Dear Sisters and Brothers,
First, I must congratulate you on your successful efforts to defeat one of the worst governments in the history of this province. Much of my political life has been spent fighting the BC Liberals and their regressive agenda. It was therefore a pleasure to be back home in B.C. when news broke that their government had finally fallen. It is a new day in British Columbia, where the NDP-Green coalition has taken the reigns, but all the old issues still remain.
It must of course be recognized that the NDP campaigned on a strong progressive platform, including a fifteen dollar minimum wage, a child-care program, and real action on climate change. This certainly played a role in mobilizing working class people to kick the Liberals out. With this in mind, it would be easy for activists to step back and say, “Our work here is done.” This would be a terrible mistake.
Yet it seems a certain sense of complacency sets in anytime the NDP is elected anywhere in this country. Labour leaders and activists who spent years fighting the bosses and their governments then turn around to the members and say “Don’t rock the boat! We have a worker-friendly government!”
I remember the 90s. I remember the relentless attacks on the NDP government from the ruling class of this province. I remember the right-wing media attacks, the bogus police raids, the investment strike, the smear campaigns… and it has already begun anew. From the moment it became clear the Liberals would not be able to stay in office, a deafening hue and cry came from the media, who were aghast that “the socialists” were back. And it will continue.
This government will come under tremendous pressure from right-wing forces in British Columbia. That is to be expected. But the mistake the left often makes is to circle the wagons and defend the government — at any cost. The simple, often-missed truth is that — with all the noise coming from businesses, media outlets, right-wing think tanks, boards of commerce and other shills — it is easy for a government to buckle under the pressure. They’ll fold faster than you can say “fast ferries.”
British Columbia is fraught with problems. Working class people are being squeezed for every penny. The cost of living has become unbearably high for ordinary people. This will not change unless we mobilize and fight. An NDP government opens many doors, but we have to walk through them ourselves.
If we allow this well-intentioned government to be pushed around by the forces of capital, it will be a short-lived government indeed. No matter what agreements have been made, an election could come at any time. If the people of this province do not see and feel real change, they will not be there when the next election rolls around. And this is exactly what big business is banking on. Now is not the time to sit back and wait for deliverance from a benevolent government; there is no such thing.
If we want to see this government affect change, we have to make sure they get just as much pressure from the left. We have to continue to mobilize in the streets and on the picket lines. We have to escalate the fight for social, environmental and economic justice. We have to make sure that the government delivers on its promises, and then push it even further.
This is the only way we will keep right-wing forces at bay. And this is the only way we will see the changes we want to see in our province.
The Struggle Continues.