQ, and many average people see this displayed on twitter, Facebook and in the news. Yes, people make mistakes. Strategists make mistakes. Political parties make mistakes.
Acknowledge them, admit them, apologize and make things right if that needs to occur. Basic kindergarten stuff, people. Pretending you didn’t make a mistake, or defending it, just makes it worse. Claiming the left can’t come up with a good idea because they are left, is just as stupid as claiming the right have no good ideas either, and this is just part of why independent candidates are surging ahead in different ridings.
We are at a crucial juncture in this province, where we have a brief window of time to save our forests, and forest industry. Where we can protect our environment for future generations and develop sustainable resource management policy. Where we can really do something to fix the fact we have thousands of children in poverty, going hungry, and people with special needs who’ve been neglected and ignored for years.
Where we can decide the future of our province, and the direction we want to pursue, is more important than a race between parties to grab the premier’s seat and thumb their nose at the opposition.
It’s time to really, and truly, put people before politics, people before power and party agenda’s and do what is right… not merely what is left or right.
Anything less, is unacceptable.