Vaughn Palmer: Greens manage to embarrass NDP on environmental issues


Opinion: NDP makes promises but broke, say Green MPs

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VICTORIA – Green MPs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau have used the opportunities of this legislative session to embarrass New Democrats on environmental issues.


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The New Democrats promised in the last election to adopt the recommendations of a panel of experts on the protection of old growth forests. After returning to power with a majority, they did not rush to implement the recommendations in any substantial way.

As an example, the bitter showdown over old logging at Fairy Creek in the Premier’s Riding in the Capital Region

In this context, the Greens have repeatedly criticized the New Democrats for not having kept their election promise.

As recently as last week, Olsen pointed to overwhelming evidence from a Forest Practices Board report on the mismanagement of forests in the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni.

The council criticized BC Timber Sales, a government agency, for failing to protect old growth forests and biodiversity in the valley, creating “real risks” to ecosystems.


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Would Forestry Minister Katrine Conroy curb timber sales in British Columbia?

“BC Timber Sales is responding to the recommendations of the board,” replied Conroy. “I cannot stress enough how our government understands how critically important old growth forests are to British Columbians. This is why we have already undertaken to supplement the recommendations that were made by the report on old forests. We know there is still work to be done.

Commit to complete recommendations, more work to be done. Conroy provided many variations of this answer. This is perhaps the most repeated ministerial message of the session.

“This minister is saying the right things,” Olsen stormed. “She promises changes. Again and again – status quo in the forests.


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The next day, Green Leader Furstenau seized on another environmental issue where the Greens and the New Democrats go their separate ways.

The International Energy Agency, or IEA, had released a landmark report, laying out the way forward for the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Among other things, it broke with the notion of natural gas as transitional fuel, warning that such projects risk becoming abandoned assets in a world that turns against fossil fuels.

“We already knew that this government’s plan to give billions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry is bad for the climate,” Furstenau said, referring to the significant incentives the New Democrats have provided to the government. LNG Canada project in Kitimat. “The IEA report shows that it is also bad for our economy.


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Has Energy Minister Bruce Ralston acknowledged that the LNG Canada project, still several years away from completion, could end up failing?

“The report came as a bit of a surprise to many observers,” admitted Ralston.

But the province was already “developing a roadmap to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets and put us on the path to achieving net zero by 2050.” The emissions from the first phase of the LNG Canada project were “already taken into account” in the CleanBC plan.

“I feel more and more like I’m here in an Orwellian universe,” Furstenau replied.

LNG Canada is believed to be the largest point source of greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia. Yet the province was still 25 percent below its emissions reduction plan targets.


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It wasn’t the Green Party speaking, she reminded Ralston.

“The IEA scenarios guide global investment strategies and government policy. They warn that there will be a sharp drop in global demand for oil and gas and that we don’t need new LNG projects, including those already under construction.

Would the New Democrats admit they made the wrong bet on LNG?

“Any decision to invest more in the LNG sector is largely a private sector decision,” replied Ralston, expressing a little less enthusiasm for LNG development than the previous Liberal government in British Columbia. “But here in British Columbia, any proposed future LNG project must (be) compliant with our climate commitments.”

The next day, Olsen was back with the old age-themed New Democrats, highlighting the work of a trio of scientists who have mapped the forest areas most in need of logging deferrals.


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“These are the rarest, grandest and riskiest areas of old growth in our province,” said Olsen. “They look like specks of dust on the map.”

Would the Minister of Forests postpone the felling of these spots?

“We all know that BC’s old growth forests are part of what makes this province a great place to live,” Conroy replied. “We are doing the job that needs to be done to protect them. “

“We do the job. We will do the job. Work, work, work, ”laughed Olsen. “The response is brutal, inaction is brutal. For the past three years, as we asked questions about ancient logging, our New Democrat colleagues from British Columbia have looked to the ground, just wishing it was gone. Well, we won’t.

No, they won’t.

Prime Minister John Horgan repudiated his power-sharing deal with the Greens and called a snap election after Furstenau had only held the post of chief for a week.

The NDP attack ads made the most of former Green Leader Andrew Weaver endorsing Horgan. Health Minister Adrian Dix campaigned directly against Furstenau in his constituency of Cowichan Valley.

The effort failed. Furstenau and Olsen were re-elected.

But if one wondered why the NDP tried to eliminate the green presence from the legislature, the evidence was exposed on most days this spring.

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