COLUMN: How will the Greens stay independent?

Kim Charlesworth was the Green Party candidate for Nelson-Creston in the recent election

I congratulate Michelle Mungall on her cabinet appointment and look forward to working with her to shape forward thinking energy policy.

One question I am being asked by many is: How will the Greens stay independent? How will they continue to have any influence?

Under the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the two parties, the B.C. NDP must consult with the B.C. Green Caucus in order to ensure that the principle of good faith and no surprises is maintained. The agreement has outlined a number of key policy areas that the two parties have agreed to prioritize and advance.

Consultation will be done at a high-level at early stages of policy development through a consultation committee. On all other issues, the B.C. Green Caucus will vote on an issue-by-issue basis.

And they may not vote as a bloc. They remain an independent opposition caucus. As such, it is also likely they will work with the Liberal party on some issues.

It is abundantly clear that the B.C. Greens have been influencing policy and action since this election campaign began.

The Liberal throne speech on June 22 included many B.C. Green policies. And we can be very sure that they will continue to influence the new NDP directions.

It was easy for me to campaign as a Green candidate because not only did the platform lay out the feel-good social and environmental policies needed for a sustainable future, it also laid out the economic changes needed to get us there in a fiscally responsible way. It was easy to get excited about that.

It’s also reassuring to those who chose to vote Green in this election that each and every one of their votes mattered. It showed those now with the opportunity to make policy that a growing number of people want to see a shift towards a more sustainable future — economic, social and environmentally.

It’s a little disappointing, with all parties in agreement that we need to reform our campaign finance system, that both the B.C. Liberals and NDP continue to accept corporate and union donations. The concern is that when corporations and unions donate large sums of money to a political party, there is an expectation of some kind of favourable treatment or influence further down the road.

If the NDP wants to take the high road and act on principle, they must stop accepting union and corporate donations now. Otherwise there will always be questions of influence-peddling. In order to build public trust, it’s important to show leadership on this issue.

I’m excited that the possibility of proportional representation is now much closer. In the past few weeks there has been more agreement on shared issues than in decades before.

Since British Columbians voted to give no party 100 per cent of the power, we now have all-party agreement on a wide range of key issues (as evidenced by the Throne Speech and the NDP and Green platforms). Fundamentally this is what PR is about — ensuring that politicians work together on the issues that affect British Columbians rather than opposing each other out of political calculation.

We know that decisions are better when all interests are represented. So it is incredibly important that we encourage and support those who were elected.

With our letters and our emails and our phone calls, we can make sure they know what matters to us — the people in Nelson-Creston who deeply care about the future of this riding and of BC.

I invite you to make your voice heard.

Kim Charlesworth was the Green Party candidate for Nelson-Creston in the last provincial election.

Nelson Star