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The road ahead for B.C. politics

What the agreement between the BC NDP and Green Party says, and what that could mean for the province's future

BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sign an agreement on creating a stable minority government during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

British Columbia is poised for a new government after the province's New Democrats and Greens signed an agreement to topple Premier Christy Clark's Liberals.

The 10-page agreement outlines the policy initiatives the two parties will pursue while the Greens prop up the NDP for four years.

Here's what you need to know about what's in the agreement, and what it means for B.C.

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A ship receives its load of oil from the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s Westeridge loading dock in Burnaby, British Columbia, on June 4, 2015.

Kinder Morgan

The parties will "immediately employ every tool available" to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, increase in tanker traffic and transportation of raw bitumen.

Both the NDP and the Greens had opposed the project, in stark contrast to the BC Liberals, who approved it earlier this year.

The parties will now find themselves at odds with the NDP government in Alberta and with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says the expanded pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast is in the national interest. Both Mr. Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley repeated their insistence Tuesday that the project must proceed with or without B.C.'s support.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria, B.C.

Proportional representation

The agreement says a referendum on proportional representation will take place in the fall of 2018, concurrent with the municipal election cycle.

The NDP platform had said the party would hold a referendum on a proportional voting system. The Green Party had pledged to introduce proportional representation and to move the fixed provincial election date to October instead of May. The legislation proposed by the parties would shift the 2021 provincial election date to the fall.

B.C. has already had two unsuccessful referendums, first in 2005 and then again in 2009, on a form of proportional representation known as single-transferable vote.

BC Green leader Andrew Weaver and BC New Democrat leader John Horgan look at each other while standing with all Member of the Legislative Assembly-elect from the B.C. Green and New Democrat caucuses.

Electoral finance

The parties say they will introduce legislation to ban corporate and union donations and contributions from non-residents. The legislation will also place limits on individual contributions and "eliminate any other means by which individuals or entities may wield undue influence over government."

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Both parties had campaigned on banning corporate and union donations and setting limits on individual contributions.

The issue has been the source of considerable debate over the past year after a Globe and Mail investigation found lobbyists had donated to parties using their clients' money, which is prohibited. The RCMP is investigating.

Climate change

The parties will implement a carbon-tax increase of $5 a tonne per year, beginning April 1, 2018. They will expand the tax to fugitive emissions and to slash-pile burning.

The NDP had said it would phase in increases of $6 a tonne in 2020, $7 a tonne in 2021 and $8 a tonne in 2022 to bring the tax line with federal targets. The Greens had said the party would increase the tax by $10 a tonne per year for four years, starting in 2018.

A photo of the Site C dam site taken Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Site C

The Site C hydroelectric dam project in the province's northeast will immediately be referred to the BC Utilities Commission to study its economic viability and effects.

The NDP had said it would review the construction of the $8.8-billion Site C project and make a decision after the election. The Greens had said the party opposed the project altogether, calling it "unnecessary and destructive."

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Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said Tuesday the discussion around Site C was "very hard at times" but his party and the NDP reached an agreement on how to move forward.

A sold sticker is seen placed on a for sale sign outside a house in east Vancouver, B.C.

Housing

The parties say they will increase the supply of affordable housing and "take action to deal with the speculation and fraud that is driving up prices." They will also tighten rules "that protect good landlords and tenants and ensure the resources necessary exist to resolve disputes fairly and in a timely way."

But otherwise, the agreement says little about what policies a minority NDP government would adopt.

The NDP had said it would create 11,400 new units of affordable housing each year for 10 years. The Green Party had promised $750-million a year for government-subsidized affordable housing. The Greens had also pledged a 30-per-cent foreign-buyers tax to be applied across the province – BC NDP Leader John Horgan said Tuesday the parties disagree on that proposal but do agree on the need to move quickly when it comes to speculation and money laundering.

A TransLink bus travels on West Broadway in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday March 22, 2017.

Transit

The agreement promises immediate action to improve transit and transportation infrastructure in co-operation with the Mayors' Council and the federal government.

The NDP had said it would pay 40 per cent of all capital costs for new transit in the region and eliminate all tolls on bridges. The Greens had said the party would not cap nor eliminate tolls.

Mr. Horgan said Tuesday he will proceed with the elimination of tolls on bridges because his party believes they are unfair. Mr. Weaver said he does not agree on the issue of tolls but will support the NDP's budget.

Health care

The parties say they would develop a proposal to implement an essential drugs program, which would be designed to reduce the costs of prescription drugs. They would also "protect the public health-care system," invest in care for seniors and implement a mental health and addiction strategy.

The wording of the prescription drug proposal is taken directly from the Green Party platform – the party had also called for the mental-health and addiction strategy. The NDP similarly pledged mental-health supports and cheaper prescription drugs. The NDP platform also promised new hospitals, a vow that can be found in Tuesday's agreement though specifics are not provided.

When it comes to health-care premiums, the agreement says they will be eliminated, though it's not clear when.

The NDP campaigned on a platform to eliminate the premiums within four years. The Greens had said they would eliminate the premiums and roll them into the payroll and income-tax systems so the payments are progressive, following a model used in Ontario.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark leaves after a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday.

Minimum wage

A Fair Wages Commission will "be tasked with establishing a pathway to a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour and overseeing regular rate reviews."

The NDP had said it would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Green Party had said it would create the Fair Wages Commission.

Poverty

A province-wide poverty-reduction strategy will be implemented.

Both parties had called for such a strategy.

Education

The parties say they will fast track funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 education, make postsecondary education more accessible and affordable, and invest in early childhood education and childcare.

Both parties had promised more money for the K-12 and postsecondary systems. Exact figures were not provided in the agreement.


NDP-Green agreement by The Globe and Mail on Scribd

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