B.C. NDP leader John Horgan in his legislature office.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan in his legislature office.

BC VIEWS: The shape of an NDP government

John Horgan has confirmed the party's position on restricting political donations, bringing in real estate speculation tax

Last week’s column looked at whether the B.C. NDP would embrace the current Canadian political fashion of attempting to borrow and spend the province into prosperity.

I suspect they will, but that’s part of an election platform that won’t likely be revealed too far in advance of the May 2017 election. Financial conditions can change at any time.

But there’s a clear record of what John Horgan’s NDP is committed to, and it’s contained in a series of private members’ bills tabled in the legislature by Horgan and other NDP MLAs this year.

You likely didn’t hear much about these, because opposition legislation is typically dead on arrival. If a majority government likes an opposition idea, it will introduce its own legislation or cabinet order rather than allow opponents to claim credit.

This happened recently with a new requirement for school districts to test their drinking water to see if it meets Health Canada guidelines. A legislative change was first proposed by North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, after schools in Prince Rupert found high levels of lead from a combination of acidic water and old plumbing.

There are a couple of opposition bills that you will hear a lot about in the coming months, after they were quietly but firmly rejected by the Christy Clark government.

Horgan’s Campaign Finance Reform Act is the fifth time the NDP has proposed legislation to ban corporate and union donations to political parties. The NDP has created a multimedia campaign to get “big money” out of B.C. politics, as has been done federally and in other provinces.

Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s flat refusal, and the B.C. Liberal Party’s multi-million dollar advantage in corporate fundraising, will be a key theme.

Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman presented the Government Advertising Act, which would require taxpayer-funded ads to be checked by the Auditor General’s office for partisan content.

That one was DOA too, no surprise since the government’s current series of ads would flunk such a test.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall revived another perennial NDP proposal, the Poverty Reduction and Economic Exclusion Act 2016. This is the demand for a multi-ministry anti-poverty plan with annual goals and reporting of results.

This one appeals to low-information voters, who are receptive to the Vancouver poverty industry’s annual bending of statistics to claim horrendous child poverty is uniquely rampant in B.C.

For actual results, see the recently defeated Manitoba NDP government’s experience with their identical annual plan. Poverty in Manitoba has been eliminated at about the same rate as homelessness in Vancouver, solemnly promised by Mayor Gregor Robertson many years ago.

The NDP is on firmer ground with the Speculator Tracking and Housing Affordability Act, proposed by Horgan to deal with soaring real estate costs that have spread across Metro Vancouver and into other desirable urban locations in B.C.

It aims to identify residential properties that are sitting empty and impose a levy on them, with proceeds going into a “housing affordability fund” to subsidize existing or new housing.

The idea is to tax speculators who are buying and holding properties to take advantage of increasing market value. They could escape the levy by making the property available for rent, or selling it to someone who will live in it.

The B.C. Liberals don’t like that idea, and nor do property developers who donate generously to them. Clark and de Jong argue that the vacancy rate is declining.

This will be one of the crucial issues of the next election.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read