Sunday, February 12, 2012

Politically, is there a difference between the BC Liberals and the Federal Liberals?

Here in BC because there have not really been any parties to the right of the BC Liberals, many people have been convinced that the BC Liberals are a conservative or right wing party.   There is no evidence for this claim but people still persist in calling the BC Liberals some form of Harperite Conservative protege political movement.

The evidence is clear of the Liberals not being a right wing party comes from 1996 when the people voted Reform or in 2009 when many conservative people simply did not vote.   It is also clear from the strong desire of conservatives to have a conservative party in BC and the rise of the BC Conservatives lately.  For most socially conservative types there is no functional political difference between the NDP and the Liberals in BC.

On the sort of issues that matter for social conservatives, the BC Liberals have consistently been social liberals. When the Federal Liberal party members like Paul Martin were voting against same sex marriages a BC Liberal cabinet minister married his partner.   Abortion has not been raised once by the BC Liberals, there have been attempts to use the health care system to try and stop abortions like was done by Bill Vander Zalm.   On these issues I can not see any difference between the BC NDP and the BC Liberals.

Privatization - there has only been one in BC since the BC Liberals came to power, the operations of BC Rail. The federal Liberals concluded more privatizations.

Government spending - the BC Liberals have been more liberal in their spending that the federal Liberals.   The Chretien government for their first term did some of the most dramatic cuts to government spending that any place in Canada has seen.  

First Nations - the BC Liberals under Gordon Campbell were the first jurisdiction I know of willing to actually negotiate a large First Nations role in land management and the first to work from the idea that Crown land revenues should be shared with the First Nations.   The Chretien government from 1993 to 2003 did nothing to advance aboriginal issues in Canada.  In BC they were the single biggest stumbling block to the settlement of treaties.  

Environment - the federal Liberals talked about climate change, the BC Liberals acted.  BC is still the only jurisdiction in Canada to take any form of concrete action on climate change.

So when BC Liberal MLAs ran federally, who did they run for?   Almost all of them for the federal Liberals.

Christy Clark was a long time federal Liberal member and a very active one at that.   This is a woman that is a centrist politician.

When I moved from the interior of BC, where there is no such thing as a federal Liberal, to Victoria, I was shocked that almost all the political back room staff were active federal Liberals.   In the interior the people involved with the BC Liberals were old Socreds and even in 2000 were concerned that they were joining the Liberals.  

The BC Liberals are far from perfect, but then every government is.   What can not be pinned on them is them being a right wing party.  If the BC Liberals are right wingers, then so are all Liberals in Canada.

Finally, here is my challenge to people out there, and this one I have asked of people for years.   Show me one major policy the BC Liberals instituted that was to the right of the federal Liberals.


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