Wednesday December 22, 2010

BC Politics

Green Party's Christmas Top Ten Wish List

Lowering the voting age has always been a Green idea

Submitted by Rebecca Helps/Voice Xmas photo rendering


reen Party of BC invites BC Liberals leadership candidates to borrow more of our ideas. "Mike de Jong's suggestion that we lower the voting age to 16 because of our concern about declining voter participation, particularly among eligible younger voters. We figure that if we could get them started voting while they are still in school, they might become habitual voters.

Below we offer our top ten suggestions of other Green Party policy we'd like to see the BC Liberal leadership candidates adopt. After all, doing the right thing doesn't have to be partisan.

"Ten - fix the HST. We recommend that the BC Liberals immediately reinstate the exemptions to goods, services and fees to the provincial portion of the HST that we had under PST. This would provide immediate relief to the restaurant industry and to the new home builders who are in limbo until the referendum. The Liberals should then promise to re-establish provincial control over taxation as soon as they can do so without federal government penalties. If people are still angry, they could do as Kevin Falcon has suggested and lower the overall rate by one or two percentage points. But they need to be honest with British Columbians about how they will replace the lost tax revenues if they do so. As well, they must agree to continue the protections for low income British Columbians.

"Nine - promise to end corporate and union donations to political parties; to cap individual donations and to limit donations to residents of BC. British Columbians will not trust any political party that is funded by special interest groups. As long as big corporate money continues to fund the BC Liberals and big union money the BC NDP, voters will remain cynical about who controls the province.

"Eight - listen to your independent officers and do what they say. The people of BC trust the child advocate, the auditor general and the other government watchdogs, not you. If the minister and the deputy minister are an impediment to doing what is right, replace them with people who will listen and work with the overseer.

"Seven - restore arts funding with a formula that provides for stable and predictable money. There is a preception that the arts and culture community was to get one-third of the gambling revenue. While George Abbott has committed to restoring funding to the 2008 level, this is still not good enough. All of the leadership hopefuls should commit to and be willing to formalize the one-third level of funding for arts and culture and they need to find mechanisms for ensuring the money is distributed free from political interference.

"Six - commit to a measurable poverty reduction strategy - Greens would prefer a poverty elimination strategy but we'll accept a lesser first step. Every other province has a plan and we need to learn from them. BC Greens' preferred strategy is to guarantee a basic income and we recommend the next premier talk about this option with the federal government as they re-negotiate the transfer payments.

"Five - reduce executive salaries. British Columbians accept that executives of government owned corporations and senior professional staff should make a reasonable income but salaries of $500,000 to over a million are not acceptable in the public sector. We would like to see ratios set so that the salary of the highest paid employee is tied to that of the lowest paid employee. A ratio of 10 to one would mean that if the lowest paid employee makes $30,000 a year, the CEO could not make more than $300,000. BC Greens know we can get competent, effective CEOs at public sector rates.

"Four - recommit to effective climate change strategies. The BC Liberals showed leadership in recognizing that we must put as price on carbon when they introduced their modest and inadequate carbon tax. Falcon musing about capping the tax and the business community pressuring the leadership hopefuls to take a U turn are not good signs. We need bolder and more aggressive strategies if we are going to tackle climate change and transform to a low carbon economy. Falcon said fatherhood had made him consider the conditions he would leave his daughter. Not dealing with climate change and expanding the oil and gas sector suggests that Falcon doesn't understand the ramifications of run-away climate destabilization.

"Three - develop a plan for renewable energy. BC should be a geothermal powerhouse and we could equal the investment that Denmark has made in wind energy and that California and Germany have made in solar. Instead, they equate further hydro development with "green" energy which in most instances is untrue. And then, they discourage energy companies with established renewable technologies with ineffective calls for clean power and a daunting and completely unreasonable approval process. BC has seen two tidal companies leave the province in the past few years and geothermal companies are ready to give up.

"Two - fix policing. The leadership candidates would do well to listen to their colleague Kash Heed and to read the 1994 report by former AG Wally Oppal on policing. The people in BC are justifiably concerned about our policing structure. What better time to change the model than when we are re-negotiating with the RCMP and when virtually every major-city police chief is saying we need a better regional and provincial strategy.

"One - commit to using the same voting system that is being used to elect the next Liberal leader in BC general elections. It is ironic that the BC Liberal leadership race is being run under a preferential ballot system that protects rural voters. Except for Christy Clark who strongly supported BC STV in the 2009 referendum the BC Liberals were deliberately silent on electoral reform. Surely, what's good for the Liberals is good for the people of BC. Where do you stand now Christy?

"We could offer other suggestions but that is our top ten "David Letterman" list for now," concluded Sterk

About the Green Party of BC

The Green Party of BC is the only major party in BC today with no debt. A Green economy would run on the principles of triple-bottom-line accounting, rewarding organizations and individuals that practise environmental, social and economic sustainability and aligning government expenditure decisions with citizens' wishes.



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