an Op Ed by MLA Adam Olsen
During a series of town hall meetings hosted on Salt Spring, Galiano, Mayne and Pender Islands and in Sidney (Saturna and Piers Islands coming soon), I answered many questions about the political events of this past summer and the Confidence and Supply Agreement that I signed with the provincial government.
For the first time in decades we have a minority government in British Columbia. It has been called a “grand experiment” and while this arrangement may be new to B.C. politics, this “experiment” is little different than the countless number of personal interactions and business transactions that occur every day.
The Confidence and Supply Agreement provides stability for the provincial government and provides a framework for a strong working relationship between members in the Legislative Assembly.
While a novel concept in BC politics, the Agreement is in fact very similar to a joint venture partnership used by businesses who want to bring their expertise together to deliver a product or service. Agreements such as a confidence and supply agreement or a joint venture partnership are often critical for success and make so many other aspects of our society and economy excel.
The Confidence and Supply Agreement is founded on five words: “Good faith and no surprises.”
This is the minimum requirement of any healthy relationship. To give meaning to these words, all parties to the agreement are essentially agreeing to communicate with each other. In my opinion, that is necessary for good governance.
When we lack the collaboration and communication necessary to create policy that is a well-informed pursuit of effective solutions, we fail our constituents.
During the election, policy promises were made by every party. If one party had won a majority they would have been able to execute their plan with little to no collaboration or accountability. However, the election produced a minority government where collaboration is now required to ensure stability for British Columbians. As such, the Confidence and Supply Agreement provides new reference points for these campaign promises.
In the terms highlighted in the Agreement, the signatories agreed to commit to certain public policy directions. Where the Agreement is silent on a particular area or policy, then the reference point is the government’s platform and the B.C. Green Caucus will determine its support on an issue-by-issue basis.
With a working relationship founded on “good faith and no surprises,” disagreements and differences are open for discussion and broad consultation and the provincial government will be successful only if we are openly communicating with each other.
Just as our social and business interactions require negotiation and compromise, so does a minority government wishing to achieve positive public policy outcomes.
Relationships are work. They require trust and deep commitment to communicate with each other and respect differences. This opportunity is open to all 87 Member of the Legislature that embrace this approach.