Conservative conversion: no more blissful ignorance
I wasn’t born this way. I used to be a conservative, chortling at the tree huggers and the bleeding heart liberals that whined about gay rights, welfare rates and the environment. This was fairly common amongst my family and peers, many of whom grew up in small communities as children of business owners, loggers, farmers and fishermen.
But much has changed over the past 40 years, and for me the biggest change has been in knowledge. It was so much easier to live on in blissful ignorance of the harmful impact our policies and politics were having on the people, mostly the unfortunate and impoverished, as well as the impact on all the other species with whom we share the planet and our collective future.
So, what do we know now that is so “earth shattering”?
We know from the East Coast cod fishery collapse and from our dwindling wild West Coast salmon stocks that the ocean bounty is not without limit. We know from the loggers and foresters and the fact that we are destroying the last 10 per cent of our ancient forests, that current forest practices are not sustainable. We know that ocean acidification is killing coral reefs around the globe and pushing other types of sea life towards extinction. We know that extinctions on a planetary scale are accelerating towards a next “great extinction” the likes of which has not visited the planet for over 60 million years. We know that deforestation, chemical contamination, pollution, corruption, over exploitation, population and other human activities are largely responsible for these changes.
For me, this knowledge has made it impossible to continue to sit back and enjoy the ride knowing that my life, my choices and my politics could ultimately affect the life of every other living thing on the planet, including my own children and grandchildren. Getting off the couch, getting educated and getting politically engaged is what I decided to do.
I am old enough to remember the politics of the NDP, when as payback for financial support during an election, they signed outrageous and unaffordable contracts with public sector unions. I am old enough to remember when they opened the flood gates to raw log exports and allowed local saw mills and small town economies die from a lack of log supply. You don’t have to be old like me to remember that the NDP unanimously opposed B.C.’s carbon tax, running an “axe the tax” campaign, and just recently unanimously supported tax and royalty give-aways to the LNG industry.
Under the leadership of the current Liberals who appear to be Conservatives in disguise, tax reductions and benefits have increased steadily for corporations and for the wealthy, while social benefits for the needy have been eroded and essentials provide by government such as BC Hydro, BC Medical premiums, ICBC rates, and ferry fares have all gone up. Thus, placing a greater burden on those that can least afford it. Ordinary people are paying extra in fees and taxes to line the pockets of the affluent donors and corporations who benefit from the financial influence they wield over government policy.
Our current democracy is so broken that even if you could elect a decent candidate for the NDP or the Liberals, neither one of them could represent you or your area, since all of them would be forced to vote the “party line”. This means that if commanded, they will oppose even a great idea by the other party or be kicked out of the party.
Our democracy was meant to be individuals of high character selected to represent their communities and vote their conscience, not a collection of weak kneed politician “whipped” to support someone else’s agenda.
I feel that my only option as a thoughtful informed individual is to support the provincial Greens, who take no money from any corporation or union, who do not force their members to vote the party line against their conscience, who will base all decisions on “real facts”, and who will advance major policy not on what effect it will have on the next fiscal quarter or the next election cycle, but on the effect it will have on generations of citizens yet to come. It really is time for a change in the way we do politics in B.C., and in Canada. It’s time to take a stand to save our democracy, it’s time to vote for sound economic decisions based on fact and science, aimed at creating a sustainable and equitable future for all British Columbians. Real change is within reach. It’s time to grasp it!