The Old Guard faction of Comox Valley political activists has been trying for decades to create a cohesive voting block
BC Green candidate Gillian Anderson waving signs at the Comox Valley Farmers Market | George Le Masurier photo
Greens Gillian Anderson: stop fossil fuel subsidies, only public long-term care beds
BC Green Party candidate Gillian Anderson used to be a life-long supporter of the New Democratic Party. She sought this riding’s NDP nomination in 2017 and, after losing to Ronna-Rae Leonard, campaigned for her.
But Anderson says there were no sour grapes about her move to the Greens.
“I left the NDP because John Horgan broke all of his environmental promises,” she told Decafnation in a telephone interview last week. “To stay and support the NDP would be endorsing those lies and destructive acts, which are increasing, not decreasing BC’s carbon emissions.”
She says the NDP lied to British Columbians when they promised to shut down the costly Site C dam project, when they reversed their position and became a “cheerleader” for liquid natural gas (LNG) and when they allowed private companies to log more than a million acres of the province’s old-growth forest.
“If you tell lies to get elected, how can people believe anything you say?” she said.
Anderson was no less blunt about the Oct. 24 election call.
“I have to smile when the NDP talks about the province needing a stable government,” she said. “Horgan had a perfectly solid agreement with the Greens. He didn’t need to unethically cancel that agreement and call an election.”
The 2017 election cost British Columbians about $40 million, but because of necessary safety protocols during the COVID pandemic, the 2020 election will cost even more.
“Plus, with more than 430,000 mail-in ballots, we won’t know the results of the election until maybe late November. That effectively freezes everything,” she said.
She said the Greens would be more responsible than the NDP or BC Liberals about how they spend the province’s money.
The Greens would end the “billions and billions wasted on Site C” and the millions of taxpayers money given as subsidies to the fossil fuel industries, she said.
“If we keep wasting it propping up the dying, sunset fossil fuel industry or on unneeded dams, then there’s not enough for the things that are really important to people,” she said. “We (the Greens) would take a holistic view and reallocate money away from ridiculous mega-projects and use it to create a sustainable community where everyone has a home and is safe.”
LONG-TERM CARE BEDS
Anderson said the Greens have a clear position on long-term care facilities and the growing demand for more capacity: They would stop public funding of beds in privately owned facilities, and divert that money to more effective strategies for improving the quality of long-term care.
The Greens are the only party to distance itself from private care homes, which have come under increased scrutiny for poor working conditions, insufficient care hours and low wages paid to health care staff.
“The fact the COVID virus is frequent in our long-term care homes comes in part because employees have to work multiple jobs, because wages in private homes are so low. That shows that we are not funding long-term care properly,” she said.
She said all of the new beds promised for the Comox Valley are already spoken for. “Capacity has been outstretched by demand,” she said.
The Green platform includes funding a national dementia strategy and using money saved from mega-projects to fund even more new beds.
Anderson said her party would put additional funding into home care support programs, including rent subsidies. She said it’s less expensive to support people to stay at home and it’s also better for seniors’ mental and emotional health.
And the Greens would “recognize long-term care workers as the professionals they are and pay them the wages they deserve.”
She scoffed at the NDPs sudden “grand pronouncements” about long-term care since the election was called.
“The NDP had 40 months to tackle this problem,” she said. “But where were they when the Comox Valley Seniors Village had a major lapse of care and standards that resulted in a high-risk rating from Island Health? Where were they when there were 22 contraventions of regulations since 2018, filthy conditions and falsified records, key positions left vacant and a staff strike over poor wages?”
NO SUPPORT FOR TAX CUT
Anderson said the Greens would not support the Liberals proposals to eliminate the PST tax for a year and reduce it after that. She said that would take $10.8 billion out of provincial revenue and would benefit wealthy people who make most of the big-ticket purchases.
“The last time Liberals cut taxes, they froze social service spending for years, from which we haven’t fully recovered and that partly laid the groundwork for today’s issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health suffering,” she said.
That nearly $11 billion could be spent on long-term care, child care and other services such as public transit and after school programs for at-risk kids.
She said the money could be used to help support stressed families. It costs more to remove a child from a stressed family than giving them direct financial support, and it also creates happier and more loving families.
YOUTH STRESSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
The Green Party’s focus on clean energy, eliminating fossil fuels and other climate actions will help today’s youth who are “deeply troubled” by the long-term impacts of climate change, Anderson says.
“There’s a certain hopeless dream affecting many young people today,” she said. “It’s an overwhelming slow-moving trainwreck coming their way and they feel that adults aren’t doing anything to stop it.”
The NDP’s record is fueling that worry, she says, and young people feel betrayed by their government.
“They read that the permafrost is thawing and will release methane into the atmosphere and they’re wondering what kind of world they’ll have when they reach their 40s and 50s,” she said.
Electing more Greens to public office would help reduce that stress, she said, because they know we’re going to address their issues.
PLATFORM FOCUSED ON PEOPLE
Like other Green Party policies, its proposed restructuring of municipal financing is designed to create more livable communities for people. At present, local governments rely mostly on property tax, which limits the funds available for projects to create walkable neighbourhoods and better public transit.
Anderson says the Greens would bring in free child care for children under three and fund early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. The party would also provide $350 a month for stay-at-home parents and start exploring the feasibility of a general four-day workweek.
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OCT. 24 PROVINCIAL ELECTION INFORMATION
The 2020 provincial election takes place on Oct. 24.
Advance voting begins at various locations on Thursday, Oct. 15 and continues every day through Wednesday, Oct. 21. A schedule and list of polling stations are posted on the Elections BC website.
Candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding are incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP), Gillian Anderson (BC Greens) and Brennan Day (BC Liberals).
In the last election (2017), 66.89 percent of the riding’s 43,671 registered voters cast a ballot. The results were:
NDP Ronna-Rae Leonard received 10,886 votes or 37.36%
BC Liberal Jim Benninger — 10,697 votes or 36.72%
Green Ernie Sellentin — 5,351 votes or 18.37%
Leah McCulloch — 2,201 votes or 7.55%
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