Yesterday as you all know a number of the BC Liberal executive resigned in the Surrey region. Putting pen to paper as they say, gutsy Surrey-Tynehead Vice President has put his thoughts and words down on a brand new web page.( http://www.jamesplett.com/)
I invited James as a guest blogger and he has accepted.
With thanks and without further adieu, James Plett:
Why I Quit the BC Liberals
March 1, 2013
You may actually have heard elsewhere, but today I have resigned my post as the Vice President of the Surrey-Tynehead BC Liberal Riding Association and have requested my membership be terminated immediately with the BC Liberal Party.
My resignation has nothing to do with the riding per se, nor with Dave Hayer — the best MLA in BC — nor with the riding’s acclaimed candidate, Amrik Virk, but rather with the pattern of arrogance, deceit, and downright unethical behaviour of the BC Liberal Party.
The most recent scandal — “ethnicgate” — is one of the most appalling things I have read about this party doing. Government staffers, who are required to be non-partisan, put together a document explaining how the BC Liberal government could take advantage of horribly racist crimes in order to get a jump in the ethnic vote. The document talked about leveraging an apology for the Chinese Head Tax and the Komagatu Maru incident, to name two. This document was circulated among some of the highest levels of provincial government.
What makes it so repugnant is that the government misused taxpayer dollars to put together a document explaining how the government could misuse taxpayer dollars further and to offer apologies for absolutely horrible things all for a bump in the polls. Not to actually apologize for the events, but with the end goal of winning popularity points.
Ethnicgate is just the latest string in a series of scandals that have plagued the BC Liberal Party. Unofficially, I checked out months ago, but I am horribly embarassed that my name was still associated with that party for all this time. Whether we’re talking about the John van Dongen tossup or the incident with John Doyle, it is pretty clear that this party is being run by crooks.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Numerous leaders of riding associations have already resigned, and part of the reason involves the parachuting in of acclaimed candidates. Basically, the notion of a parliamentary democracy is that anyone can run and be elected. The reality is that you need to be a member of a big party (typically). What’s more is that you need to be vetted and essentially hired by that party in order to run. It doesn’t matter if you have amazing credentials, if the party has someone else marked for that riding, you will not get it. They will not give it to you. They will put your application in a folder and toss it aside. It doesn’t matter if “the people” want you, it doesn’t matter if they would have elected you. What matters is that some obscure shadow council likes you. It’s an affront to democracy. What’s happening across BC is that candidates are being acclaimed, just like that, with no warning or notification to the various riding associations. Amrik Virk, who is himself a very great man and someone I would have supported anyway, for example, was acclaimed the other day. That’s it. No choice. On March 4th, the “nomination meeting” will happen. There won’t be a yes/no vote, nothing. There will be an acceptance speech. This is happening across BC as the powers-that-be in the BC Liberal Party decides which chess pieces it will deploy across the province. Whether you’re a member of the party or not, it doesn’t matter. You have no say — and what’s more, that’s the point.
The Party expects your allegiance. They don’t want you to speak out. They’ll smear you if you do. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” they’ll say. I have given years to the BC Liberal Party and people like me are being shuffled aside across the province. It’s horrible. The Party is only as strong as its weakest link, but chains of people are being discarded. The Party expects absolute allegiance and absolute servitude. If you deny it that, they will cast you aside.
My decision has been months in the making. So long ago, I decided I would only stay along to support Dave Hayer. I wouldn’t go to any events that didn’t involve him. I endured dozens of phone calls from the Liberals asking for money; I declined every time, advising that I would only give money directly to my MLA. I would support him, not the party.
I was relieved when Dave announced he would not run in the next election. This meant that my tenure with The Party could come to an end. I could leave with a clean conscience, knowing that I didn’t support the depravity that The Party had now come to represent. I was proud, after all, of the work I had done: I had helped Dave get elected and helped work on numerous campaigns. I had been a paid employee of The Party and had done a lot of good work for them. I worked on a number of initiatives and helped form a number of pieces of policy. I’m not at all embarrassed by what I’ve done or what I’ve helped do.
That changed with Ethnicgate. I can no longer stand idly by. I can no longer watch from the sidelines as The Party crashes itself into the ground. That seems to be the fate of political parties in BC, but I cannot stand idly by.
To be a true political observer, one must adopt a sort of moral pragmatism. Under Henry James’s pragmatism, everything is a means to an end and the means only matter insofar as the end is valuable. Under this system, morality is discarded and left at the wayside in order to develop good or otherwise valuable policy.
It is under this system that The Party – in fact, all political parties – seem to want us to live. Ethnicgate was OK to the people who orchestrated it because the ends – re-electing The Party and locking the socialist hordes outside the gate for four more years – justified the means. Pragmatism can turn a perfectly reasonable or otherwise “moral” person into the kind of depraved individual who would do this kind of thing.
I cannot abide this system any longer. The people responsible for Ethnicgate – every single person – are categorically morally reprehensible people. It makes me physically ill to consider the type of person who could, in good or bad conscience, do what they did. I cannot and will not stand by or sit on my hands or be idle in any other way. This is and was the final straw for me.
I worked with a number of amazing people over the years (just over six years, actually) and made a number of great friends. I have no regrets about what I’ve done and remain proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am, however, saddened it has come to this. My resignation is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last. At this point, the spectre of the BC NDP – the “socialist horde at the gates” — is no longer frightening. That trope – a BC Liberal staple for years – is stale and meaningless. It barely worked in 2009, and it certainly won’t work in 2013. Now, myself and so many people like me have to ask ourselves: what’s worse, four years of the NDP or four more years of the BC Liberals?
Honestly, I don’t know the answer.