NDP-Green alliance to focus on electoral reform, stopping Kinder Morgan and banning big money
Parties introduce agenda after agreeing to form a minority government for next 4 years
British Columbia's NDP and Green parties have signed a detailed agreement outlining how they will work together in government for the next four years. The 10-page accord outlines dozens of policy issues that two sides will work on.
Both parties have pledged to work to stop the federally approved $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan pipeline project that would triple the amount of bitumen moved from just north of Edmonton to B.C.'s coast.
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"[We would] immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast, and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province," the agreement said.
The pact will only come into effect if Premier Christy Clark resigns, or if the Liberals are defeated in a confidence motion in the legislature.
Electoral reform and big money
The NDP and the Greens are also pledging to hold a referendum on proportional representation that would take place in the fall of 2018, concurrent with the next municipal elections in British Columbia. If the referendum passes, the 2021 provincial election would be conducted under the form of proportional representation that is approved.
The two parties also want to change the fixed election date to the fall, which, if passed, would put the next election in the fall of 2021.
They have also agreed to a deal to ban union and corporate political donations, as well as contributions from non-residents of British Columbia. The changes to political fundraising would also put a limit on individual contributions.
Tolls and bridges
The two parties disagree on what to do about tolls on Metro Vancouver's Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges.
But the NDP is planning to include the waiving of the tolls in its budget and the Green Party has committed to supporting that budget, even though it will speak out against the toll ban.
If the Clark government is defeated and the New Democrats are asked to form government by the Lieutenant-Governor, the legislature would be recalled within one month of the swearing in of an NDP government.
The agreement would require spring and fall sittings of the legislature every year.
Some of the issues not included in the pact are the future of a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, a change to the foreign buyers' tax and ride-hailing. But they say all those issues will be raised in the legislature, if the NDP and Greens form government.
As for other transit projects, the NDP and Greens would work with mayors to find more equitable funding.
Carbon tax increase proposed
The one tax increase in the NDP-Green pact is a change to the carbon tax.
"[We would] implement an increase of the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, beginning April 1, 2018, and expand the tax to fugitive emissions and slash-pile burning," said the agreement.
On MSP premiums, the plan is to reduce them in half by 2018, which was part of the Liberals' budget. The two parties will then commission a panel to look at how to eliminate the tax before a possible 2021 election.
Fentanyl crisis and minimum wage
The accord also says an NDP government would create a minister responsible for developing and implementing a mental health and addiction strategy, as well as a youth mental health strategy, to help deal with the ongoing opioid crisis.
"[We would] develop an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis based on successful programs that invest in treatment-on-demand, drug substitution, early-warning monitoring systems and co-ordinated response," the agreement said.
It also says an NDP government would "establish an at-arm's-length fair wages commission that will be tasked with examining a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour and that would also oversee regular rate reviews."
Child care and basic income
There is no specific mention of a $10-a-day child-care program, promised by the NDP during the election campaign, but the parties say there is still a commitment to get to there.
Instead, the agreement says an NDP government would "invest in child care and early childhood education to improve quality, expand spaces, increase affordability and ensure child care is accessible for all families."
It would also establish and implement a basic income pilot project that would be funded in the first NDP budget.
Site C review
Consistent with the NDP's election promise, the agreement states that the Site C hydroelectric dam would be reviewed, but would not be temporarily stopped.
"[We would] immediately refer the Site C dam project to the B.C. Utilities Commission on the question of economic viability and consequences to British Columbians," the deal said.
The B.C. NDP has pledged to consult with the B.C. Green Party on major policy issues and all legislation to be introduced in the House.
"Both parties will ensure that they have all their elected members at all sittings of the House, as is reasonable, and will vote in favour of the government on confidence motions," said the agreement.
Green MLAs will be able to vote against NDP policies that are not confidence motions.
Both parties have also agreed to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.