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Saanich North/Islands MLA column: Good public policy, not optics, should be government’s goal

NDP have a great opportunity to work collaboratively on shared goals, Green MLA Adam Olsen says
It’s important for all parties in the legislature to work together on shared objectives for the province, Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen says. (Photo courtesy of Adam Olsen)

The multiple intersecting crises we have continued to face this past year requires a different approach to leadership than the divisive and partisan approach of current and past British Columbia governments. We need proactive, responsible governance with a clear vision for a stronger province. Government should clearly tell us the outcomes they want to achieve and be transparent about how they measure progress.

At the heart of the BC Green Caucus’s work is a vision for our province where a person’s needs are met through investments in healthy natural systems and thriving communities, and a government that is transparent and accountable.

We believe public health should inform our policies. All the major challenges we face: health, climate change, housing, addictions, inequality, community resilience, can all be addressed through public health policy.

The first year of this BC NDP majority government was little different than the BC Liberal administrations before them. When evidence-based solutions are proposed, this government either creates delays or passes the issue like a hot potato to different levels of government. We have seen this with old growth, flooding response and policing.

The BC NDP waited decades for their turn to rule British Columbia with a majority, just as the BC Liberals and Social Credit before them. Now that they have the privilege of doing so, they are stuck in a reactive mode trying to manage each issue as a public relations exercise rather than clearly articulating the outcomes they want to achieve. They are preoccupied with the story being told about their government and the BC NDP, rather than making good public policy.

As a result, once again British Columbians are paying the price with our lives and our livelihoods. We are steps behind in fighting COVID-19 as Omicron rolls through our province. The cost of emergency response due to climate change grows, exposing our infrastructure deficit. The trauma at the heart of substance abuse and mental health goes untreated, taking the lives of thousands. Economic inequality in our chaotic housing market is aggravating other social and public health issues.

We are at our best when we work together. I am grateful for my colleague Sonia Furstenau’s compassionate and collaborative leadership. She truly believes in bringing everyone along together and encourages our team to invite different perspectives to the table to listen to what people are saying.

The best work of our legislature is done in all-party committees. It is a cooperative environment, away from the political theatre, where we set aside our partisan differences and work toward a common goal.

The NDP government should trust more good work to be done in these committees. By creating this environment in the legislature, the BC NDP will be inviting their critics to the table to set and achieve outcomes that we are collectively striving for in British Columbia. Currently, the way our governance works, it is only the BC NDP who can make this happen. They have the power to set aside the partisan self-interest and encourage all our colleagues to focus on the positivity we feel when we reach consensus in our work. In 2022, I hope they embrace this opportunity.

I’m honoured to represent Saanich North and the Islands. If you need advocacy, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 250-655-5600.