This article is about the upcoming election in British Columbia, Canada.
The TSSU wanted, among other things, to give graduate students hiring priority over undergraduate and external applicants. They thought this would provide more financial stability for graduate students.
I agreed with the policy, even though it meant that I, as an undergraduate TA, would have lower priority.
As they escalated their job action, the TSSU sought to garner student support. They decided to spin the policy as good for students by arguing that undergraduate and external TAs weren’t as good at teaching as graduate students.
A representative of the TSSU actually visited my class and explained to my students that undergraduate TAs, like me, were worse teachers.
What surprised me wasn’t so much being insulted in front of my students as that it was my own union who did it. They were supposed to be on my team.
I learned a lesson: we were important to the TSSU’s movement until it wasn’t convenient for their political goals. When it suited them, they were happy to throw us under the bus.
I’m reminded of that moment now, with the NDP seeking re-election in British Columbia.
In the 2017 election, several friends of mine campaigned tirelessly on behalf of NDP candidates around the province. Christy Clark and the BC Liberals were poised to invest heavily in LNG. These friends of mine wanted to elect a government that would — finally — take the environment seriously.
Scientists have made it clear: we have fewer than 10 years to limit global warming and avoid climate change catastrophe. If we don’t, we will see irreversible changes in the environment that will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The NDP has consistently sought to brand themselves as an environmentally conscious party. They were elected on a platform that made a number of significant environmental promises. They also took a strong stance against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and earned endorsements from prominent environmental activists like Tzeporah Berman.
And, for a while, the NDP seemed to follow through. They banned trophy hunting of Grizzly bears. They updated environmental assessment legislation. And they came out with their CleanBC plan to encourage more renewable energy.
But then, this same party that stood so strongly against pipelines and warned against LNG while they were in opposition approved the LNG Canada export project. The project will create 4 megatons of greenhouse gases every year — equivalent to the annual emissions from about 800,000 cars.
They have said that Clean BC will take us to 75% of our 2030 emissions target (it’s unclear how they plan to make up the rest). But independent analysis actually suggests emissions from oil and gas may be 160% greater than the province’s targets by 2050, even if all other sources of GHGs are reduced to zero.
But it’s worse than that: they’ve actually increased subsidies for the LNG industry, granting $1.2 billion in deep well subsidies in the last two years alone. The NDP’s subsidies don’t just expand the LNG industry — they make British Columbians pay for it.
The NDP knows all of this. They have said it themselves.
In 2015, Michelle Mungal, seeking re-election in Nelson, called legislation proposed by the BC Liberals that would similarly subsidize the LNG industry a big “generational sell out”.
Lana Popham, seeking re-election in Saanich South, said, “It’s politics, not impartial analysis that led this government to focus on LNG to the exclusion of all other sectors of this province … You’re not doing our province any favours. You certainly don’t have the right … to stand up and talk about how much you care about children’s future…”
John Horgan, seeking re-election in Langford-Juan de Fuca, called the B.C. Liberals’ plan for a 25-year contract, “a 25-year tax holiday. Where’s the benefit to British Columbia?” Then he created a 40-year deal with even greater tax benefits.
And, for extra irony, the former Environment Minister, George Heyman, said that by investing in LNG, “We are creating a significant environmental catastrophe, significant health issues and we are going to cost the economy of this province, this nation and the world billions of unnecessary dollars.”
Each of these individuals, and now candidates for re-election, voted for legislation that increases subsidies to the LNG industry.
For those of us hoping for genuine environmental action, the feeling of betrayal is familiar: it’s the same sting I felt as a TA. They were supposed to be on my team.
But it’s my friends and the environmentalists in the NDP party that I really feel for. Those who put in hours campaigning for their NDP candidates believing that this government really would take action on climate change.
My friends invested in their party.
Environmentalists—my friends included—were important to the NDP’s movement and to get elected. But now they're not convenient for the NDP’s political goals.
The NDP threw us all under the bus when they chose not only to approve the LNG Canada export project, but to actually subsidize it. And it’s their own members who are hurting the most.