(Video: My first speech in the Legislature.)
For months, our team of volunteer canvassers knocked on doors across Saanich North and the Islands. The Greens had teams across the province. Day in and day out, we heard from voters that there was an overwhelming desire for change.
The sentiment was expressed by people across the political spectrum and many voted for me, because I represent an alternative to the status quo. On election day, our riding voted overwhelmingly for change and after all the votes had been counted, and in some cases re-counted, the result was the first minority government since 1952.
The BC Liberals had lost the confidence of the people. Me and my BC Green colleagues, Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau, found ourselves holding the balance of power, the balance of responsibility. Responsibility to all British Columbians to create a stable government, committed to delivering an agenda that it believes in and has demonstrated a commitment to.
After intense negotiations with both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP, we Green’s each signed our name to an agreement to provide our support to the BC NDP on confidence and supply votes. This achieved the stability a government requires and honours what we heard during the election. We remain a separate Party on the Opposition benches, with the freedom to deal with all other issues on a case-by-case basis.
The Speech from the Throne was one last chance for the BC Liberals to earn my confidence. It had the exact opposite effect. It contained dozens of platform ideas that just weeks previously they had been lambasting as unaffordable, inconceivable and/or irresponsible. The stunning policy reversal, with such depth and breadth, caused confusion and exposed a fundamental question. What do the BC Liberals actually stand for?
While delaying the inevitable vote of confidence they doubled down, offering legislation that would have given the BC Greens official party status and sweeping party financing reforms, something they actively argued against during the election. The opposition Members voted the Bills down at first reading, it was all a distraction from primary question of confidence. We spent the next four days listening to BC Liberal MLA’s fiercely defending their last minute reformation on child care, mental health, education, climate change and more.
By the time the confidence vote was called, I was convinced that I had made the correct choice. My decision is receiving mixed reviews, it will always be a challenge representing our diverse and engaged constituency. There was certainly no perfect solution.
Now the challenge of maintaining and growing our province will be led by BC NDP. But the responsibility is not theirs alone. There are 87 MLA’s elected to lead our province. I believe the true measure of any government is the relationship they build with constituencies that are represented by Members in the Opposition. At no time in modern history has a government had so many opportunities to work across Party lines to negotiate the best outcomes for British Columbia.
It is an honour to serve as your MLA and my next column will focus on some exciting initiatives my office is working on. I will be on Salt Spring during the afternoon of July 20 holding “public hours’ at the library. Stop by and say hello if you’re in the area! You can also email me anytime me adam.olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca.
Thank you – HÍ SW̱ KE