Candidate corner: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford hopefuls talk environment and climate change

This is part one of a four-part series outlining candidates’ thoughts on key topics

The Citizen reached out to the candidates running in the 2019 federal election and we asked them for brief comments on four topics of interest to constituents here in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford region. Those topics include: environment and climate change, economic development, kids and families and health care. This is part one of a four-part series outlining their responses. Today’s topic is Environment and climate change.

Lydia Hwitsum –

Green Party of Canada

Lydia Hwitsum

Since its beginnings, the Green Party of Canada has led policy development on ecological sustainability and environmental protection. Our plan to address the current climate emergency is called Mission: Possible and can be found at greenparty.ca. It is bold and comprehensive, as the science deems necessary, aiming to reduce emissions to 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and attain net-zero emissions by 2050. A main focus is to phase out fossil fuels, which comprise 54 per cent of Canada’s GHG emissions, and transition fully to renewable energy, including facilitating a just transition for workers to green jobs.

Some of the other environmental issues our platform addresses are the need to: 1) promote local food production systems; 2) ensure fisheries are managed sustainability with the active involvement of coastal communities; 3) minimize solid waste and plastic use; and 4) protect species and habitats.

As founding co-chair of the Cowichan Watershed Board in 2010, we created a locally driven governance structure that was necessary to address complicated environmental and economic issues. The Watershed Board has provided a decade of leadership for sustainable water management, environmental protection and enhanced quality of life. Its principles of collaboration and inclusion have been a model for other watersheds around B.C. and Canada.

We are feeling the effects of climate change here in the Cowichan Valley. Drought is a real problem for our fish, farmers, industry, and recreation. Local groups are concerned and want action from our governments. I am concerned, too, and ready to use my legal training, political and advocacy experience to be a strong and effective voice in Ottawa to address the environmental issues that are top of mind for us in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. The climate crisis is here and we must solve it by working together. We can elect real climate leaders and create a safe, equitable future for all.

Blair Herbert –

Liberal Party of Canada

Blair Herbert

Blair Herbert, believes the environment to be the most important issue to our future. He is proud of the Liberals’ aggressive actions to address climate change, beginning with Canada’s ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

In 2018, the Liberal government committed $70 billion to clean energy transition and conservation; part of this commitment includes a carbon tax. This tax is the fairest and lowest-cost way to reduce emissions, giving Canadians the freedom to determine how to reduce their emissions versus using government regulation. It is not free to pollute in Canada any more. Additionally, there is a price on pollution for heavy emitters, driving down emissions and creating new technology and jobs.

The price on carbon is one facet of the Liberal’s plan, others include:

• Establishing a Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, investing $819 million to reduce emissions and create clean growth,

• Establishing a Clean Fuel Standard, reducing carbon pollution by 30 million tonnes, equivalent to removing seven million vehicles from the road,

• Regulating reductions in methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by 45 per cent by 2025,

• Phasing out coal power while investing $150 million in infrastructure to support and diversify coal economies,

• Making historic investments through the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan,

• Passing Bill C-48 to ban oil tankers from traveling the northern B.C. coast, protecting the coast and Great Bear Rainforest,

• Reducing plastic waste and supporting safe alternatives, with a plan to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.

“The environment needs our help now. We cannot go back to a time where Canada was scolded on the world stage for its lack of climate action — we can be leaders on the environment file and in developing green technologies and jobs,” Herbert said. “My grandchildren are counting on me to do this work, and you can too.”

Alana DeLong — Conservative Party

A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment (ARealPlan.ca) builds on our proud Conservative legacy and is our best chance to meet the Paris targets — without a carbon tax. We will balance the need to fight climate change by lowering emissions with our core promise of leaving more money in Canadians’ pockets.

Our plan focuses on three areas:

• Green technology, not taxes is the best way to lower emissions.

• Our Green Investment Standards requires major emitters to invest in emissions-reducing technology. Our 40 kt limit will capture more polluters than Trudeau’s special deal for polluters over 50 kt.

• Our Green Homes Tax Credit saves Canadians money up front, on the cost of making their homes energy efficient, and down the road, on their energy bills. For two years, Canadians will be eligible for a 20 per cent credit on green renovation costs between $1,000 and $2,000.

• Our Green Patent Credit encourages the green-technology sector to do research and commercialize their products here in Canada by reducing the tax rate on income earned from green technology from 15 per cent to five per cent.

• We will promote a cleaner and greener natural environment to protect our air, land, water and wildlife,

• Work with the provinces and municipalities to end raw sewage dumps in our waterways;

• Reduce plastic waste by harmonizing recycling standards and work with industry to cut down on excessive packaging; and,

• Restore community consultations for protected areas and reinstate funding for important conservation projects.

• Canada has a leadership role to play and we must take our fight against climate change global.

• Our Green Expansion Accelerator will provide targeted capital cost allowance to industries that can be shown to reduce emissions in other countries.

• Our new Canadian Clean brand will be stamped on products and technologies that can displace higher emitting technologies in other countries.

Alistair MacGregor – New Democratic Party

Alistair MacGregor

As a father, protecting our environment and tackling the climate crisis before us is a number one priority for me. That’s why as your MP over the past four years, I’ve repeatedly called on the Trudeau Liberal government to take serious, urgent action to fight climate change, speaking on the issue more than 260 times in the House of Commons.

The NDP has a real plan to stop the serious threats of climate change by meeting science-based reduction targets of greenhouse gas emissions, immediately ending subsidies to fossil fuel companies and investing them to kick start clean energy initiatives. We aim to make all new buildings in Canada energy efficient by 2030 and retrofit existing buildings by 2050, eliminate single-use plastics, and transition all federal government vehicles to electric by 2025, ensuring 100 per cent of all new automotive sales are zero-emission vehicles by 2040 and stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The NDP’s plan will create 300,000 new green jobs. We won’t leave workers and Indigenous communities behind. Our plan builds up made-in-Canada industries and supports workers in the transition to a clean energy future.

During my first term, I hosted town halls on climate change and a National Clean Energy Strategy, joined the protests against the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline. Through my lobbying of federal government ministers in Parliament, I helped bring over $4.08 million in joint-federal/provincial funding for work to protect the Cowichan River, and my most recent bill C-431 would require the CPP investment board to divest from fossil fuel companies that are violating environmental rights and contributing to climate change.

If we fail to act now to fight climate change, the costs will be immense. On Oct. 21, please vote to ensure I can continue to serve as your MP, and make sure protecting our environment and combating climate change is a priority.

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