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

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

Turn your clocks back: Daylight Saving time ends Sunday

Don’t forget to turn back your clock, change your batteries

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Loggers pull door off wreckage to get to Cariboo crash victim

“It’s an absolute miracle the man’s alive.”

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

‘Targeted incident’ leads to death of Quesnel man

One man died of life-threatening injuries on Nov. 8

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Most Read