by Michele Murphy
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC Office (CCPA-BC), is celebrating their 20th anniversary and hosted a fundraising event at the First Metropolitan United Church on Oct 27. Their presentation was entitled “Hope in Turbulent Times: The political moment in BC, the rise of the far right and the climate challenge.”
CCPA-BC director Seth Klein was joined by Ben Parfitt, award-winning journalist and author and CCPA-BC resource policy analyst. Klein and Parfitt reported out to a small but engaged audience on the local political scene, what’s to be hopeful about, what’s to be weary of, and what’s to be vigilant about. They came with good news, insights, warnings, and their hats out for needed financial support to continue to do their work.
“What an exciting time to be doing this work.”
If you’re not familiar with the CCPA, or the work they do, they are a national independent progressive think tank, perhaps most easily described as the left, and centre-left’s response to the Fraser Institute. They share values with progressive political parties that are also concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Klein may have best described what they do at CCPA as “producing research so that people know that our best values are possible.” And Klein would know, he was hired 20 years ago at 28-years-old to open the BC office.
The presenters were openly excited and optimistic at the new make-up of the BC Legislature with Klein saying that “the new political train is certainly a sign of hope.” He said that the Centre is proud of the role that it played in the creation of the new government’s platform and of the BCNDP/Green agreement.
He encouraged everyone to read the agreement including that it’s only 10 pages.
Klein cited the new government’s willingness to work with the recommendations and guidelines of both the UN Declaration of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as huge and transformative. He was hopeful of BC finally having a poverty-reduction strategy (BC is the only province in Canada that does not) and he said that Proportional Representation (PR) is a game-changer.
He added, “But change doesn’t end on election day.”
Klein spoke of change in historical terms as being made not in a slow even rise, but in spikes – key moments where there’s a major event that creates significant change. He used Rosa Parks’ work in the American Civil Rights movement as an example, explaining that Parks worked hard and was training as an activist for workers’ rights and racial equality before her famous bus ride. The bus ride was not in isolation and he reiterated that it was and is the hard work that is done in between those spikes that makes the big changes even possible.
With campaign finance reform soon to be in place there will be millions of Big Oil dollars looking for new ways to ensure their best interests are taken care. The campaign for proportional representation is an area that the CCPA-BC will be focusing on and Klein suggests that it’s a good place for progressives to focus on as well. He suggested that it is important to the corporate class in BC that PR not become a reality. A counter-campaign to PR may well be funded by the same corporate dollars that have, in the past, funded the BC Liberal party.
Klein said that BC’s new government needs our support – and it will need prodding if it is to be truly ambitious. And he encouraged all to stay engaged at any level that they can. “It’s small changes that can make a huge difference,” says Klein. It takes so little for things to swing a different way. He concluded, “What an exciting time to be doing this work.”
More on the CCPA-BC
CCPA has created countless reports and studies and most are available on their website for no cost – asking only for a donation, if you are able and inclined. Recent publications include their Oct 12 submission to the BC Budget 2018 Consultation outlining their seven priorities complete with the action plans to make them happen. These aren’t just demands, they are researched solutions to identified social problems that they feel that funding and policy change can resolve.
- Fund the implementation of a universal, affordable, quality child care plan.
- Introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.
- Strengthen public education and health care.
- Make major investments in housing affordability.
- Expand climate action initiatives beyond the carbon tax.
- Provide stable, long-term funding for public transit.
- Improve the fairness of the provincial tax system.
On Policy Note:
Policy Note is a blog that has contributors that include staff and research associates from the CCPA-BC, but it does not necessarily represent the views of the CCPA. The blog offers progressive commentary on issues that affect British Columbians, including the economy, poverty, inequality, climate change, provincial budgets, taxes, public services, employment and democracy. Look for more commentary on PR on Policy Note.