Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The confusing positions of Mike Harcourt - former BC NDP member - and former BC premier

Mike Harcourt, Darlene Marzari and Joy MacPhail - March 22, 2007
Mike Harcourt is a good guy - I've always liked him and found him to be a decent person in politics.

Which is why I'm very confused about his statements to the Globe and Mail newspaper saying he has let his BC New Democratic Party membership lapse because of three past events:  

1. The BC NDP opposing the unfair BC Liberal carbon tax in the 2009 provincial election.

2. The forced removal of former BC NDP leader Carole James in 2010 after she lost the 2005 and 2009 elections and indicated she would continue as leader in 2013.

3. BC NDP leader Adrian Dix's decision in mid-campaign of the 2013 election to reverse his position to wait and see the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion application before deciding to support or oppose it and instead oppose it immediately.

I disagree with Mike Harcourt on the carbon tax - but that's four years ago and happened under Carole James.  The BC NDP did not oppose the carbon tax in the 2013 election under Adrian Dix.

That's a puzzling position for Harcourt to take.

I regret that Carole James did not make a decision to step down as leader after two election defeats and other issues but regardless of that, it happened three years ago.

Mike Harcourt endorsed MLA Mike Farnworth in the 2011 leadership campaign, so presumably the first two items were not reason to let his BC NDP membership expire and stay out of the leadership endorsement business.  [I endorsed Adrian Dix in 2011.]

That leaves the Kinder Morgan pipeline decision - and I agree with Mike Harcourt that it was a mistake - and I've written that here and in 24 Hours Vancouver and The Tyee several times since the election.

But Mike Harcourt doesn't agree with Mike Harcourt on Kinder Morgan!

At least, Harcourt now disagrees with Harcourt then.

Here's what Harcourt told CKNW's Bill Good on May 13, 2013 in a discussion of the election and the Kinder Morgan reversal:

Bill Good: "But Mr Dix had said for months that his principled position was to wait until an application had been made and then for there to be a proper review and suddenly he…."

Mike Harcourt: "That's not the issue. The issue is is this a good idea for an inner-city port in Vancouver, and the answer is no. There's a lot of really necessary port facilities, and we all understand how important the Vancouver Port Authority is."

"I was on the board for six years, so I know how key it is to the Canadian economy, and adding to the wheat and canola and the coal and all the other really important port facilities that are already in the Port of Vancouver and Burrard Inlet and putting a major oil export port there is, I think, a bad idea and you might as well let people know where you stand on that sooner rather than later." 

It's also sad to read a blog item I posted in March 2007 when Mike Harcourt brought down the house at a celebration of former NDP cabinet minister Darlene Marzari.

Here's what I wrote - and Mike said then:

But it was Harcourt's comments about some former premiers that brought roars from the crowd of mostly - but not all - longtime New Democrats.

"I'm one of the former NDP premiers who still holds a membership card," Harcourt quipped to howls of laughter. 

Take that Ujjal Dosanjh! Pow to you, Bob Rae!

I am disappointed that Mike Harcourt has now left the NDP.

But with reasons as confusing as these, I'm even more puzzled than disappointed.



scotty on denman said...

Harcourt didn't have to announce his lapsing membership---but he did. I can't help but get the feeling there's an element of calculation going on here. Finally, after some embarrassing, hear-a-pin-drop silence, the race to replace Adrian Dix is on with the second and third place leadership contenders from last time having lately declared---or should I say, re-declared? Is there a timeliness factor here? Did Mike hint at his preference between the two? It's hard to tell but John Horgan sure didn't drop a stitch in picking up the narrative.In any case, he doesn't have to walk around on eggs trying to explain his qualified approval of LNG and Kinder Morgan now that Mike's written himself into the script.

I think Carole James' demise has as much to do with her reluctance to move in for the kill when her rival was on his knees (because of BC Rail and the HST) as it did with her failure to win her previous two elections. Watching Campbell twisting in the wind with nary a peep from his opponent had to be more frustrating for NDPers than lost elections of days gone by---they're used to that, after all. Yes, both Mike and Carole are siblings of moderation but I wouldn't expect Mike to pass over, without mention, a truckload of BC Liberal transgressions just because their leader got bit by a couple of them. Mike's insinuation that Carole got gooned by some sort of NDP goon faction of which he disapproved curiously and conveniently glosses over the fact that MLAs simply doing their jobs by conveying their constituents' leadership concerns ---to the leader herself, of all people!--were summarily isolated and attacked. Who was the real goon-squad here?...it seems you might not get a clear answer from Mike on that one.

His point's taken on the Kinder Morgan aspect of the election loss---that Dix's flip-flop left resource-based workers in the cold. But that's been clear from flip-flop day forward. There is much, much more to the loss than just KM, however pipeline proponents like to analyze it (that is, paint the NDP loss as a de facto approval of pipelines in general).

I'm more inclined to think Harcourt spotted a space to insert his influence into the NDP narrative, a simple, good old fashioned tree shaking, an attempt at rewriting what has been looking like an NDP tragicomedy. By saying things from the outside (symbolically, perhaps) that no one dares say on the inside has stirred up more interest in the NDP than anything else since last May's electoral thrashing. It's got the feel of real drama, finally.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that he has been offered a good job with oil and gas industry. Just asking.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that Mike Harcourt has been offered a job he couldn't refuse with big oil and gas. Juat asking.

Anonymous said...

Did Mike approach the media about this or vice versa?

I'm guessing the answer, and if I'm right, then I'm a cynic.

We'll leave it at that.

And just to clarify, I let my membership lapse after Carole didn't offer any support to our union when the company I worked for was union busting.

Some local MLA's supported us, but not a peep out of Carole.

Yeah, we weren't happy, my fellow members and I, after the thousands of dollars and hours we'd volunteered to past NDP campaigns.

I've reupped again. We'lll see who gets to be leader.

I don't know what game Mike is playing, but really. Why, Mike, why?

Anonymous said...

Harcourt had the answers. Simply the NDP has lost its way.

The most laughable comment statement is "Carole didn't offer any support to our union when the company I worked for was union busting".

So why should the NDP support any union? The NDP is there for the overall blue collar worker (as Harcourt says) union or not.

Heed the advice of Harcourt. He was actually a good Premier even though he was boring.

Harold.Steves said...

As noted Mikes policy positions have been inconsistent. When he was Mayor of Vancouver he took a very strong stand against developing the "Southlands" Spetifore Farm in Delta when it was voted down by the GVRD (Metro Vancouver) Board.

The BC Government approved removal of the land from the ALR with a requirement that the developer donate 230 acres to the GVRD/Metro Vancouver for a park. Harcourt and the GVRD voted against the plan in spite of the offer of free land. The GVRD subsequently paid the owner $7.5 million for the 230 acres to create Boundary Bay Regional Park.

In spite of paying $7.5 million to keep the land in agriculture, Harcourt came out in favour of the most recent application to develop the Spetifore Farm. I for one, am pleased that Harcourt no longer speaks for the NDP.

Anonymous said...

When Mike fell off his illegally built deck, no hand rail's?, he may have scrambled his brain a bit. I am glad he gets around, and at the time I sure thought he fell on the sword way to early because of Nanaimo, but over all he is probably the most trustworthy senior politician in the last twenty years.

Lary Waldman
Bowen Island

Anonymous said...

So how does one leave the NDP after a long time of devotion and service rising up through the party?

Retire the membership and get the ire of members who were quite supportive of said person or..

in a box..

Strange party. No wonder they are in a mess.

If someone prominent such as Harcourt leaves, the blame shouldn't be on the person, it should mean looking in within.

OccupyMedic said...

Mr. Harcourt leaving the NDP is outstanding news for British Columbia. Let's not forget his history: He was elected in 1991. Part of his election victory was due to his intense lobbying of the environmental movement. He promised to 'end the war in the woods'. He then proceeded to invest public $$$ in Mac Blo & open Claoquot sound to clear-cut logging, sparking one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history. His attempt to shut down the protest through the AG's office (run by Colin Gableman at the time), by shifting the charge from civil to criminal contempt of court, blew up in his face. It is widely viewed as one of the darkest chapters in BC jurisprudence. In the end, he lost. And his attempt to criminalize those arrested (of which I was one) was shot down by the appeals court.
His departure, along with that of Moe Sihota means the NDP can finally shed their neo-liberal dinosaur thinking, STOP trying to pander to BC's non-existent 'center vote', and look to the future. If the NDP actually becomes a progressive party again, I might even consider voting for them.

Anonymous said...

"He then proceeded to invest public $$$ in Mac Blo & open Claoquot sound to clear-cut logging, sparking one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history"

Which caused MB to close the Kennedy Lake Division and throw quite a few good paying IWA guys on the unemployment line. Nice goin' there ace. If there was an agreement to sustainable forestry practices, those jobs would most likely be there even under another owner.

Progressive does mean progress. It does not mean pandering to the Kitsilano Latte Environmentalists.

If the NDP panders to the urban environmentalists, say goodbye to any chance of being government.

BC needs resource jobs but also a balance to social programs and sustainable development.

Harcourt made errors, but so did Glen Clark, and Ujjal Dosanjh as well as Adrian Dix.

Anonymous said...

This sounds a lot like Gordon Wilson hitching himself to the Liberals. The juicy appointment is next.

Anonymous said...

There is no mystery here, it matters not . . . Socred, NDP or BC Lie-Beral they all end up chasing federal and provincial patronage and/or a profitable private sector job once they are out of office.

These "QUISLINGS" promise the world to get elected, then start cutting the special-deals with "friends of the government or the party" and pocket their rewards $$$ down the road.

I expect Mike will soon join Gordie Wilson at Christy Clark's patronage trough.


Anonymous said...

See The Great Devilled Ham has it wrong again. He fails too to see the NDP getting donations from unions, the unions don't do that because they like the colour orange.

Mike with a patronage goodie from Christy Clark? Not going to happen.

Mike will resurrect the Civic Indepedents with Bill here as their communications guru before any patronage job from Christy ever happens.

Be here when it does.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Thanks for a completely unnecessary,meaningless and ultimately destructive act.

Unfortunately Harcourt's given the BC Liberal friendly media the gift that keeps on giving, he'll be the go to guy for political comments from now on.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance, Harcourt always was a big-time loser for all the reasons mentioned here and many more.

Will it be oil and gas, the senate or corporate shill or ?

His public three reasons for quitting the NDP are old and just as stupid as he is. Surely he could have come up with better reasons than those oldies. Stupid is as stupid does.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

There is no 'provincial government' worse and more corrupt than the BC Liars but I'm sure he will be welcomed there and profit nicely in the future.


Anyway glad to see him goooooo, also glad to see Carole, Mo and Jan gone.

Anonymous said...

SO now we see Jenny Kwan move into a $1.9 million dollar house in Kits,
while she is MLA for the DTES.

So she is living a life that many poor people could not afford.

If Kwan had any credibility left, she would take out a place to live along The Drive, and walk to her office on E. 1st.

She like many talk the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.

A Cadillac Socialist. Which isn't new.