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Here’s What You Need to Know About BC’s Election

Like that English final you willfully forgot about, it might be time to study up for that vote on May 9.

Exam season is upon us. I know what you're thinking: who cares? This is perhaps, not coincidentally, the way many of us also feel about British Columbia's upcoming election.

Well, now that the writ has officially dropped, it might be time to stop willfully ignoring all those issues that professor-types seem to care about. We're frankly going to embarrass ourselves if we walk into that English final and/or voting booth on May 9 without at least attempting to understand what the hell has been going on outside of our own dimly-lit basement suites.

Yes, this is our chance to have a say in the direction of a province that houses the richest rich and the poorest poor people in the country within spitting distance. Will your decision invite or delay the region's coming dystopic class war? Let's meet the players and take a look at the issues to find out.

The prevailing story about New Democrat leader John Horgan is that nobody knows who he is. There have been so many headlines asking this question one has to wonder why we haven't yet moved on to what is John Horgan, or does John Horgan even lift? Despite having a questionably electable beard, he's heading the only party in the race capable of unseating BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark, who is seeking a third term. BC Green leader Andrew Weaver does not have a beard, but has seriously considered splitting from the federal Green party which he sees as "hijacked" by "extremist fringe."

Election spending

Even the New York Times is confused by BC's campaign finance rules, which one critic has called a "system of legalized bribery."

Despite having so few limits on donations—no cap on donations or limits on corporate, union or foreign contributions—the ruling BC Liberals appear to have broken them, and the RCMP is currently investigating.

The BC Liberals have pledged to review campaign finance law. Both the Greens and New Democrats want to ban union and corporate donations.

Real estate regulation

For the better part of 2016 Vancouver's real estate market was inflating wildly—up 40 percent in a single year—supposedly flooded with overseas investment in luxury houses. After setting record after record for cost of living and number of sales, BC finally brought in a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers in August of last year—something critics said came several years too late.

The NDP has pledged to expand the foreign buyers tax, while Greens will double it to 30 percent.

Homelessness

Metro Vancouver's homeless count released this week showed a 30 percent increase in street homelessness since 2014. Related: it's been ten years since the province has raised its social assistance rates.

Overdose epidemic

On page 103 of the BC Liberals' new platform comes first mention of the epidemic that has killed more than 1,000 people in the past 12 months. The party has touted its creation of a task force, bragged about opening 500 treatment beds (exactly zero percent of the ones in Vancouver count as detox or residential addiction treatment), and promises to spend the feds' money.

Frankly none of the parties have given much political priority to a situation that, I repeat, has killed more than 1,000 people in the past 12 months.

Energy projects

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion is a massive sticking point for British Columbians—a pipeline that will push hundreds more oil tankers through the Burrard Inlet. People in the interior tend to see Trans Mountain as a money-making project, but BCers on the coast tend to see it as a marine disaster waiting to happen.

BC Liberals maintain they've worked with the feds to ensure "world class spill response" (Heiltsuk Nation may disagree) while the NDP and Greens join Vancouver and Burnaby mayors in opposing the project.

Silicon Valley North

The BC Liberals are straight up wooing young people with the promise of Uber and tech start-up culture; the biggest chunk of Clark's platform is devoted to "tech strategy." Horgan has said he's all for ridesharing as long as it doesn't hurt small business, and released his own tech plan last month.

Lead image via THE CANADIAN PRESS.

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