Left-Right Politics in British Columbia

It used to be much easier in the hyper-partisan arena of British Columbia politics. With just two parties in the legislature representing the “left” and “right”, decisions were black and white. With the emergence of the Greens, politics in B.C. is not so easy any more.

With the success of the federal, provincial and municipal Greens proving our ability to work well at the table, the old paradigm has changed.

Deeply entrenched partisans on both sides of the fence watch Green votes closely, and depending on the decision, they pounce on us, calling us closet Liberals or closet NDPers. We are not either: Greens are Greens. We are only responsible for the quality of our decisions to the electorate. Therefore, we don’t defend those decisions in a “left vs. right” context as the debate has been framed in the past.

Greens have always urged the political world to remove the shackles of partisanship and “left vs. right”, and instead make thoughtful, well-reasoned, evidence-based decisions. We encourage each other to think in terms of making a “correct” decision on behalf of the people they represent, rather than a “left” or “right” one.

Green decision-makers carry their own burden and they must be prepared to defend their decisions. We are deconstructing the political status quo in British Columbia because we do not subscribe to the 20th century partisan perspectives that have restrained good-governance over the past decades.

Greens have strong principles; those principles are attracting thousands of British Columbians. I am meeting new Greens every day and they are sharing their unique political journey with me. For the most part, they have left other political parties in search of a new way of governing. They did not abandon their principles when they left their party, they have brought their principles with them, and they are easily finding their space in the Green community.

In just a few short years, starting with Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands, Greens have proven that we are not a wasted vote and that one or two voices at the table can have a profound effect. We envision a time when the table is balanced and the people in the seats are working collaboratively on behalf of all British Columbians.

Despite hyper-partisans' efforts to characterize Greens as one thing or another, they should know that we are not defined by what they think of us or whether our position was too “left” or too “right” in the prescriptive and narrow view of the decision-making of old.

Greens are defined by a personal responsibility to the community, the quality of decisions we make and our ability to defend those decisions. We are not responsible for the success or failure of other political entities, and Greens are committed to earning the respect of voters.

Decisions should not be made based on what people on the “other side” think or say about us. It is that kind of decision-making that has put our communities and our province in the mess that they are in now. We will succeed if we continue to focus on finding solutions to problems, rather than playing a political game designed to advance our partisan interests.

We want a diversified, 21st century economy with prudent fiscal management. We want a government that looks after people, provides compassion, love and support for those who need it. We want healthy and resilient ecosystems, because we value the environment. We believe British Columbians agree.

But politics as a whole in British Columbia have not yet delivered this and that is why voters are looking at their ballots and deciding it’s time for a new type of leadership.

Adam Olsen

Stellys Cross Road, Brentwood Bay, BC, V8M 1J7