The big picture behind the political crisis in B.C.’s ruling party

Statement by the Communist Party of BC Provincial Executive, October 24. 2022

The disqualification of Anjali Addapurai from the governing NDP’s leadership race has set off political turmoil in British Columbia. Given the ups and downs of politics, it is far too early to make predictions about the impact on the NDP’s next electoral campaign. For the Communist Party, it is more important to examine this controversy with a much wider political, economic and environmental lens.

It would be unfair for another registered provincial party to enter the heated debates around the NDP’s internal decision-making process, so we will not comment on that matter. But considering that the NDP was elected in 2017 on a wave of popular anger against the brazenly pro-corporate Liberals, we have some observations on the deeper sources of this political crisis.

Based on our own long experience in activist movements as well as in electoral politics, we disagree with the view that Appadurai’s leadership bid represented an attempted takeover of the NDP. For huge numbers of British Columbians, including many long-time NDP supporters and members, this was a chance to speak out against the Horgan government’s failure to meet their hopes and expectations.

Our party welcomed the defeat of the Liberals, and we are not indifferent to the need for reforms. Particularly during the NDP-Green minority government, public pressure won increases in the minimum wage and social welfare rates, expanded child care, and other positive steps. But these victories were far too limited to seriously improve the lives of most working people. The Horgan government left the Liberal tax gifts to the corporations and upper-income earners in place, and approved the Site C dam and tax breaks for LNG projects. After winning a big majority in 2020, the BC NDP acted openly to protect corporate power, and has become more closely aligned with big resource corporations and health privatizers. Corporate lobbyists with long-standing connections to the NDP are active in Victoria. Despite its supposedly “pro-union” stance and the number of union leaders on the NDP executive, the government has kept pay rates for public sector workers well below inflation. Given these realities (and much more could be said), many NDP supporters are deeply disenchanted.

Here and elsewhere, growing numbers of people young and old are convinced that the capitalist system offers no prospect to narrow the gap between rich and poor, or to avert the climate catastrophe which is devastating the planet. Seeking radical change, some have joined the Communist Party to fight for socialism, while others take different paths. When Appadurai entered the leadership race as a self-declared “climate champion”, thousands joined or rejoined the NDP in hopes of winning social reforms, economic equality, climate justice, Indigenous rights, and other advances.

Our own view is that the NDP, like other social democratic parties, is deeply committed to an ideology based on limited reforms to capitalism; electing one leader with a progressive outlook is insufficient to change the NDP’s fundamental nature. Still, we are deeply sympathetic to the dismay felt by Appadurai’s supporters, deprived of an opportunity to change the direction of their party. We urge them to remain active in struggles for fundamental reforms, and to help build a powerful coalition of labour and people’s forces for change, including at the electoral level. To those who want a revolutionary socialist alternative to capitalist exploitation, environmental crisis and imperialist war, the Communist Party welcomes your enquiries.

For more information, contact BC Communist Party office, 604-254-9836 or 604-255-2041