Vote for a Green change

The best vote for necessary change

By Robert Stupka

The Kelowna West byelection is a historic opportunity to vote for new leadership that advocates for this region and B.C. to be a leader in the 21st century economy.

With the BC Greens holding the balance of power, a true majority of voices are now represented in B.C. This byelection will not change who the governing party is, but electing the BC Greens gives Kelowna-West influence on government as they enjoyed before the last election.

Why consider voting Green?

The BC Greens transcend BC’s big party politics with fiscal responsibility, evidence-based decision making, and integrity.

They have shaped policy with both the BC Liberals and BC NDP for the better as well as holding the parties to account.

The BC Greens helped restore credibility to BC politics by banning corporate and union donations. They have had a positive impact on decision making, pushing for the necessary review of Site C, Fair Wage Commission, Affordable Housing Strategy and Emerging Economy Task Force to name a few.

I chose to run for the BC Greens because B.C. needs facts to prevail over political agendas.

I’m not a politician, but a professional engineer and partner in a small business who has first-hand experience working on important projects of provincial and local relevance including Site C, LNG, and transportation.

Our business also designs the most efficient homes in world and has been through Kelowna’s tech accelerator.

Kelowna West can be a leader in 21st-century city building and to seize the emerging economy.

As our population doubles, it’s necessary that our actions align with what we want this region and province to become. Today’s challenges such as transportation congestion are opportunities for innovation that could be exported throughout the world.

The BC Liberals are not good stewards of the economy as they profess.

The budget was never “balanced” as it required money from BC Hydro and ICBC, both of which are now in financial peril. LNG, key to the BC Liberals agenda, didn’t materialize even with royalties slashed, leaving unnecessary government funded pet projects and a runaway real estate market to make up the gap.

There was no other plan for the economy. The outcome is massive government debt — 30 per cent increase in six years. This also resulted in a significant loss of private sector investment and 10 times more jobs than Site C will provide in the clean energy sector.

Conversely, BC Greens were lauded by economists as “a card-carrying member of the economist party,” whose platform is very impressive, sensible and realistic.

Last election voters recognized B.C. is out of balance. This was validated by the BC Liberals throne speech that, as a final grasp for power, adopted BC Greens and BC NDP policies.

The inflated housing market has left generations behind, turning many into “mortgage slaves,” making the economy vulnerable.

While Ben Stewart does not believe it’s a crisis, the BC Greens have put forth a comprehensive plan to address housing affordability.

Socially, the province is in crisis control to manage mental health and addiction. B.C. has the highest child poverty rates in Canada.

Environmentally, many watersheds are significantly impacted, resulting in poor water quality. and many wildlife populations are in collapse.

These have significant multi-generational costs to B.C.’s economy, communities and individuals.

Managing these crises is consuming the ability for proactive action that can be more cost-effective and cause less harm.

These outcomes are not what I want for my province and community I love. During this campaign, we have shown that we are putting this riding first. We have led five events to hear from you and give you real answers, and the entire BC Green caucus has visited.

While Kelowna-West is a BC Liberal stronghold, it is not because of staunch support for their policies, but because of the benefits their hold on power had for the region and the lack of trust for the BC NDP.

Fortunately, BC Greens are offering voters something to vote for, not against, with smart policy and fiscal responsibility with a long-term vision. A BC Green vote will strengthen our influence on the BC NDP government for that to happen.

This is why BC Greens attract voters from both sides of the political spectrum and offer this region the best chance of having influence on government.

I know it can be easy to disengage and believe that you cannot change the system.

I can relate to advice BC Green leader Andrew Weaver gave to his students that eventually compelled him to run:

"we all have the power to change the system, if you're not engaged in it, you have no one to blame but yourself."

Eventually, he took that advice, inspired me, and I accept his challenge.

I hope that you accept mine.

Seize this opportunity for new leadership. Engage those around you in this byelection, share this article, and let them know their voice matters.

A BC Green vote is the best vote for the future of our province and region.

Advance voting is Feb. 6-11. General voting is Feb. 14.

Robert Stupka, a professional engineer and businessman, is the BC Green candidate in the Kelowna West byelection. He can be reached at [email protected].

EDITOR'S NOTE: All five candidates were invited to submit a column to Castanet. This is the second.

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