Passion abounds for Cowichan Valley candidates on environment question

The resources belong to the people and not private companies, says independent socialist candidate Eden Haythornthwaite, and once that’s re-established “we can make decisions instead of just paying for the mistakes of the private sector.”

Environmental concerns will be high on the lists of many voters when they hit the polls May 9 for the provincial general election and the candidates of the Cowichan Valley all have opinions on the matter.

Haythornthwaite said by and large, citizens want to protect B.C.’s land and resources.

“I think there would be that statistical unanimity on whether or not we should leave some of the energy in the ground, on whether or not we should be building the Site C dam for no reason, on whether or not we should flooding farmland up there when we desperately need food security,” she said, “and on whether or not we do something about climate change and make a proper contribution instead of having a carbon tax.”

A carbon tax is “tax neutral” simply because it adds tax to fuel and give back tax credits mostly to wealthy people and corporations, she said.

“So it’s basically a pay-to-pollute model.”

Independent candidate Ian Morrison says there is no ‘Planet B.’

“No one can dispute that our world’s climate is already changing,” he said. “Elders have taught us to look forward seven generations and to care for Mother Earth so that our children’s children can have a good life.”

“Mankind has left its scars on the landscape,” he said, “and we need to turn to the wisdom of our First Nations stewards and the best environmental scientists, for leadership in restoring our natural systems to functional health.”

The priority of forest managers should be to maximize carbon capture first, before shareholder profits and energy should be sourced from solar, wind, wave and tidal to provide our new supplies of electricity, he added.

“Reduction of non-renewable polluters like coal, oil, and natural gas is crucial,” he said. “The clean energy sector is growing and providing opportunities for good paying jobs for our youth seeking careers in skilled trades.”

Libertarian candidate James Anderson is a member of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and protecting the environment is important to him.

“We need to find the right balance between protecting the environment and continuing to benefit from our natural resources,” Anderson said. “It’s hypocritical to use products that require these resources and then to try and stop their production in B.C.”

Anderson said Canada is one of, if not the most ethical country in the world in the development and extraction of resources.

“These industries create jobs and help build communities and while I’m sure none of the political parties want to intentionally harm or stress the environment, there are and will continue to be compromises that need to be made in finding a suitable balance between industrial growth and protecting our environment,” he said.

Polluters need to be held accountable to ensure all steps are taken to return the environment to its original state should damage occur, he said.

For Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau, a healthy environment means everything.

“This was made abundantly clear to me with the Shawnigan Lake debacle, which prompted me to run for area director in Shawnigan Lake in 2014 and now for MLA,” she explained. “When a government is willing to risk the long-term safety of a drinking water supply, and approves dumping five million tons of contaminated soil upstream from it, you know we are out of balance.”

Furstenau said four and a half years fighting B.C.’s own government was proof that the water, the economy and the future were all at risk.

“We have to stop the degradation and destruction of our environment, and protect what we all need to thrive: water, soil, and air,” she said, adding that the B.C. Greens are committed to doing just that, by building a sustainable economy that works with our environment.

“We can have both,” she said.

NDP candidate Lori Iannidinardo has worked on local environmental issues for 20 years, championing parks and trails and leading the development of Cowichan Bay’s award-winning sustainable OCP.

“I’ve fought all of my career to protect our waterways, including the Cowichan and Koksilah Rivers, Shawnigan Lake, the Cowichan Estuary and the Saanich Inlet,” she said.

On the Cowichan Watershed Board, she’s worked with Cowichan Tribes and all levels of governments to address pollution, restore habitat, raise the weir at Cowichan Lake and get derelict vessels out of local waters.

Christy Clark pushes mega-projects consistently putting her corporate friends first, Iannidinardo said.

“The LNG project in the Saanich Inlet is a perfect example. This project will put our inlet at risk, which is why I have been standing with our community from the very beginning to stop this proposal,” she said. “John Horgan will protect our air, land and water, stopping projects that do not meet our clear climate change commitments.”

The father of four sons, hoping one day to be a grandfather, Liberal candidate Steve Housser said he cares deeply about the environment – for himself and future generations.

“Until the first of this year, I worked with the Nature Trust of B.C., raising money to acquire important eco-systems and wildlife habitat,” he said. “In Shawnigan Lake, I was on the front lines demanding protection for our most precious resource, water, and have long been on record pushing for the permit that allowed contaminated waste in our watershed to be cancelled.”

Housser said he will keep pushing for parks, clean air and safe drinking water but he also believes in sustainable, intelligent development — all requirements for a strong economy and good jobs.

“A solid financial footing also allows more investment in clean technology,” Housser said. “The economy and environment do not have to be at odds. We can and must care for both.”

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