The May 14 provincial election will be a critical moment for the No Tankers network. The next government of B.C. will have the power to stand up to plans to bring more crude oil tankers to our coast, but it’s up to us, British Columbians, to elect strong candidates and to give the next government a mandate for strong action.

So where do the parties and candidates stand?

[The following party positions were edited April 23rd 2013 following an announcement by the NDP]: The Green Party of BC and the BC NDP have both announced opposition to plans to bring more oil tankers to our coast. The two parties word their commitments differently, however. The Green Party opposes both Enbridge and Kinder Morgan’s projects, specifically, but they also support “a permanent ban on crude oil tankers on the west coast.” The BC NDP have repeatedly opposed Enbridge’s project, specifically. On April 22 Adrian Dix also announced that “we do not believe any proposal should transform Vancouver into a major port for oil export.” This would apply to Kinder Morgan’s proposal but also any other proponent seeking to do the same.

The B.C. Conservatives support both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan projects, while the B.C. Liberals are still on the fence with both – sometimes leaning one way, sometimes the other.

We are a non-partisan organization, which means we don’t favour any particular party. Rather, our job is to pay close attention to the factual positions of the parties and candidates on our issues, and then communicate that to our network of 150,000 people. All parties have the opportunity to be the best – to adopt the strongest position in defence of our coast and to potentially benefit electorally as a result. We’ve advocated for all parties to do so.

We’ve met with ministers, MLAs, candidates and staffers from various parties. We’ve executed targeted automated calls to the constituents of B.C.’s Premier and Environment Minister asking their opinion and encouraging them to take a stand on the issue. We launched a Twitter campaign during the Joint Review Panel’s south coast stops, letting MLAs of both parties know how their constituents feel about Enbridge. We’ve hosted door-knocking events in B.C. Liberal and NDP ridings, collecting No Tankers petition signatures and bringing media attention to the issue. Simply put, we’re trying to go to everyone, everywhere we can in B.C., to make the case for protecting our coast.

The massive momentum we’ve got right now is the result of many years of work done by passionate individuals all across B.C. First Nations have long led the way, and the political aspect of the movement has been largely built by one-on-one conversations with neighbours, friends and family. This is our greatest weapon.

It has been proven time and time again that meaningful, face-to-face conversations with others is the single most effective way to encourage people to act on an issue. In these final days leading up to the provincial election, the No Tankers network will be gearing up and speaking with voters at their homes and on the phone, explaining the importance this election has on keeping our coast safe from the threat of oil spills.

The plan is simple:

  1. With your help, we’ll have as many one-on-one conversations with voters as possible.
  2. We’ll explain the factual distinctions between the parties and candidates on oil tanker expansion.
  3. On election day, we’ll activate our network to get out to vote.

When we have these conversations, it’s not about telling British Columbians whom to vote for -it’s about letting concerned citizens know the facts about where their local candidates stand on an issue important to the majority of British Columbians. We respect the ability of voters to then make their own choice.

With your help, we want to make sure as many people as possible have the facts and make it to the polls.

We know some people are worried about vote-splitting (e.g. between the NDP and Green Party on this issue or between the B.C. Liberals and B.C. Conservatives on other issues). There’s a lot to unpack here, but briefly: claiming that any one party actually ‘owns’ votes, which can be ‘stolen,’ undermines the integrity of the voter.

People vote for smaller, so-called ‘third parties’ because they align with their values; because they’re dissatisfied with their former party; because they’re moved by core principles and beliefs.

Elections are about voter choice. Voters don’t split votes – party positions on important issues do.

Every political party has the opportunity to lead the pack on the most important issues of the day. Currently in B.C., oil tankers and pipelines are the number three issue of concern to voters, and people are looking for leadership in defence of our coast. It’s possible that the positions of the candidates and parties evolve before the vote on May 14th, and we’ll communicate any developments as soon as we have them.