Vote!

Today is election day. British Columbians have an important and clear choice to make. We can go back to the BC Liberals—who cut taxes for the rich at the expense of everyone else. Or we can keep helping people—with John Horgan’s plan to keep us healthy, safe and secure through the pandemic and beyond.

Together, we can help people get through this pandemic. We can build a BC where strong public services are always there when people need them. We can create good jobs as we meet the challenge of the climate crisis. And we can work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to ensure that everyone benefits.

But we can only build on the progress we’ve made if British Columbians vote for their BC NDP candidate today. Get out and vote—and bring this home.

Important election day information:

  • Polls are open from 8am to 8pm, pacific time
  • You can vote at any polling place in BC. To find the one nearest you, visit bcndp.ca/where-to-vote
  • Make sure you bring your government-issued photo ID with you to your polling place. If you do not have that, find out other ID options here: https://elections.bc.ca/voting/voter-id/
  • As long as you are in line before 8pm pacific tonight, you can vote.
  • If you requested a ballot and haven’t sent it yet, bring it with you to a polling place before polls close on Election night to make sure it’s received in time.

How Andrew Wilkinson helped a campaign donor devastate Prince Rupert’s economy

As a senior civil servant in 2005, Andrew Wilkinson facilitated a deal between the City of Prince Rupert and a China-based company called Sun Wave Forest Products to reopen a shuttered pulp mill.

When Sun Wave reneged on the deal and left Prince Rupert in the lurch years later, Wilkinson represented the company in a lawsuit against the city. The legal fight between Sun Wave and Prince Rupert cost the city millions in legal fees and hampered the local economy as the court battle dragged on for years:

  • When Wilkinson was Deputy Minister of Economic Development in 2005 and 2006, he facilitated the sale of the closed Skeena Cellulose Pulp Mill in Prince Rupert to Sun Wave Forest Products.
  • That company received a 25-year property tax holiday from the city in return for a promise to re-open the mill by December 31, 2007.
  • When Sun Wave broke its promise and owed millions in back taxes, the City of Prince Rupert took back the site and sought to find a new owner and use for it.
  • Despite his previous role in government on the file, Wilkinson represented Sun Wave when the company sued Prince Rupert between 2010 and 2012.
  • The protracted legal proceedings with Sun Wave cost the City of Prince Rupert $3.5 million and prevented the city from finding another use for the site during the dispute.

Nathan Cullen, Stikine BC NDP candidate:
“When Sun Wave backed out of the bad deal Wilkinson put together, he cashed in and helped the company sue the taxpayers of Prince Rupert. He looked out for himself and BC Liberal donors, and the people of Prince Rupert paid the price.”

Jennifer Rice, North Coast BC NDP candidate:
“Andrew Wilkinson should have walked away from this given his role putting this deal together. He knew exactly how much our town was struggling. Instead, he helped a company devastate our community when we were vulnerable.”

Joy Thorkelson, former Prince Rupert councillor:
“Sun Wave filed lawsuit after lawsuit against our town. It cost us millions and impacted services and taxes. They treated the mill workers and the people of our town like they were nothing. And Andrew Wilkinson helped them.”

Timeline:

2003: Andrew Wilkinson is appointed Deputy Minister of Economic Development (LinkedIn)

2005: Discussions begin with the City of Prince Rupert, Sun Wave and the government of BC on Sun Wave Forest Products on the acquisition of the closed Skeena Pulp Mill in Prince Rupert. (The Globe and Mail)

2005: In his capacity as Deputy Minister, Wilkinson writes a detailed five-page letter to Sun Wave Forest Products. That letter provides information to the company on a number of topics including property taxes, forestry matters and environmental issues related to Sun Wave’s purchase.  “The government of British Columbia welcomes your ideas for restarting the Prince Rupert pulp mill, and we will do our best to provide you with clear answers to your various questions.”  (The Globe and Mail)

2005-2007: Companies involved with the Sun Wave project donate nearly $15,000 to the BC Liberals (Elections BC: Sun Wave & CGR Investments)

2005: Wilkinson indicates that he is involved in forthcoming submission to Treasury Board and Cabinet on the issue. (The Globe and Mail)

2005-2006: Sun Wave Forest Products purchases the mill site and equipment (Urbas.ca)

2006: Prince Rupert agrees to give Sun Wave a 25-year municipal tax holiday in return for reopening the mill by December 31, 2007 (BiV)

2008: After the mill does not open as promised, Prince Rupert moves to acquire the site in return for back taxes. (Black Press)

2010-2012: Now working in the private sector as a corporate lawyer, Andrew Wilkinson represents Sun Wave in a lawsuit over equipment that delays the city’s occupation of the site. (Statement of Claim)

2012: Wilkinson wins the BC Liberal candidate nomination in Vancouver-Quilchena. Bill Belsey, the former BC Liberal MLA for North Coast, takes over the case from Wilkinson. (Black Press)

2012: Jobs Minister Pat Bell provides internal government emails to Belsey about the issue. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

2013-14: Belsey investigated is found guilty of breaking two sections of the Lobbyists Registration Act for not registering as a lobbyist. He appeals the decision but it is upheld. (The Tyee)

2010-2017: The dispute drags on, costing Prince Rupert $3.5 million dollars in legal costs. (The Northern View)

2017: The City finds a tenant for the site, Pembina Pipeline Corporation. (The Northern View)

Wilkinson’s plan for “reassessment” of minimum wage shows he would cancel next increase, says Bains

BC NDP Candidate Harry Bains has written to Andrew Wilkinson about the BC Liberal Leader’s commitment for a “wholesale reassessment” of scheduled minimum wage increases.

Wilkinson’s platform is silent on his plans for the minimum wage. But when asked about his plans in May, Wilkinson called for a “wholesale reassessment” and suggested the next increase scheduled for June 1, 2021 should not go ahead as planned:

Mike Smyth: So put up the minimum wage or not? Keep it the same? Raise it? What?

Wilkinson:We should probably stick with the scheduled minimum wage increase this summer and then we’re gonna have to have a wholesale reassessment of where this economy is going. Because people are very, very worried about whether they’re going to have a job at all, let alone what the wage will be.” (CKNW Audio, May 6, 2020)

In the same interview, Wilkinson made comments diminishing the contribution that essential workers make every day during the COVID-19 pandemic:

We’ve got cashiers starting at 16 dollars an hour for scanning stuff at the supermarket. So it remains to be seen. We’ve got to keep up with the price of goods so that people can afford to live. But at the same time, that also drives up the price of groceries.”

“You know, people working as cashiers in the grocery stores are making about 16 bucks an hour as a starting wage. That’s good. But is it sustainable?

The 171,000 British Columbians who earn minimum wage are scheduled to receive a raise from $14.60 to $15.20 on June 1, 2021. The BC NDP will tie the minimum wage to inflation after that.

BC NDP Candidate Harry Bains:
“Andrew Wilkinson’s comments diminish the contribution of essential workers and show that he’s not committed to giving minimum wage earners the raise they need during this pandemic. It’s disappointing that he has not been clear with British Columbians about his plans for the minimum wage.”

Horgan to protect and revitalize BC’s wild salmon

CAMPBELL RIVER — John Horgan was back on Vancouver Island today, promising that a re-elected BC NDP would continue bringing people, communities, and governments together to protect and revitalize BC’s wild salmon populations.

“Wild salmon are crucial to the success of our economy, the prosperity of coastal communities, and the lives of Indigenous peoples,” said Horgan. “The challenges affecting wild salmon stocks in BC are complex. It’s important that we work with people and communities to find solutions.”

After 16 years of BC Liberals ignoring the diminishing salmon populations, Horgan said he was proud of the progress his government has made. He pointed specifically to partnering with the federal government on the $143 million BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which he said a re-elected BC NDP government would work to double.

“Our BC NDP government has worked hard to ensure wild salmon are protected for future generations,” said Horgan. “We have invested in projects that will help us support wild salmon stocks and fisheries, which are vital to coastal communities, Indigenous peoples, and industries. Together, we will continue that important work in the years to come.”

Horgan said he would also build on the historic, government-to-government Broughton Archipelago process, which brought Indigenous peoples and industry together to create a more sustainable future for all communities and workers.

John Horgan and the BC NDP will work to protect BC wild salmon by: 

  • Supporting innovation in fish hatcheries
  • Working to process more BC-caught fish in BC
  • Stepping up protection of fish habitat through our biodiversity strategy
  • Creating a watershed security strategy
  • Establish a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous and local initiatives

Average family will save an additional $3,400 a year under Horgan’s plan.

British Columbia is an expensive place to live and it can be tough to balance a household budget here. The pressures created by COVD-19 have only made it harder. 

When the BC Liberals were in power, they gave tax cuts to the top two percent of income earners—and made everyone else pay for it. With tolls, fees and higher medical premiums. Instead of helping those who needed it the most, they gave breaks and deals to those who needed it least. 

John Horgan has worked to bring costs down and make life more secure for families. As a result of the BC NDP, families are already saving thousands of dollars a year.

After the BC Liberals doubled MSP bills, John Horgan eliminated them entirely. Saving families up to $1,800 a year. After housing costs skyrocketed under the BC Liberals, he brought in a speculation tax. Now, 11,000 empty condos are now being used for long-term rentals for people.  After the BC Liberals let rent hikes increase beyond the cost of living, he capped rent hikes to inflation. Saving renters over $300 on average every year.

 Our BC NDP government ended bridge tolls, lowered childcare costs and has a plan to bring ICBC rates down by $400 a year. But there’s still a lot of work to do. Our plan keeps BC moving forward by:

  • Delivering a recovery benefit for British Columbians of up to $1000 for families and $500 for individuals.
  • Improving access to affordable childcare, expanding our $10 a day plan and protecting the $350 childcare fee reduction.
  • Helping people who rent their homes with a rent freeze until 2021 and a renters’ rebate of up to $400 a year.
  • Moving people around more affordably cutting ICBC rates by $400, free transit for kids up to 12, and expanding transit options in growing communities.
  • Expanding the BC Access Grant, giving more middle-class students access to as much as $4,000 a year to help them pay the cost of tuition and textbooks.

Throness compares contraception to eugenics

In an all-candidates debate yesterday, BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness weighed in on the BC NDP’s plan to provide free contraception. Throness compared contraception to eugenics:

“And the other thing that I feel about this is that it contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where, you know, poor people shouldn’t have babies. And so we can’t force them to have contraception so we’ll give it to them for free. And maybe they’ll have fewer babies. So there will be fewer poor people in the future. And to me, that contains an odor that I don’t like. And so I don’t really support what the NDP is doing there.”

Wilkinson’s plan to keep legal costs in car insurance would cost people $400 more

Andrew Wilkinson’s plan to cancel the BC NDP’s Enhanced Care model and keep sky-high legal costs in the system would cost drivers hundreds more each year – for both public and private car insurance.

Evidence from Ontario, Alberta, the former BC Liberal government, and private insurers themselves shows that private insurance costs more and makes it harder for many drivers to get coverage.

But even if private insurance wasn’t more expensive, Andrew Wilkinson would cancel the single most important measure: cutting down on the astronomical legal costs that are driving up insurance rates for everyone.

The BC NDP’s Enhanced Care model cuts down on hundreds of millions every year in legal costs, allowing ICBC to improve care for people and reduce car insurance by 20% starting May 1, 2021. That’s an average savings of $400 a year.

That legislation passed on July 15, 2020. The BC Liberals voted against it, ran an online petition campaign, and spoke against it in the legislature 16 times.

Personal injury law firms received $500 million in settlements from ICBC last year. 14 of those firms have donated a combined $154,926 to the BC Liberals.

The Trial Lawyers Association of BC is registered as a third party advertiser and is distributing leaflets attacking the BC NDP in swing seats, including Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Andrew Wilkinson’s plan to keep hundreds of millions in payments to law firms will cost people more – regardless of whether people are buying public or private insurance.

Wilkinson’s platform hides his tax plans until after election

Andrew Wilkinson’s platform promises to review taxes – but not until after the election:

“Appoint an independent Fair Tax Commission, comprised of non-partisan economic experts, to immediately review all provincial taxes, and to recommend which should be adjusted, reduced or eliminated”

Andrew Wilkinson’s record shows why he won’t tell people which taxes he’ll cut. In the last three years, Wilkinson has supported $3 billion in tax breaks for the richest British Columbians and largest businesses. The taxes that Wilkinson has opposed since 2017 include:

  • Employer Health Tax on biggest 15% of businesses: $1.8 billion
  • The speculation and vacancy tax: $80 million
  • School tax on homes over $3 million: $200 million
  • Tax on top 2% of income earners: $328 million
  • Tax on top 1% of income earners: $216 million
  • 1% corporate income tax increase: $296 million
  • Total: $2.9 billion

Wilkinson’s record on these taxes is available here.

BC NDP Candidate Selina Robinson:

“British Columbians deserve to know where the parties stand on issues like taxes and public services before the election. Andrew Wilkinson’s record is clear. He supports billions in tax breaks for the richest British Columbians. He’s hiding those plans until after the election because he knows everyone else will pay for it with higher fees and cuts to services like healthcare and education. Andrew Wilkinson is a risk people can’t afford.”

BC Liberal failures in seniors care

What the BC Liberals did:

  • BC Liberal Bills 29 and 94 devastated long-term care and led to the layoffs of 10,000 workers, most of whom were women. This led to wage cuts and forced many workers to work at multiple facilities.
  • When the pandemic hit, this led to the spread of COVID-19 between facilities. BC’s single-site order stopped that practice.
  • When the BC Liberals left office, the Seniors Advocate reported that 90% of care homes failed to meet the government’s own staffing standards.

The BC NDP is fixing the problems the BC Liberals left behind:

  • Hiring 7,000 new health care workers in long term and assisted living, and is on track to meet or exceed staffing standards in every region of the province by 2021.
  • Eliminating multi-bed rooms in health authority-owned long-term care facilities, giving seniors more dignity.
  • Building new, better public long-term care homes with new beds, instead of handing hundreds of millions of dollars to for-profit corporations.
  • Making sure private operators deliver better care with new requirements to ensure they deliver the care they are paid to and are more accountable for the public dollars they receive.
  • Paying care workers fairly with “levelled up” wages and benefits, even after the pandemic ends.

Wilkinson’s plan to eliminate the Employer Health Tax would mean cuts to healthcare

For years, Andrew Wilkinson consistently fought and voted against the Employers’ Health Tax, which was created in 2018 to fund the BC NDP’s elimination of Medical Services Premiums, which saves British Columbians up to $1,800 a year.

Wilkinson and his MLAs criticized the EHT 348 times in the legislature. (Hansard: 2018, 2019, 2020)

“I’d like to, first of all, get rid of the unnecessary NDP taxes that have been piled on this year. That starts with this Employers Health Tax.” –Andrew Wilkinson, CKNW, May 17, 2018.

EHT brings in $1.8 billion every year to fund healthcare and other services. If Andrew Wilkinson eliminates the EHT, he has two ways to pay for it: cuts to healthcare, or raising fees – like bringing back MSP.

The EHT is a progressive payroll tax paid by the largest 15% of BC businesses. Businesses with payrolls under $500,000 a year pay no EHT. Only businesses with payroll over $1,500,000 pay the full amount of 1.95%. 96% of the revenue comes from the largest 5% of employers.