The Troublemaker: Anjali Appadurai
British Columbia has its own troublemaker and she goes by the name of Anjali Appadurai.
Like John Lewis, the long-time U.S. Congressman who died in 2020, Appadurai is stirring up good trouble, necessary trouble. She’s doing this by seeking the leadership of the B.C. NDP by promising to put people before profit, to respect Indigenous rights, and to take bold climate action.
If Appadurai defeats her only opponent, former attorney general David Eby, B.C. would become a core member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. This is a group of governments and stakeholders working toward phasing out oil and gas production.
Furthermore, Appadurai has signed the NDP standing committee on environment and economy’s climate-justice pledge. It commits to immediately stopping all new oil and gas production, exploration, and infrastructure. In addition, this pledge calls for rapidly phasing out all fossil-fuel production, export, and use by 2033.
In this year’s provincial budget, the B.C. Ministry of Finance has forecast $911 million in revenue from natural-gas royalties. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the party establishment is having conniptions over Appadurai’s candidacy.
The B.C. NDP’s executive director, Heather Stoutenburg, has hinted that the B.C. Greens, with their minuscule membership of 3,700, are attempting a “hostile takeover” of her party, according to the Tyee’s Andrew MacLeod.
“It is in the interests of all political parties, and the stable functioning of our multi-party electoral democracy, that no party’s internal democracy is undermined through co-ordinated, bad-faith campaigns,” Stoutenburg declared in an email.
This week, Appadurai will learn if the B.C. NDP will veto her candidacy because of help she received from the Dogwood Initiative. It’s okay for union leaders to express support for Eby, but if the enviros do the same thing and then their organization’s staff marshal support for their preferred candidate, it triggers an investigation.
Then, there are the party establishment’s concerns that members of the B.C. Greens might be among those supporting Appadurai.
When people signed up to vote in the leadership race, the party insisted that they agree to abide by the B.C. NDP constitution. But as Georgia Straight contributor Martyn Brown has pointed out, the B.C. NDP did not post the party’s constitution on its website.
Therefore, these new members actually had no idea what this document stated when they filled out the form.
“The NDP seems very keen on keeping that information hidden from those same new members it is courting on the condition that they agree to those invisible documents,” Brown wrote.
Now, the B.C. NDP could use this hidden constitution to ensure that its preferred candidate, Eby, is coronated without any competition. It’s ridiculous.
Under Premier John Horgan, the B.C. NDP government has provided $6 billion in incentives to lure a Shell Oil–led consortium to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat that will rely on fuel from northeastern B.C. The fracked gas for this carbon bomb will be shipped by pipeline across unceded traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en people.
Appadurai’s candidacy threatens to unravel this project and end the cozy relationship between the fossil-fuel industry and the B.C. government.
The press gallery in Victoria has been the B.C. NDP establishment’s willing accomplice by failing to highlight what’s really at stake in this leadership race.
The troublemaker, Appadurai, is running to stave off a “Hothouse Earth” scenario in which overlapping climate-feedback loops will kill hundreds of millions of people.
She running to take back her party from a gang of careerists, including Eby, who did the bare minimum to try to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This project’s annual upstream and downstream emissions will exceed the annual total for the entire province of B.C.
If Appadurai wins the leadership race, she hopes to reverse the B.C. NDP government’s policy of continuing to log old-growth forests, which serve as critical carbon sinks. These old-growth forests help prevent massive flooding in the face of more powerful atmospheric rivers.
Those torrential rains are becoming stronger over time due to the warming of the Pacific Ocean, resulting in significantly more water vapour collecting in the skies. The warming of the western part of the Pacific Ocean is also contributing to heat waves, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Then there’s the drought that has dogged southwestern B.C. in the late summer and autumn of this year. In Port Alberni last week, the temperature record was shattered by more than three degrees when mercury in thermometers reached 25.7 C.
It’s a goddamned crisis and like John Lewis in his youth, Appadurai is ringing the alarm bell.
“Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio,” Lewis wrote in his final essay, which was published in the New York Times on the day of his funeral.
“He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence,” Lewis continued. “He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.”
Appadurai is doing exactly this by stepping forward to seek the B.C. NDP leadership when nobody else was prepared to address the injustice of the Horgan government’s climate and logging policies.
Why should people around the world have to die or live in misery, due to the climate consequences, because B.C. politicians think it’s a God-given right to continue digging up or fracking fossil fuels?
Appadurai is standing up, speaking up, and speaking out in the spirit of the great civil rights leader. History will not be kind to any party that tries to stifle her voice through procedural means.
Let’s be clear about this: Appadurai is the John Lewis of B.C. in 2022.
One day in the not too distant future, we’ll all come to realize this.