Who were the big winners in BC in yesterday’s election? The Conservatives. The big losers? The Liberals. Though they downplayed their hallmark Green Shift during their British Columbia campaign swings in the post–financial meltdown phase of the election, the Liberals still ended up taking it on the chin for Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax. The Greens, though they increased their percentage of the vote, didn’t win a single seat. Combine their vote with the Liberals’, and you don’t equal those who voted for even the NDP, let alone the Conservatives.
This isn’t a defeat for the environment. It’s a defeat for the mainstream environmental movement. The two are not the same. Greens managed to convince the leader of a major national political party to adopt their prescription for saving the planet. He made that prescription the central plank in his party platform. The Liberal seat count and share of the electoral vote dropped.
Will mainstream greens retool their dumb anti-American take on every issue? Probably not. It’s tempting to say who cares, this election proves they’re irrelevant. But the environment is not irrelevant. Those who feel it is their special policy preserve could, conceivably, retool and re-emerge with a winning strategy. Some people do learn hard lessons.
For this reason, the Conservatives, and NDP, should have a hard look at last night’s results. They have dodged a bullet. The question is, can they collectively develop meaningful—and electorally resonant—environmental policy before the Liberals and their Green allies do?