Les Leyne: Bitterness is loud and clear in wreckage of NDP-Green partnership

Now that the NDP-Green ­partnership has exploded with the election call, a lot of ­accumulated resentment is spilling out.

The first grievances had to do with Premier John Horgan’s betrayal of the B.C. Greens by violating the agreement to go the full term before holding a vote.

As Green Leader Sonia Furstenau acknowledged ­Friday, it left them flat-footed, with ­precisely zero candidates nominated on the day Horgan went to the lieutenant-governor and did the deed.

They didn’t reach a full slate as nominations closed Friday.

She also made it clear the resentment over that epic ­double-cross is alive and well. (Actually it wasn’t that clear. She was holding a cellphone conference call on top of the Malahat for some reason, and the call kept failing. The audio was ­intermittent, but the bitterness was a steady three bars.)

“What John Horgan appears to want is absolute power, absolute obedience and no accountability for the decisions he and his ­government make,” she said.

“That is not the best thing for this province.”

Countering Horgan’s view that political acrimony over the ­summer was hindering his government, she said all three parties were collaborating and co-operating like never before through COVID-19.

“Only one party decided ­collaboration and co-operation weren’t good enough for them.”

Apart from that, the estranged junior partner from that defunct minority government also has a whole different list of ­frustrations centering on climate-change policies.

She vented about them as well, after Horgan on Friday unveiled yet another emission-reduction target for B.C. He promised to introduce legislation if elected to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Politicians have been proclaiming greenhouse-gas reduction targets for 13 years now, but emissions are going up. Furstenau said this latest promise is doomed from the outset by the NDP’s decision to back the B.C. Liberals’ push, when they were governing, for a huge liquefied natural gas industry, now underway on the north coast.

Horgan invited the contrast by making the promise in Squamish, where the conflicting priorities couldn’t be any clearer.

He was at Carbon Engineering’s facility, where they’re doing mind-blowing work on the idea of extracting carbon dioxide out of the air and sequestering or neutralizing it. B.C. Liberals were just as enthusiastic about the firm as he is — they gave them $3.7 million a few years ago to build a demonstration plant synthesizing fuel from carbon dioxide.

But a small-scale LNG plant is taking shape in the same community (now delayed by the pandemic). It’s a fraction of the size of the giant one underway near Kitimat. Both are enthusiastically supported by the NDP (and the Liberals). When it comes to emissions, they go in a different direction than the one Horgan was talking about.

The current Clean B.C. plan — based on wholesale changes to every part of the economy — is to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The Friday announcement would require what’s left at that point to be offset in some fashion by law.

Said Horgan: “We believe that we have space in our plan for new industrial emissions but not excessive industrial emissions. … If there’s going to be an increase on the industrial side from one sector that means it has to be balanced by a decline in emissions in some other sectors.”

Furstenau scoffed at the concept. She said the NDP has shown no interest in meeting the 2040 target (60 per cent lower than 2007 levels), let alone 2050.

“We’re not reducing [emissions]. We’re increasing them. They do not have the courage to take the action needed to address climate change.”

She said Greens voted 14 times against the LNG Canada plant, which she called a “giant gaping hole” in the Clean B.C. plan.

It’s clear the sentiment that prompted her Sept. 18 letter to Horgan warning him against an election is still deeply felt.

She told him then: “This is not the time for an unnecessary and self-serving election.”

She also suggested more work was needed on the recovery plan that preceded the election call, particularly on the Clean B.C. aspect.

The plan now is to reach net zero in 30 years. It will take the Greens about that long to forget how their confidence agreement came to a crashing end.

lleyne@timescolonist.com

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