Sanity wins

Failed green coup is a victory for sanity. But can BC's new premier govern without pernicious influences?

Premier Designate David Eby. Photo from The Vancouver Sun.

In dramatic climax, the BC NDP leadership has finally drawn to a close. Anjali Appadurai has officially been expelled from the race, paving the way for her only challenger, David Eby, to become the next premier as John Horgan retires.

Equally dramatic was the green movement's attempted coup d'état of the NDP's leadership.

The green movement already had unprecedented access and influence within the government, with the Sierra Club given free rein to influence forestry policy on old growth and to manipulate the public process to their desired outcomes. But the Appadurai campaign represented an opportunity to further entrance environmental lobbyists within the halls of government, no less at the very top.

A report from Elizabeth Cull, the BC NDP's chief electoral officer, revealed learnings from an investigation that found inappropriate coordination between environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO) Dogwood BC and others working on behalf of the Appadurai campaign.

The investigation report revealed that two third-party organizations were promoting sign-ups for the Appadurai campaign using paid social media ads in apparent contravention of election laws regarding campaign spending limits, if the organizations were not truly operating independently, which it would seem they were not.

The same third-party organization encouraged individuals "to fraudulently join the BC NDP despite being members or supporters of other political parties." The report notes: "The BC NDP requires members to affirm not only that they are not members of other parties, but also that they are not supporters of other parties."

Specifically, the report reads:

"Most of the concerns raised with the CEO about fraudulent memberships related to repeated statements by Dogwood and its staff, including via volunteer and commercial phone canvassing, that people could and should join the BC NDP while retaining their membership in the Green Party or temporarily 'pausing' Green membership for the purpose of voting in the BC NDP leadership election."

ENGO leaders made explicit promises to flood the NDP membership with green movement supporters in an August 6th Zoom meeting with the Appadurai campaign:

"Dogwood estimated it could sign up thousands of BC NDP members and that it would 'go all out until that sign-up deadline.' A representative of Force of Nature similarly stated: 'we have a list that we can mobilize of probably tens of thousands of people.' Avi Lewis [co-author of the Leap Manifesto], who appeared to chair or lead the discussion, responded: 'I’m excited to have folks from organizations bringing the power of their organizations.'"

After the success of a test of the campaign's viability, perhaps using ENGO resources, Appadurai confirmed that she would run. The transcript included in the report reads: 'I will be your candidate. Let's do this. I raised my hands to all of you on this call. I can't wait to devote myself.' Mr. Lewis responded, 'You were here when it happened, folks. This is the beginning of something really special [emphasis added].'"

And yet, the coup has failed. Following the investigation, BC NDP executives expelled Appadurai from the leadership race, leaving David Eby, who is backed by the majority of the party faithful, the presumptive next premier of the province.

Anjali Appadurai. Photo from Ben Nelms and The CBC.

Everyone closely watching Appadurai's subversive ENGO campaign could see it coming, given how her victory would fundamentally alter the power structures of BC's centre-left party, both institutionally and ideologically. Appadurai took more than a few potshots at labour unions that backed Eby, who were not especially enamoured with her approach to economic and business policy.

What were those policies? In brief: shut it all down.

For instance, rather than leading with "just stop oil and gas," she couched her position in language that appeared to make her seem more reasonable, saying she would freeze permits for new natural gas production. But as anyone who understands the issues knows, no permits mean no new wells would be drilled. Natural gas production relies on constantly bringing new wells online because productivity quickly declines upon the first use of the well.

With existing production drying up, BC would effectively leave billions of dollars worth of infrastructure utterly redundant in a time when the world's demand for these products has never been more acute and our allies have never needed Canada to come through more.

And then there's Appadurai's forestry plan. Save Old Growth, the ENGO blockade group that so raised the ire of British Columbians last Spring, celebrated her promise to ban both all old growth logging and log exports. This, even though old growth numbers are much healthier than ENGOs lead people to believe, the industry is already facing critical job losses and closures due to a shortage of fibre and banning log exports would be counter-productive to job creation. In other words, Appadurai's forest plan would have presided over the even faster decline of one of BC's most critical industries.

Yet, with the green takeover of the BC NDP foiled, David Eby has a difficult task ahead to rebuild and repair his party. He will be coming in at a time when internal fractures seriously challenge the party. Divisions may yield serious blowback at the next party convention, the next time there's a leadership contest or, more likely, in the next general election.

I wouldn't be surprised to see an emboldened BC Green Party in the next two years – or, given the current Green leader’s apparent endorsement of her economics, to see Anjali run for them.

In the meantime, the failed green coup is an opportunity for the incoming premier to lead without pernicious influences. It's an opportunity to return to balance, jeopardized by an anti-forestry, anti-LNG movement fueled more by ideological sensationalism than by real concern for the environment and working people.

Having defeated the green coup, David Eby's first 100 days should not surrender to their policies on forestry and natural gas.

Josiah Haynes is Resource Work's content director, the proud grandson of BC forestry workers and a passionate advocate for economic empowerment through responsible resource development. The opinions presented here do not necessarily represent those of Resource Works.

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