by Joseph Roberts
Sixty-five years is a lifetime without a minority government in BC. Now we have, just by the slimmest of margins, one! It is 41 NDP and 3 Greens vs. 43 Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly.
A blessed granddaughter was born the day of the election. And like a new born baby this relationship between the Orange and Green needs TLC and nourishing. We dedicate this edition of Common Ground to all of us finding common ground to grow a better democracy.
This is not the first Orange and Green agreement, but certainly the first here in BC.
The Irish tricolour flag (Irish: bratach na hÉireann) is Green White Orange. The green represents the older Gaelic tradition while the orange represents the supporters of William of Orange. The white in the centre signifies the lasting truce between the ‘Orange’ and the ‘Green’.
The Quare Fellas sang The Orange and the Green in 1960’s, later sung by the The Irish Rovers. The song’s lyrics tell the humorous story of a lad born into a mixed religious and political family.
“My father he was Orange and me mother she was Green” the son born of a Protestant dad and a Catholic mom. “My father was an Ulster man, proud Protestant was he. My mother was a Catholic girl, from county Cork was she.” It brought a smile to my heart, you can listen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=63m-6zxfUyE
Making peace and forming agreements takes courage, creativity and also forgiveness in order to make our lives better.
We have friends in both the New Democratic and the Green parties. Prior to the election there was a lot of friction and animosity. Suspicion and animus raged between the two parties now in agreement. A number of NDP’ers were troubled by the Greens because they saw them as splitting the vote and keeping them out of power against the neo-liberals. Some Greens disliked the NDP.
Both sides have their stories to tell, their blame games, and their personal pains. No person or party in this situation is perfect, but then perfection can get in the way of progress. To have a progressive, democratic, environmentally aware governance of BC things had to progress.
The Greens have a lot to learn from the NDP and the NDP have a lot to learn from the Greens. Rekindled appreciation and respect will allow this now.
For 16 years the extractive capitalist and the donor class of the ruling Liberal-Conservative-Socred coalition, renamed BC Liberals, had free-rein to feed the profits from our land to the 1% while the middle working class watched powerlessly as Gordon Campbell-Christy Clark governments sold our province to the highest bidder. Big money ruled the body politic. There was no proportional representation. 39% of the vote took 100% of the power from the people, leaving 61% with no real representation.
We had taxation and exploitation without fair proportional representation. The NDP felt the impotence of sitting across from a ruling party that voted down any progressive motion they presented, such as taking big money out of politics which was crushed by their first-past-the-post (FPTP) overlords.
The sting was personal for John Horgan and the NDP who previously voted against electoral reform when the Single Transferable Vote STV referendum was offered.
Since then, the NDP realized while sitting in opposition how FPTP condemned them to democratic poverty with no real power against a BC Liberal majority government who, with only 39% of the popular vote, pushed through egregious legislation and slashed health, social or education budgets.
After watching the Christy Clark train-wreck in slow motion, they have realized that in order to have a government for the people the system has to be unrigged from the infrastructure and process that served the Liberals donor class. Get big money the hell out of politics and instill a proportional representation electoral process.
The Greens had already built these two principles into their platform and so the common ground was in place for John Horgan and Andrew Weaver to cooperate in order to better serve the people of BC.
And the magic happened. A minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power! The first time in Canada’s history. So, we stand before this amazing opportunity to bring real democracy and fairness into the governance of BC.
It has been said that when the people lead the politicians will follow. And the only real safe place for democracy is in the hearts and minds of the people themselves. So lets take out some life insurance for this new and fragile unity by getting to know each other whether you are Orange or Green.
We at Common Ground invite the members of the NDP Party and the Green Party to actually party together and meet each other face to face, share food and joy.
Of course, all are welcome who voted Green or Orange to come out and really get to know each other.
We really have more in common than we know. It is through connecting in person that friendship is built. With direct experience of each other we can develop the necessary trust to grow strong. Let’s be resistant to the divide and conquer techniques of the previous FPTP divisive electoral rules. Yes, we can move beyond hostile partisanship into a joint appreciation. We can cooperate together and better operate the levers of political power through a fairer, more democratic process to serve the 99% rather than just the 1%.
This may seem radical but at one time it was deemed radical to have women vote, or, it was unthinkable if one was a slave, to be truly free. Such is the moment we live in now.
But our effort did not end when we cast our single vote. Rather, the recent election has given us this golden opportunity. Now let’s solidify our goodwill. We can reverse the economic and environment damage done by former government’s controllers, who, being in power for too long, became arrogant, entitled and corrupt.
This is a new day for British Columbia and a beginning of a new era for Canada and what better time than on Canada’s 150th birthday. Just as UN-Habitat I and Greenpeace were born in BC and spread east across Canada, then across the globe, we at this time can stand for a truly people-focused democracy based on our shared values and common goals. And done well, this will be BC’s greatest gift to the rest of Canada on our 150th birthday. Implicit in this renewal is the honouring of those whose cultures were here long before the most recent 150 years, and to work together in the spirit of reconciliation with First Nations for the betterment of all.
Here is the opening section of the agreement signed by the leaders and caucus of both parties. Please do take the time to read the whole document on-line at the NDP or Green Party’s website, or at commonground.ca
2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC
Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus
This agreement between the BC Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus is effective , for four years, or until the next fixed date election as set by the BC Constitution Act.
Section 1 – Foundation of Relationship
This agreement establishes the basis for which the BC Green Caucus will provide confidence in a BC New Democrat Government. It is not intended to lay out the full program of a New Democrat Government, nor is it intended to presume BC Green support for initiatives not found within this agreement.
Both the BC New Democrats and the BC Greens campaigned for a government that put people at the centre of their decision-making. Our policy proposals included many points of agreement, including:
1. Making democracy work for people
2. Creating jobs, acting on climate change, and building a sustainable economy that works for everyone
3. Fixing the services people count on
4. Making life more affordable for people
This agreement sets out a new relationship between the two parties, founded on the principle of “good faith and no surprises”.
Both parties agree that the legislature works best when all MLAs are able to put forward good ideas – and come together – to support those that advance the public good.
Remember, this is only the beginning. May we all find common ground and make our province, country and world a better place for peace and prosperity from this day forward.
Erin is a derivative of the Irish word for Ireland – “Éire”. Erin used for both sexes, is principally a feminine forename. Erin is also a name for Ireland in Welsh and one of the most popular girls’ names in Wales.
The baby mentioned at the beginning is named Erin.
So host a Orange and Green house party, block party, musical concert, improv flash mob, country fair, farmers market or any other place where people can gather together. Get creative and initiate you own celebration to bring both Green and Orange together. It is up to each one of us now.