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Opinion
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BC Politics
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Environment

Please Advise! Does the Whole Smoky Hellscape Thing Boost BC Green Chances?

Dr. Steve assesses the provincial party’s new leader and outlook.

Steve Burgess 14 Sep 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

The BC Greens have named their new leader, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau. What do you think the future holds for the party?

Signed,

Greener

Dear Greener,

What a wicked calculation on the part of the BC Greens. In the run-up to Monday’s party leadership vote, the skies over British Columbia turned an evil yellow, massive fires on the U.S. West Coast sending their dark plumes northward, shocking those of us who naively thought the border had been closed. The timing was suspicious. Surely all this was cynically arranged by the Greens to coincide with their leadership event, underlining the importance of their ecological message? It’s true that in the U.S. some QAnon types are saying Antifa set the fires. But that’s just an insane conspiracy theory. Completely nuts. No, Dr. Steve is pretty sure the BC Greens did it.

Furstenau’s rivals were Kim Darwin, a Sechelt businessperson and former provincial Green candidate, and Vancouver professor and activist Cam Brewer. It was a vicious leadership campaign. Street fights were commonplace, libel and slander routine, and the outrages so egregious that all of the campaign managers are now either in hospital or facing felony charges.

Or so Dr. Steve had hoped. In fact, the BC Green leadership campaign was as quiet as the stands at a 2020 NHL playoff game. During the Aug. 21 online debate, one question was, essentially, how do we choose between you when you all agree on everything? From Site C to the LNG industry to old-growth logging, all three candidates harmonized like the Supremes.

Furstenau won with 52.4 per cent on the second ballot — on the first ballot she captured 47.4 per cent to Brewer’s strong 41.35 per cent. It was a surprisingly close race considering Furstenau always looked to be the front-runner. In addition to being one of only two sitting Green MLAs (three if you count former leader Andrew Weaver, now sitting as an independent), Furstenau had the backing of David Suzuki and former national Green leader Elizabeth May. So it was really a case of overkill when Furstenau spent millions on TV ads accusing her rivals of creating the coronavirus in a CIA laboratory and...

Sorry, Dr. Steve was daydreaming again. Nothing like that happened. Sometimes Dr. Steve wishes he was back in Ohio. They really know how to sling the mud down there. In fact, the Green leadership race was all polite and above board. Any dirt in this campaign would have been ethically recycled compost, perfect for gardens and potting soil.

Campaign or no, Green concerns are in the air this week. The smoke from U.S. wildfires is still chokingly thick (and sadly, connoisseurs may be able to distinguish between fresh New Westminster Pier smoke and the imported variety). It has become impossible to tell whether your toast is burning. The practice of going outside for a smoke is now universal.

Whether that translates into Green votes may well be tested sooner than planned. The NDP are riding high in the polls, thanks in part to their cool, competent handling of the pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry may not be an NDP candidate, but she’s definitely been an asset. Premier John Horgan is being notably coy about the possibility of calling a Halloween election rather than waiting for next year as originally scheduled. Getting a campaign going before Furstenau has the chance to get comfortable as leader would be another plus for Horgan and Co. She certainly has the potential to be an attractive and charismatic leader, so why give her a year to prove it?

On the other hand, the BC Greens are hardly a juggernaut. Total votes in the leadership campaign were only 5,478, which might represent a solid turnout for a Third Beach drum circle.

Horgan must gauge the advantages of his current favourability ratings vs. likely public resentment at an early COVID-19 election, a move which would fly in the face of the very reputation for responsibility that has helped bolster NDP popularity.

No, if Dr. Steve had to bet the rent, he would say no provincial election this fall. Should he lose that bet he will vote for whichever party offers an extension on the rent subsidy program. Now if you will excuse him, Dr. Steve is going out for a free smoke.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics, Environment

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