Goals become clearer as election looms
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
The BC NDP has announced two major party decisions in the past month.
The first is an endorsement for an alternate plan to the proposed Massey Bridge, which is being headed by the Liberals, the NDP’s main provincial opposition.
The Massey Bridge plan is a Liberal Party project to replace the old Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta with a 10-lane bridge. The NDP has now officially come out against starting construction on the bridge, siding with the mayors across Metro Vancouver who are opposing the plan.
BC NDP leader John Horgan has said that while they “won’t rule out a bridge,” he wants the party to defer to the mayors’ experience and judgement.
The mayors themselves are arguing for more consultation. Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore told the Globe and Mail that he opposes “the scope of the project, and would like to talk about that point with the provincial government.” The Green Party also opposes the bridge, citing possible damages that traffic will bring to surrounding farmland.
The second announcement from the NDP was that they would not be automatically re-hiring the school board that was fired in 2016 by the Liberals, revoking an earlier pledge to do so.
The entire school board was fired in 2016 by Education Minister Mike Bernier following their failure to pass a required balanced budget. The school board had been split between representatives from the major Vancouver parties, and rejected the final proposed budget due to disagreements around budget cuts and school closures. A later report indicated the school board underwent harassment around these same issues, though the report has been rejected by various teachers’ unions around the city.
This prompted immediate condemnation by Horgan—paired with a promise to restore their positions, a promise that was held until recently.
On March 16, Horgan told The Globe and Mail: “What we have now is a school board that does not have duly elected representatives—and I think that’s wrong and we should fix that.”
The NDP have now stepped away from that promise.
In an interview with the Georgia Straight, NDP education critic Rob Fleming said they “hoped that [the Liberal Party] would back down,” indicating that this was a political maneuver to force the Liberals into rehiring the board. Fleming stated that a by-election for the Vancouver School Board will be called after the NDP takes power.
The two moves show that the NDP is ramping up their run for provincial leadership by specifically taking stances against the incumbent Christy Clark. Clark’s Liberal Party represents the NDP’s biggest challenge on election day.