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New Year, New You

Resolutions for all three major party leaders

In B.C.’s political arena, 2017 was a year of uncertainty, spectacular change, and discomfort. The BC Liberals lost their long-time leader and Premier, and the NDP-Green alliance took the shaky first steps of their arranged marriage.

2018 has seen a bit more stability, with Andrew Wilkinson cementing his status as Opposition Leader, John Horgan slowly revealing himself as old school NDP, and Andrew Weaver proving time and time again he is a predictable paper tiger against his bosses in the premier’s office.

But the stability and longevity of our institutions continue to face a questionable future. The fiasco in the Speaker’s office and a resounding victory for the No campaign the proportional representation referendum both lend credence to the prospect of a (very) early provincial election.

All in all, 2019 is shaping up to be another exciting – and unpredictable – year.

So what New Year’s resolutions should our leaders be crafting as they head into the relaxing lull of the Christmas season?

For the BC Liberals, starting the year strong with a public commitment to a specific and impactful province-wide policy initiative.

This would continue the momentum the party has been experiencing, boost their prospects in the crucial Nanaimo byelection, and build genuine anticipation for the full platform.

As they hedged their bets on the referendum, the party sought out a bold stance that skews right – presumably to stop the bleed that might have occurred on the party’s conservative wing if the referendum passed.

In his convention speech, Wilkinson alluded to two in particular – an overhaul of ICBC, and strengthening the private sector through free-enterprise tax policy. Either or both reaffirms the message that the BC Liberals are mindful of people’s hard-earned dollars, and they don’t believe you can tax your way to prosperity. What’s needed now are the specifics.

For the NDP, they can’t ignore the fact January 1st means double taxation through the new Employers Health Tax. The NDP are honouring their commitment to phase out MSP in 2020, while simultaneously punishing employers by collecting both MSP and EHT until then.

If the NDP won’t stop this punitive policy (and they won’t) their resolution should be to offer job-creators further relief in the budget. For no other reason, to help perpetuate the myth of NDP moderation next time at the polls.

The BC Greens have been justifiably criticized over their unwillingness to stand up to the NDP on everything from the speculation tax to ridesharing. With the referendum in the rear-view mirror, they find themselves with a second chance to credibly assert their position of strength.

Weaver recently suggested he wants to renegotiate CASA going into the new year. He should at least try – publicly. The timing makes sense; Weaver and his party suddenly have less incentive to cozy up to the NDP and more motivation to secure at least one or two wins going into the next election.

As Green advocacy failed on Site C and LNG, a victory in the resource development or green tech space would certainly remind Green voters why their three MLAs are, in fact, there.

If New Year’s resolutions were easy, 80% of them wouldn’t fail by the second week of February. The number one reason they fail is lack of immediate reward.

I imagine a writ drop will raise the incentive.


Katy Merrifield was B.C.’s youngest and first female director of a successful major party leadership campaign. She also served as Director of Communications under Premier Christy Clark, Strategic Advisor to Andrew Wilkinson and Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party.