Inside the NDP-Green governing agreement

Raise carbon tax, cut MSP premiums and raise minimum wage to $15

The cooperation agreement between the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green Party calls for increasing the carbon tax starting next year, “immediately” beginning measures to stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and establish a “fair wages commission” to move to a minimum wage of “at least” $15 an hour.

NDP and Green MLAs met at the B.C. legislature Tuesday to sign the agreement, to be forwarded with a letter to Lt. Governor Judith Guichon this week asking for consideration of their status to govern. Opposition MLAs signed the agreement minutes after Premier Christy Clark announced she will call a new session to present a speech from the throne. That would be the united opposition’s first opportunity to defeat the government and propose an NDP government supported by the Greens.

With an NDP government supported by three B.C. Green MLAs, the carbon tax would rise by $5 to $35 a tonne in April 2018, continuing to rise by $5 a year until it reaches $50 a tonne by 2021, as dictated by the federal government.

The parties have agreed to proceed with a 50-per-cent reduction of Medical Services Plan in January 2018, as promised in the NDP platform. The NDP intends to stick to its plan to eliminate MSP entirely within four years, with some of the burden shifting to the income tax system.

The agreement does not include specifics on liquefied natural gas, but meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets would make it more difficult for large projects to proceed.

Education, seniors care, child care and Metro Vancouver transit improvements are listed as priorities for improvement, but there are few specifics. The agreement echoes the NDP platform, pledging to meet government guidelines for for public and private care homes.

READ: full agreement here

Other highlights of the agreement:

• Neither party has the right to unilaterally dissolve parliament, which would sit for four and a half years to move the scheduled election date to the fall of 2021. Spring and fall sessions of the B.C. legislature would be made mandatory.

• Legislation would be introduced to hold a referendum on proportional representation in the fall of 2018.

• The Greens are recognized as a third party, which provides additional money for support staff and increased pay for the leader, house leader and caucus whip.

• Both parties recognize the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation agreement.

• Put BC Hydro’s Site C dam project to immediate review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, but construction would continue, with major contracts already let and work in the river underway.