September Monthly Meeting - Environmental All-Candidates' Forum

Thu, Sep. 24, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Schubert Centre - 3505 30th Ave

Thanks once again to Pete McIntyre of K.I.S.S. for moderating this environmental forum. About 100 people came to the great hall in the Schubert Centre to see the (3 out of 4) candidates answer questions from the audience.

Answers to 5 questions, sent to candidates by the S.E.N.S. on July 28, were posted at the back for all to read, and are here on the website.

Candidate Answers to Questions

Provided by the Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS), July 28, 2015

* For the September 24  SENS Environmental All Candidates Forum, 7pm – 9:30 pm,  Schubert Centre, we have been informed by Mel Arnold’s campaign manager, that, “unfortunately, Mel had been pre-booked that date for a Chamber Event.”

1. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. The Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal “Entropy” says “glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies”.
The World Health Organization calls it a “probable human carcinogen”. Some of Roundup's inert ingredients have now been proven to be deadly to human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells (Scientific American). Farm fields that grow Genetically modified crops are repeatedly drenched with Roundup. It is now in our air, underground and surface water, as well as our soil.
If elected would you follow the example of the Netherlands and other countries which have banned Roundup? Explain. 

Not yet received.

The Liberal platform for Real Change for Canada’s environment and economy can be found in the backgrounder at: a-new-plan-for-canadas-environment-and-economy.pdf. As an environmentalist who has been engaged in a number of initiatives in the riding, I am pleased with the platform. It is both specific and “doable” and has received significant support. I urge everyone who is concerned about the environment to read the platform.
Recently the Dutch parliament voted to ban the sale and use of glyphosate-based herbicides for non-commercial use in the country. That means that people will no longer be able to spray RoundUp on their lawns and gardens and instead will have to find another means of pest control. However, the ban in the Netherlands does not apply to agricultural use.
I am aware of, and concerned by, the study by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer which analyzed data from studies that have been conducted on the glyphosate for the past couple of decades.
All government decisions must be based on sound science, including decisions on the use of glyphosate in commercial and non-commercial applications.
A Liberal government would:
     *revoke rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work;
     *It would also consolidate government science so that it is available to the public at large, through a central portal; and
     *Create a Chief Science Officer whose mandate would include ensuring the above and that scientific analyses are appropriately considered when the government makes decisions.
On a related matter, concerns have been raised by consumers and some of Canada’s trading partners about cross-contamination of GMOs with non-GMO and organic crops, threatening the survival of the latter. The effects of cross-contamination on the survival of non-GMO and organic crops must be addressed in a manner that effectively balances the needs of farmers, trading partners and consumers. A Liberal government would place a moratorium on the approval of Roundup-Ready Alfalfa until a comprehensive study is completed on its impact on non-GMO and organic strains.

Green Party policy is available at these links: Background on policy positions:
All Green Party policy:
If elected as MP for the North Okanagan-Shuswap I would advocate for a rigorous review of the peer-reviewed literature on Roundup by the appropriate departments, with an eye to recommendations supporting a ban. One MP can do that. Passing a countrywide ban like in the Netherlands only becomes possible in a minority government where Greens hold the balance of power, and is considered important enough by the Green caucus to horse trade with the minority government for. I can advocate for that as well.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) under Health Canada approves pesticides for use in Canada. All pesticides have inherent hazards, as well as benefits when used in prescribed circumstances. Science cannot say glyphosate, or any other pesticide designed to kill a biological organism, is safe. Scientific evidence is immensely broader than the toxicologic (laboratory animal) risk assessment on which the PMRA primarily relies. The PMRA has not developed a systematic process to incorporate epidemiology, studying humans in the real world, in risk assessment. In fact, until recently the PMRA has actually not even had an epidemiologist on staff.
The NDP would look at conducting a review of the approvals process, and of the approval of glyphosate, taking into consideration the epidemiological risks, evaluating the availability of alternatives, and operationalizing the precautionary principle.

2. Agriculture: A United Nations report called “Wake up before it's too late” calls for the transformation of agriculture saying we need “a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers”.
If elected would you work to make this change happen in our region and if so, how would you go about transforming our agriculture?

Not yet received.

As a life-long resident of the riding and having acted as a lawyer for many farmers and ranchers in the area, I am aware of the challenges faced by local producers.
It comes down to a question of food security which has not been a priority of the Harper government. Not only is Canada the only nation in the developed world without a national food strategy, the Harper Conservatives have made deep cuts to food inspection and food safety. Without leadership from the top, there will come a time when Canadians can’t trust the food that’s in grocery store shelves.
During the last election, the Liberal Party presented Canadians with a comprehensive food policy for Canada that would increase access to healthy, affordable food, while also building social and economic opportunities in rural Canada. A Liberal government would work consultatively with community groups, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal organizations and producers to develop and implement a national food policy.
Recently Mr. Trudeau has re-affirmed a Liberal government’s support for supply management and will ensure that any future trade deals do not erode the present regime.
As MP I would work to foster small-scale farming. I envision this riding becoming better known for its local food production. We have a number of very high quality agricultural producers already leading the way. We need a champion in Ottawa.

This is a critical piece of building a resilient community. Events half a world away can have measurable impacts on our food supply in Canada. Transportation adds to the carbon footprint of the food itself. It only makes sense to grow close to where the food will be consumed. Transforming agriculture in many cases means rolling back some of the current regulations that favor industrial scale producers over local farmers. Changing this will require cooperation with the provinces, as much of the current restrictive legislation falls within their sphere of responsibility.
Part of the transformation of our system needs to be social. People can do this now. Volunteering at community gardens, building neighborhood barter networks, and supporting local producers via CSA box programs or at the farmer's market, are happening now. Working locally with all involved is an expectation that I have of my MP and I would certainly do my best to advocate for and support a transition to a stronger local food economy here in the North Okanagan-Shuswap if I were the person in that role.
Here is a direct quote from Vision Green:
"The Green Party approach to Canadian agriculture policies is clear: reduce the dependence on chemical inputs, rebuild and protect natural soil fertility, value quality produce and support local economies, reduce waste, increase the number of farm families, and invest in climate adaptation strategies for Canadian agriculture."

The NDP launched a comprehensive pan-Canadian food and agriculture strategy in 2011 called “Everybody Eats”.
The strategy comes out of a 2011 election platform and is the culmination of three years of outreach and consultations with farmers and stakeholders. It is the first food strategy to be released by any federal political party.
The NDP strategy puts forward practical policies to ensure that everyone eats well (is food secure), that our agricultural communities are sustainable for generations to come, and that Canadian products find growing markets at home and abroad. We start from the principle that food is a fundamental human right.
Working with the provinces and territories, our strategy lays out a vision to strengthen our food system and support local food production in the promotion of food sovereignty.
Conservatives are taking our agricultural sector for granted and are not taking leadership when it comes to health, sustainability, and transparency in our food production system.
The NDP will:

  • Ease entrance barriers for new and young agrarians.
  • Impose a moratorium on new genetically modified crops
  • Support local agriculture and sales of locally-produced food.
  • Invest in public research as the core of agricultural innovation.
  • Support the agricultural sector as a major contributor to job creation and our national economy.

3. Healing Our Forests:  How will your party strike a balance between RESTORING (not just protecting) the ecological integrity of Canada’s forests (especially the massive boreal forest region) and the need for an economically and environmentally sustainable forestry sector?

Not yet received.

Forest management is under provincial jurisdiction. However as with other environmental challenges under the jurisdiction of the Provinces, the Federal government must be prepared to sit down with First Ministers to work together. History has shown that Canada works best when all orders of government work together to solve problems that matter to Canadians.
The Federal government has a role to play in innovation and competiveness and securing access to international markets. As we have seen in forestry and other sectors, markets are demanding environmental stewardship.
Canada’s natural resource sectors can be world leaders in innovation and sustainability – and the federal government can help. We will invest $200 million more annually to create sector-specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in the fisheries, mining, energy, agricultural and forestry sectors. These strategies will be developed in collaboration with the private sector, government, and research institutions, with the objective of producing real innovations that can be deployed in our natural resources sectors, commercialized, brought to scale, and exported.
A Liberal government will work to better protect Canada’s endangered species. This means responding faster to scientific advice on listing species, meeting mandatory timelines for responding to Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommendations and completing a robust species at risk recovery plans.

In order to maintain health and resilience, forests must be diverse. The best path to an economically and environmentally sustainable forestry sector requires getting as much value as possible from our forests, something that is enhanced by the diversity that is only found in the natural forests that arise to fill the specific ecological niches in this country. Shipping raw logs, supporting monoculture in replanting and sacrificing value add industries in trade deals are three things we currently do that do not support diversity, both in our forests and in our economy.
The boreal is under attack, primarily due to climate change. Pine beetle and wildfire are two consequences of a warming planet. Reducing emissions is the only path to protecting this forest.
The Green policy platform is thin on specifics on this issue. It leaves considerable latitude for an MP to work with First Nations, the communities involved, and provincial and territory governments towards solutions that protect ecosystem integrity and biodiversity, while enhancing local social and economic initiatives.

Naturally-occurring ecosystem services provided by the Boreal forest, such as carbon storage and water filtration, are worth 2.5 times more than the value of extracting resources such as minerals and timber. The Boreal forest houses 25% of the world’s remaining original forests. It is Canada’s largest ecosystem, covering 58 per cent of the country.
New Democrats believe in sustainable development principles as set out by the Brundtland Commission that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” New Democrats believe Canada needs conservation planning in the Boreal and across the country that not only meets our domestic and international targets, but strives to exceed them.
We need a Federal Government that will identify and report on any significant gaps in monitoring of the sustainability of Canadian forests. We need to invest increased resources for research on potential cumulative impacts to the sustainability or our forests, including the potential value of Canadian forests in mitigating climate change impacts.
Across British Columbia we have lost dozens of forestry mills and thousands of good paying wood and forestry jobs due to the Conservative’s years of neglect of British Columbia’s forestry sector and their “rip-and-ship” mentality. New Democrats believe in getting the most value and the most jobs for British Columbians out of the logs harvested here. We're committed to working with the province and First Nations to reduce raw log exports, investing in forestry innovation and R&D, while promoting Canadian value-added wood products in Canada and abroad.

4. Jobs: For similar dollar investments, when 2 jobs are generated in the oil/gas industry, 15 jobs are generated in alternative energy (ref: Solar Living Manual).

4.a) What is your commitment to alternative energy?

Not yet received.

Questions 4 and 5 are about Jobs, Alternative energy, Transportation and Carbon Pricing.
These questions are inter-related and I have chosen to respond to them together referring to the Liberal platform on Real Change – A New Plan for Canada’s Environment and Economy which addresses these questions in three parts: 1) taking action on climate change; 2) investing in clean technologies; and 3) creating clean jobs and investment.
1) Climate Change:
Liberals understand that climate change and creating a more sustainable future are among the most pressing challenges we face as Canadians. Action against climate change is a key inter-generational responsibility that we owe to our children and grandchildren.
A Liberal government will:
Attend the Paris climate conference (all provincial and territorial leaders welcome to attend), and within 90 days, hold a First Ministers meeting to work together on a framework for combating climate change and reducing Canada’s carbon emissions.
Partner with provinces and territories to establish national emissions-reduction targets, and ensure they have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.
Phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry in order to fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment.
Work with the United States and Mexico to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement
Liberals are serious about engaging in an open and innovative partnership with the provinces and territories, as we work together to fulfill our environmental responsibilities.
2) Investing in clean technologies:
A Liberal government will:
Be a full partner in the work, already underway by provinces and territories, to develop a Canadian Energy Strategy that delivers energy security and energy conservation.
Invest $200 million annually to create sector-specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors.
Invest $100 million annually in clean technology producers, so that they can tackle Canada’s most pressing environmental challenges, whether in our air, in our water, or on our land.
Work with provinces, territories, universities, and colleges to support emerging clean tech companies, including research, the commercialization of new products, and training Canadians to be properly skilled for the industries of the future.
Join with the provinces to set stronger air quality standards, creating incentives for investments that lead to cleaner air, healthier communities, and better quality of life for all Canadians.
3) Creating Jobs and investment
Enhance tax measures to generate more clean technology investments, and work with the provinces and territories in order to make Canada the world’s most competitive tax jurisdiction for investments in the research, development, and manufacturing of clean technology.
We will start by adding electricity storage technologies and electric car charging stations to the list of investments that are eligible for accelerated capital cost allowance
Establish the Canada Green Investment Bond to support both large- and community- scale renewable energy projects.
Dramatically increase the federal government’s use of clean technologies in energy, buildings, and procurement, in order to help create domestic demand for clean technology firms, and to support Canadian entrepreneurs.
Improve energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial products to ensure they reflect the most up-to-date technology, creating competition amongst manufacturers to develop the most energy-efficient technologies.
Provide more support for clean technology companies hoping to export their products, by training trade officials, leading trade missions, and providing data and technical assistance in a more coordinated manner.

Embodied carbon is as important as carbon that is emitted by the burning of fossil energy. The best "bang for our carbon buck" seems to be in geothermal. Solar and wind will be important, but if we are serious about controlling emissions from all sources, geothermal must play an important part, both locally and regionally. British Columbia is poised to be a geothermal powerhouse. Again, by working cooperatively with the provinces the federal government can assist in making geothermal a large scale part of our energy mix. Heat pumps at the local level anywhere only make sense.
Retrofitting buildings to save energy is a priority. It is "low hanging fruit" that will provide us with time to transition to electric for transit and personal transportation. Transportation is the primary target for emissions reductions.

I am the ONLY candidate that is actually living off grid and relying on solar energy to power my family’s home. I understand in practical terms what is required to shift from non-renewables to renewables. I am dedicated to providing support to people living locally to adopt renewable energy more broadly and I have committed to help people working in the non-renewable sector transition to the renewable sector by helping to generate local, well-paying, stable jobs in renewable energy.
Canada’s natural resources and energy industries are a motor for our economy and can be a source of prosperity for many generations to come. But Canadians are increasingly tired of the Conservatives’ divisive and unbalanced approach to energy issues. A New Democratic government will cancel existing fossil fuel subsidies, and re-invest that money into reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to keep supporting Sustainable Development Technology Canada—a remarkable foundation that’s already helped grow more than 230 projects worth $2-billion. Investments in energy efficiency and wind, hydro, solar and geothermal technologies can create thousands more new jobs for Canadians.
The reality is, Canadian companies want to have a good environmental and social reputation at home and abroad – it’s the right thing and it’s good for their bottom-line. But they need a partner, a government ready to provide clear, predicable rules to shape their decision-making.

4.b) According to the World Monetary Fund, our current governments pay subsidies of about $34 billion PER YEAR to the oil and gas industry (Tyee, May 15/14). Given the job benefits coming from alternative energy, what are you prepared to do about the oil and gas industry subsidies?

Not yet received.

See detailed answer at #4.

It makes no sense at all to encourage further investment in resources that will be stranded. It is simply a waste of limited resources, both public and private. Reducing the tax breaks and subsidies to zero only makes sense. As an entrepreneur, I learned that the longer you try to hold on to the past, the more severe the consequences for your business. Only by embracing change and encouraging innovation can we meet the challenges we face. Supporting last centuries industries is not good public policy. 

We have committed to ending subsidies for oil and gas and instead investing in ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Conservatives promised to do this many years ago but have since invested millions of taxpayer dollars to lobby for oil companies internationally and at home.

5.Transportation: Transportation is one of Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.
a) Because the carbon footprint when burning fossil fuels is extremely high and the carbon footprint for driving Electric Vehicles is very low (even taking into consideration the new Tesla batteries which have a very long life), would you give consumers a good rebate for switching to Electric Vehicles? Explain.

Not yet received.

See detailed answer at #4.

The carbon tax and dividend would reward consumers who seek low carbon products, not just in transportation, but across all categories.
Two points from Vision Green directly answer your question:
"Offer scale-based rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase of the most efficient vehicles, including electric vehicles, and scale-based fees on the purchase of inefficient vehicles."
"Provide incentives for Canadian manufacturers of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles."

We are committed to explore the best ways to transition Canada to a clean energy economy – this includes working with the provinces on the electrification of our transportation system to lower greenhouse gas emissions (including investments in the development of “green cars”), improve air quality in our communities, and improve energy security by reducing Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels. We will be making many clean energy announcements in this campaign and we look forward to talking about ways that a New Democrat Government will help Canada become more energy efficient, and help Canadians make greener choices.

5. Transportation: Transportation is one of Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.
b) BC imposed a $10 per tonne tax on carbon pollution in 2008 with increases of $5 per tonne every year after that. BC’s economy grew compared to the rest of Canada in that time period. By 2013 BC’s fossil fuel use (carbon pollution!) dropped over 16 %. (Pembina Institute, Nov/14). What will you do to improve our air quality and mitigate climate change?

Not yet received.

See detailed answer at #4.

I will advocate for the tax and dividend system. The BC carbon tax places the benefits into general revenue. By creating a feedback loop with the citizens making the purchase decisions, we can create a tax that has one goal: a zero carbon economy. Cap and Trade imagines that there is a reasonable amount of emissions that can be determined from the evidence. It does nothing to reduce emissions, it simply holds them at whatever level is determined to be reasonable. Tax and dividend keeps working, using the market, to reduce emissions with a goal of zero, at which point the tax itself becomes moot.
Cap and Trade also leaves the issue of political raising of the cap wide open for future governments to fiddle with. Given the enormous economic pressure that has obviously already been brought to bear on the mainstream parties, it wouldn't be long before the cap was raised.

I am proud of the NDPs history of promoting climate security.
On June 16, 2014 the NDP (Matthew Kellway, MP) re-tabled the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-619), which was originally tabled by Jack Layton in 2007 and ensures “that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing to a long-term target to reduce Canadian domestic greenhouse gas emissions to a level that is at least 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050, and by establishing interim targets for the period 2020 to 2045. It creates an obligation for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to review proposed measures to meet the targets and submit a report to Parliament.”
This bill was introduced and passed twice by the House. The first time the Bill died after Harper called an election in 2008 and the second time the Bill was defeated when the Senate killed it. The killing of a Bill by the Senate after being adopted by the House was the first time this happened in 75 years.
On October 19, 2014 the NDP (Linda Duncan, MP) introduced legislation protecting BC’s coast from the Enbridge Northern Gateway and created an Environmental Bill of Rights (Bill C-634) to legally enshrine environmental rights for all Canadians. In addition, this Bill gives Canadians the right to take the federal government to court when those rights are denied. The NDP proposed this five years ago also, but it was voted it down.
The NDP resolves to do the following with respect to climate change:
1.establish binding targets and clear standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions;
2.implement a revenue-generating carbon market to ensure industry reduces greenhouse gas emissions to targets set by government;
3.impose strict energy efficiency and emissions standards for motor vehicles, appliances, and buildings;
4.rescind tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel industries;
5.promote clean, renewable energy to mitigate the negative effect of non-renewable energy;
6.invest in the development of “green cars”;
7.provide substantive support to workers in the transition to a cleaner energy economy;
8.take leadership internationally to prevent environmental damage to the planet;
9.adhere to international agreements to reverse climate change, including those with binding regulations, such as the Kyoto Agreement; and
10.demand environmental standards in all trade agreements to which Canada is a signatory

Furthermore, the NDP are in favour of a national carbon price in the form of cap-and-trade; we are considering equivalency agreements in which a province can be exempted from federal regulations upon demonstration that its measures can have a comparable outcome.
It is also critical to work Nation-to-Nation with Indigenous governments to address climate change and ensure equitable participation in the stewardship of the environment and resources.

5.Transportation: Transportation is one of Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.
c) Would you do as Norway did ($1 trillion US collected so far) and use carbon taxes for social and environmental initiatives?  Explain.

Not yet received.

See detailed answer at #4.

The resource royalties that Norway has used to build their heritage fund were not originally conceived as a carbon tax. They were set as what was fair for the people of the country under which the resources lay, a concept that was lost on successive provincial governments in Canada.
Carbon tax and dividend is different. It is based on economic principles and is not designed to provide a pool of revenue for use, misuse and abuse by the various political parties likely to be in power over its life span. The goal is a zero carbon economy, and by harnessing people's self-interest as shown by their purchasing activity in the marketplace, we can achieve it without hoping that the money will be directed to socially and environmentally progressive objectives.
Each individual receives the average dividend. Those who seek out low carbon solutions (cars, homes, consumer goods, food) will be rewarded monetarily. Those who don't change at all will be no better and no worse off. Those who seek products that are carbon intensive will be penalized financially. Companies who seek price advantage in the market will "win", while those who do not change will suffer loss of market share and eventual bankruptcy.
The beauty of the idea (originally proposed by James Hansen) is that it requires minimal regulation and works with the neoliberal economic perspectives that currently dominate our economic system, instead of fighting against them. Economic jujitsu, just like the Guaranteed Livable Income that the Greens are proposing. The dividend from the carbon tax would initially make up part of the GLI, so it could be considered as a redirect to economically and socially useful goals.

We will reinvest revenues from the cap and trade program in the regions from which they were derived, and use them to support renewable energy, public transit, energy efficiency, and the transition from fossil fuels, including providing support to workers in the move to a cleaner energy economy.

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