The Party of No can’t seem to say yes

A chance encounter with a Prince George fly fisherman on the Quinsam River has encouraged me to reflect on what lies ahead...

A chance encounter with a Prince George fly fisherman on the Quinsam River has encouraged me to reflect on what lies ahead if we prove the pollsters right and elect the New Democrats next May.

Our conversation started with the Interior visitor’s complaint about the high price of gasoline on Vancouver Island. Of course I had to fuel his outrage with my thoughts on the government’s punitive carbon tax.

Soon our discussion came to the NDP’s current status as a government-in-waiting and that made my Quinsam River friend spitting mad. As if it was yesterday, he recalled that the NDP government of the 1990s could have prevented the deadly rampage of the mountain pine beetle and spared B.C. billions in resource damages. Instead, the NDP failed to take action because it would have meant violating one of its sacred environmental canons.

The beetle infestation was first detected in Tweedsmuir provincial park and could have been contained there if forest companies had been permitted to go into the park and selectively log infested areas. The government said no, nature must take its course. The sanctity of the park boundaries would not be violated on the NDP’s watch. The battle against the beetle would only start when the multiplying insects had eaten their way out of the park and started in on timber land to the east.

In effect, thanks to NDP chromosomal intransigence, the war against the pine beetle was lost before it even started.

My Prince George companion reminded me of a fundamental truth about the NDP: The Party of No does not know how to say yes to common sense. The pine beetle fiasco demonstrated a chronic failure to understand that governance demands flexibility, that there is a time to put away the Red Book and govern outside the safety of socialist doctrine.

I’m sure my NDP friends will chide me for returning to the 1990s for such an example of their inability to adapt to real life governing experience. Fair enough. Let’s look at an example in the here and now.

Last week, I took the Liberals to task for their Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a greenhouse gas (GHG) fighting Crown corporation that takes precious education and health tax dollars and dispenses them as corporate welfare to business barons.

The NDP should be all over this. It’s a left wing no-brainer. Giving Canfor a tax-generated handout to implement green business practices should be just as politically offensive to the NDP as killing little beetles on the sanctified side of a provincial park boundary.

In fact, NDP leader Adrian Dix has managed only sabre rattling when it comes to the Trust. Rather than call for the Crown corporation to be dismantled, he has called for “a fix” and the details are few and far between.

I suspect “premier” Dix will indulge in a little ideological shape shifting and use the Trust to finance whacky GHG schemes that could never fly unassisted. Green corporations will be popping out of the woodwork with shaggy dog projects similar to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s 55,000-hectare Darkwoods project in the Kootenays, which recently received a healthy welfare cheque from PCT for simply letting its forests grow.

I fear a 2013 government will behave very much like the 1990s version that was ravaged at the polls after a decade of incompetence. M

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