Fringe Parties – A Quest That Provided More Questions Than Answers

Pretenders – not Contenders  

They are not called fringe parties without good reason. With less than 4 months until the next BC provincial election, the host of ‘fringe parties’ are proving themselves to be exactly that. Kind of sad, when you think about it.

BC really needs some viable alternatives to the entrenched and unimaginative positions and self-serving policies of both the BC Liberal Party (some of whom are really Conservatives in Pink Cuddly Bunny suits trying to appear far more centrist than they really are) and the BC NDP who are dyed in the wool – Sheep, stuck in their socialistic, unaffordable and historically incompetent form of government mantra that costs the BC taxpayer untold billions in mistakes and ridiculous social engineering projects any time they are elected.

BC, as a result, is a two party system that practically ensures that one or the other of these two less than optimal options will enjoy a majority government, with little or no regard for opposing points of view or dissenting perspectives on social, economic and political issues. Both parties are dogmatic, tired and unimaginative and it would be nice for the BC voter to have a real third alternative.

This past few years, some of my closest friends, associates, colleagues and I went looking for that ‘viable, electable alternative’ and discovered – that there really aren’t any, at least in time for the 2017 provincial election.

That revelation was a real eye-opener and a sad indictment of the state of affairs of BC politics, if the truth be known. There are a number of registered political parties in BC and of that group numbering 58 registered with Elections BC in the past 10 years (somewhat appropriately one more than the famous brand of ketchup, Heinz 57), we have come to the collective conclusion that there are absolutely no supportable pretenders to the throne. In fact, some of us have come to the very disturbing conclusion that there are not even any viable alternatives that are supportable based on the party values, goals, political perspective or policies.

Some of the political parties certainly caught our initial attention, if for no other reason than their registered name and their various ‘known as’ aliases. Who would not want to explore further the goals, objectives and internal workings of such esteemed political organizations such as The Sex Party, or The Unparty? And let us not forget that there are probably some fairly apparent political agendas based in the material being offered by The Marijuana Party, The Herb Party, The Feminist Party and The Work Less Party, among others.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind finding out a bit more about (and qualifying for membership in) The People of British Columbia Millionaires Party or possibly The Party of Citizens Who Have Decided To Think For Themselves and Become Their Own Politicians.

Yes, residents of BC, these are real registered political parties who may, or may not, ask you for your vote in this 2017 election year.

There are, of course, other legitimate political parties, created by presumably earnest and sincere individuals without special interests who might have otherwise offered a real alternative to you, the BC Voter, – if the individuals and interest groups within those parties were not apparently utterly incompetent, unfocused, indifferent or perhaps just not ‘smart enough’ to get the job done. The job being the process of nominating actual, legitimate political candidates with real aspirations to serve in office and to provide benefit and vision for the Province of BC and its residents.

Some of us undertook a series of journeys over the course of the past couple of years in hopes of finding a political party alternative to the BC Liberals and the BC NDP. Sadly, and alarmingly, our journeys always resulted in frustration and failure. Even worse, the interviews and engagements with these other hopeful political alternatives showed how far ‘out of touch’ and how ill-prepared any and all of these parties really were, considering that a provincial election is looming on the horizon.

While all parties certainly were not interviewed, engaged or assessed in depth, the reality is that a representative number actually were – with incredibly disappointing and possibly alarming results. Anyone can apply to form a political party and in BC, that status entitles you to accept virtually unregulated political donations – contrary to the strict laws put in place in almost all other jurisdictions in Canada. Perhaps that, and the opportunity to be a ‘big fish in a small pond‘ or quite possibly ‘just a reason to get out of the house‘ must surely be the motivation behind the intentions of many of the party leaders and party executives we interviewed and assessed.

In short, our disappointing and pragmatic conclusion is that none of the ‘fringe’ parties actually have anything to offer the BC voter at the moment – if indeed, those parties ever will. Here is a sampling of our findings – shortened down in the interests of time, space and simply because these parties ultimately really have nothing to legitimately offer or bring to the table in a meaningful, substantive manner leading up to the 2017 election.

British Columbia Social Credit Party

This political party was de-registered after the 2013 election because it did not field sufficient candidates to maintain its political status. The SoCreds have a colourful past, of course, in BC and held office for a number of years as the governing party in BC. The British Columbia Social Credit Party was re-registered in 2016 (because of the rather substantive money that was bequeathed to the SoCreds sitting in limbo at Elections BC?) – but has done absolutely nothing meaningful since the re-registration. We even attempted to investigate ‘joining’ the BC Socreds but were rebuffed by the ‘Gate Keeper‘ who apparently doesn’t like members any more than she liked ‘Leaders’. Nasty, obstinate, opinionated people who didn’t always see things her way.

So, going into the 2017 election? Virtually no active membership, no website, no social media presence (the Gate Keeper doesn’t like some modern innovations such as email and the like) and no candidates announced. A ‘one woman show’ stuck in the past with no inclination, ability or intent to build the party for the 2017 election. The ‘Gate Keeper‘ might want to read the definition of Luddite and also do some introspection. Someone left a financial legacy to the British Columbia Social Credit Party. They did not leave the legacy to the ‘Gate Keeper‘. Quite sad.

BC Action Party

A splinter party at least once removed – fallout from the second most recent implosion and self-destruction of the BC Conservative Party. After John Cumming was made Leader (under controversial circumstances) and led the BC Conservatives virtually nowhere in the 2013 election, a number of dissidents either were kicked out of the BC Conservative Party, left of their own accord or otherwise just took their ball and went off to play by themselves.

Some of these individuals coalesced under the banner of the BC Action Party which actually does have a decent website, some supportable policies and a documented vision for running for office. Unfortunately, the BC Action Party has lost over 90% of its membership (as best as we can tell) and there simply aren’t sufficient resources or enough members in enough riding associations to mount anything other than a token attempt at electing an MLA.

Worse yet, some of the dissenting members have rejoined the BC Conservative Party and an ill-conceived plan to merge the two parties has again failed miserably, probably due to the personalities involved that value egocentric self-interest ahead of mutual goals and objectives. After all, isn’t that what politics usually winds up being about?

BC Conservative Party

The ‘poster child’ Party for how to do essentially everything wrong – over and over again. (Remind you of the definition of insanity? Repeating a behaviour over and over whilst expecting a different result?) You think that the core group would learn – but it appears that most of the reasonably bright, ambitious and motivated members have moved on, and with good reason. Leaving, of course, the individuals who are continuing to drive the BCCP into a much-deserved oblivion.

It is hard to know where to start but here are a couple of good talking points. Imagine a political party that has held 3 AGM’s in the past 3 years and has elected (with an active law suit still in front of the BC Supreme Court), accepted the resignation from, re-elected then denied the re-election of the same individual – for ‘procedural’ reasons. Uh huh. I know the math is hard to follow but the bottom line is this.

The BC Conservative Party is so incompetent (in its current iteration) that it is unable to elect its own Leader.

Now, how bad is that? Not only that, the ill-informed and poorly advised membership base at the time was subjected to a draconian, railroaded constitution that allows an almost totalitarian Leadership structure (the Leader only requires 40% support from the membership and any Board Director who doesn’t support the Leader must immediately resign. Shades of North Korea, anyone?).

Is it any wonder that more than half of the 2013 membership base has resigned or refused to renew membership? Add to the mix, the resignation of virtually 3 entire Boards of Directors over alleged improprieties since 2013, a number of lawsuits (some continuing) and a website that has actually taken away more information since the summer of 2016 than it has added – and you have the ingredients for a sordid mess that only those stewing in their own juices can fully appreciate and espouse.

For good measure, let’s not forget that the BCCP denied membership renewals to a number of its nominated candidates in the last provincial election and that the BCCP is essentially broke – with insufficient resources to mount a campaign or assist potential candidates.

Those that have hijacked the BCCP (including one group that actually had the audacity to proclaim itself as a Board of Directors in 2015 without being elected and without ratification of the membership) are still in their own dream world, thinking that their shrinking membership and diminishing political IQ will somehow allow them to field legitimate candidates in the 2017 election. Nope. Not going to happen.

The Brain Trust of the BCCP thinks it has all of the answers. Problem is, the Brain Trust doesn’t understand any of the meaningful, relevant questions. And collectively, the Brain Trust has an insufficient ‘Brain’ and ‘Moral Compass’ to legitimately ask the BC Voter for a single vote.

Ask yourself why you would vote for a political party that is incapable of managing itself – and has already proven itself to be exclusionary and elitist? This is a political party that aspires to manage the Multi-Billion collective that is the province of BC. The BCCP certainly cannot demonstrate that it is able to manage its own affairs – let alone the affairs of an entire province. Not deserving of a single vote.

Who better to comment on the sorry state of affairs than the leadership candidate who officially finished second in what turned out to be a ‘non-leadership’ race.  Here is a direct quote from Konrad Pimiskern published on December 20, 2016 in the Kelowna Daily Courier.  (The headline, by the way, is “BC Conservatives probe president“.

“I have no involvement with the BC Conservative party beyond that I am a member of the party like many people are,” he said. “I believe if the party was able to clean house . . . there are many good, hard-working, intelligent individuals who would be incredibly interested in vying for the leadership and candidacy, but the party needs to clean house.”

An interesting afterthought.  If there was not a valid leadership result from the September leadership race due to a ‘procedural’ disqualification of Dan Brooks, why did the leadership not revert to the second place finisher, Konrad Pimiskern?  Even more interesting, what are the odds that the BC Conservative Party will be facing more lawsuits from justifiably disgruntled leadership candidates who want their $5,000 leadership entry fees reimbursed since a valid leadership race did not appear to have been held?

Of course, the BCCP is essentially broke without those leadership fees – and has virtually no money with which to mount a campaign in 2017.

So, where does that leave us, Dear Reader?

The British Columbia Libertarian Party

My (much) better half and I had a meeting with a prospective candidate for the Libertarians. Yes, we found ourselves running out of options. For the record, we met the candidate at an outdoor hot dog stand – in the middle of winter in the Okanagan. The candidate spoke vaguely about being Libertarian (kind of like being Liberal, he thought) and spoke about the great organization and policies that he was reading about as a new prospective candidate.

Then, he asked us if we would mind signing his nominating papers. Apparently, even though the local newspaper was calling him the Libertarian candidate, he actually couldn’t become an official candidate until 50 individuals signed his nomination papers.

No, we didn’t have to belong to the Libertarian Party. But you did have to be eligible to vote in the riding. No, you did not have to give up membership in another party to sign a nomination for the Libertarian Party. And, no, you did not have to buy a hot dog from the street vendor.

What else could we do?

We signed the nominating papers. After all, can this nice young man be any worse than what we had already encountered in our interviews and quest for a political party to support with our vote?

Still, the election is somewhat distant on the horizon. We have not yet checked out The Annexation Party of British Columbia – or The British Columbia Excalibur Party.

I suppose we shouldn’t close the book on The Communist Party of BC, either. Or The Helping Hand Party. Or The Land Air Water Party. (Bet they have a bit of an environmental bias, methinks). The New Wave Party sounds – new. The Work Less Party sounds – lazy. The Link Party sounds – unlinked or perhaps TransLinked. The Platinum Party of Employers Who Think and Act to Increase Awareness sounds – verbose. Almost sesquipedalian.

And The Vancouver Island Party sounds – isolated and deserted.

There’s always The Green Party Political Association of British Columbia but a political party that doesn’t truly understand that the future of BC lies in its resource development and the transportation/distribution geographic paradigm (as well as its stated goal of preserving the natural splendour of BC) has some intellectual growing up to do. Governments require a tax base and growth in GDP – growth not based in real estate speculation.

Which has led some of us to acknowledge a reality that seems to be staring us in the face.

If we want good government, if we want good candidates who will be accountable and represent the very people who elect them, perhaps it is time to return to the very roots of democracy.

It is time to elect independent candidates who are not going to be ‘mouthpieces’ and compliantly subservient to the political parties who have nominated them and who control them through the implementation of ‘Party Whips’ and Caucus Solidarity.

It is time to elect MLA’s who represent you, the Voter, We, the BC Voters and Residents. It is our province. It is time to take it back from self-interest groups and political parties from all angles of the political spectrum.

It is ‘Right for BC‘. rightforbc.com

Check it out. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you are a supporter of the kind of government that Right for BC is envisioning.

Thank you.

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