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Baldrey: B.C.'s minor political parties — better to be heard or silent?

It was an off week for B.C. Greens and Conservatives, Keith Baldrey says.
B.C. Green party leader Sonia Furstenau (left) and B.C. Conservative party leader John Rustad.

As the so-called "third" and "fourth" political parties in the B.C. Legislature, getting noticed and heard can be a challenge for both the B.C. Green party and the B.C. Conservative party.

Well, they got "noticed" last week but as a result neither of them came out looking like a credible political force capable of competing with either of the two major parties — the NDP and the B.C. United Party.

Both the Greens and the Conservatives aligned themselves with the political fringe, where very little of the electorate park their votes.

In the legislature, the B.C. Conservatives launched a personal attack on provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, demanding that she be fired from her post for her measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Chief among those measures was the order making it mandatory for health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to be employed in the system.

Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman accused Dr. Henry of using "brutal restrictions on personal freedoms" and of practicing "medical tyranny" and "coercion" in her efforts to guide B.C. through the pandemic.

Health Minister Adrian Dix called Banman's attack "shameful" and praised Dr. Henry's performance, pointing out that B.C. has had some of the best health outcomes during the pandemic (he also pointed out that B.C. United caucus members, back when they were called B.C. Liberals, were also strong backers of Dr. Henry).

The next day, the B.C. Conservatives brought several dozen former anti-vaccine health care workers to the legislature to further cement their alliance with this tiny constituency.

As the B.C. Conservatives align themselves with the miniscule anti-vaccination community, it is worth noting that about 90 per cent of British Columbian adults have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and this fall almost 900,000 (and counting) people have received another dose.

As for health care workers themselves, Dix said 99 per cent of the workforce were vaccinated when the order was announced.

Just how the B.C. Conservatives think they can grow their fledgling party by hitching their wagon to extreme elements remains a mystery.

The B.C. Greens also found themselves mired in a controversy that involved Dr. Henry.

Party leader Sonia Furstenau fired her appointed deputy leader, Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi, after it was revealed he “liked” a social media post that compared Dr. Henry to Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele and made other questionable comments as well on social media (Gandhi was also turfed as a party candidate in the next election).

Furstenau seems to be no fan of Dr. Henry, once accusing her of "gaslighting" British Columbians during the pandemic.

But Furstenau's position is not the same as the anti-vaccination Conservatives. Her party has complained that public health measures are not restrictive enough, rather than too much.

In the wake of the Gandhi-Mengele controversy, former party leader, Andrew Weaver denounced his former party as a "fringe party" that believes in chasing conspiracy theories and predicted it will be wiped out come the next election.

All in all, not the best week for either of the minor parties in the legislature.

Sometimes, in the zeal to be heard, it's better just to be silent.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.