MLA Report: October 2012

Long-term prosperity demands a healthy environment. Protecting the ecological integrity and sustainability of our province for our children and our children’s children, is a priority for British Columbians.

We understand the precious balance of our planet’s ecosystems, and citizens are speaking up about sustainability. They are bringing their concerns forward at places like the Joint Review Panel hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The Official Opposition is speaking up, too.

In April, the Opposition submitted a letter to the Joint Review Panel, detailing our reasons for opposing the project. Opposition MLAs have announced that, should we take office next May, we will serve the federal government with 30 days’ notice to terminate the 2010 deal in which the current provincial government signed away B.C.’s interests.

To ensure B.C.’s interests are protected, the Opposition has announced its intention to withdraw from the federal government’s review and set up a “made in B.C.” environmental assessment process. This new process will better ensure that B.C.’s economic, social and environmental concerns are fully addressed. That includes the interests of First Nations.

Opposition Leader Adrian Dix has also convened a panel of legal experts. The panel, led by renowned constitutional lawyer Murray Rankin, is assessing B.C.’s legal authority, and identifying legal options with regard to the pipeline.

Protecting our coastline matters to our community, and hauling bitumen in tankers through treacherous waters is simply not worth the risk. A spill anywhere on B.C.’s coast would be disastrous for the environment and also for fisheries and the tourism industry.

Climate change is real, and it is going to become even more of an issue for governments and citizens worldwide. B.C. needs a comprehensive climate action plan. A first step could be utilizing revenue from the carbon tax to help fund public transit and other initiatives that will reduce emissions.

It’s crucial that we identify ways to reduce the province’s dependency on fossil fuels and get going creating green jobs for tomorrow. There are so many opportunities just waiting to be acted upon, and so many effective programs that have been abandoned by the current government.

One of them is the BuyBC program that enticed consumers to purchase products from local growers. BuyBC impacted buying choices, helped build pride, and it should be revived. BuyBC would support our small business owners to help them create jobs and would keep local dollars in our local economies.

By investing in reforestation and silviculture, the province could be building a sustainable forestry sector that would provide generations of British Columbians with jobs. We must stabilize the industry and restore forest health with a strategy that respects First Nations, environmental and local needs.

The Opposition caucus is working hard and respectfully to bring positive change forward with practical solutions that address real issues in our communities. We can build a society that is stronger and more inclusive, and an economy that is sustainable by making sure that B.C. resources are used to support B.C. jobs.

We must do it responsibly, and we must do it in harmony with the planet. Our future depends on it.