Statement by the Communist Party of BC Provincial Executive Committee, Nov. 19, 2021

The succession of natural disasters hammering British Columbia and other parts of the world this year are warning signs that massive economic and social change is needed to avert catastrophe. Record heat waves, uncontrolled wildfires and massive flooding are not isolated “once in a century” events – these are interlinked phenomena which support the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed now, to limit temperature increases at levels which can allow a sustainable global environment.

This year’s series of crises was completely predictable, and yet governments have continually failed to prepare mitigation plans. They remain tied to neoliberal economic and political models based on boosting private profits, rather than protecting human life and the natural environment. Federal and provincial budgets allocate tens of billions of dollars for military hardware, or to subsidize fossil fuel extraction and export projects, but totally inadequate amounts for renewable energy, low-income housing, or robust public health care systems.

Make no mistake – Communists categorically reject the right-wing narrative that “governments” are responsible for the problems faced by working class people. A strong public sector is crucial to blunt corporate attacks against the interests of Indigenous peoples and workers.

However, we insist that instead of acting on four-year electoral cycles, governments must focus on emergency planning to respond quickly during climate disasters, and to tackle pandemics, the housing crisis, and the opioid death crisis. This is urgent in British Columbia, where the Horgan NDP government has fallen miserably short on all these challenges.

While Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, this government gives full support for the Site C Dam and the CGL pipeline, and huge subsidies for the LNG industry. Economic and social inequalities are growing wider, yet the Horgan NDP has not reversed Liberal-era tax breaks which give billions every year to upper-income earners and corporations. The government’s failed covid response has meant inconsistent health measures, foot-dragging on an employer-paid sick day program, and resistance against demands by teachers, parents and students for measures to reduce the spread of covid in schools.

When deadly record temperatures were forecast in late June, this government failed to take serious emergency action, and at first shrugged off the “heat dome” deaths. Instead, Horgan and his cabinet ministers were celebrating a premature victory lap in the fight against covid-19. On November 12, rivers were rising fast and a record rainfall was reaching the coast, yet the cabinet did not meet to declare a state of emergency until five days later! Even while the flood waters were still rising, the latest invasion of Wet’suwet’en territories was underway, after BC Solicitor General Mike Farnworth approved deployment of the RCMP’s so-called “Community-Industry Response Group” (C-IRG) unit to arrest land defenders resisting the CoastalGasLink pipeline project.

This morally bankrupt record of support for the fossil fuel industry but slow action to protect people is appalling. Even when the federal Liberals and the BC NDP eventually respond to these various crises, all too often it’s “too little and too late”. The same is the case with the biggest challenge of all – the need to shift from a fossil-fuel-driven capitalist economy to one based on renewable energy and a sustainable future. We cannot make this fundamental change as long as private profit remains the driving force behind political decision-making. Real, lasting change depends on uniting to win a socialist future, a society in which people and nature are the priority.

For more information, contact Communist Party of BC leader Kimball Cariou, 604-255-2041, or the Vancouver Island organizer for the Communist Party, Tyson Strandlund, 250-883-7321.