The Sustainable Environment Network Society is hosting a forum on Thursday, September 26 at the Schubert Centre in Vernon, BC. These are the questions asked of each candidate.
Question 1. Blue Dot Pledge: Everyone in Canada should have the right to clean air and a safe, healthy environment. In early May SENS asked all candidates to sign a pledge to uphold this right. Thank-you for signing to: Marc Reinarz (Green Party),Harwinder Sandhu (NDP), and Cindy Derkaz (Liberal Party).
a) Explain why you signed (or did not sign) the pledge.
b) Should you NOT be elected, what will you do locally to support everyone’s right to clean air and a safe, healthy environment?
Answer 1. Blue Dot Pledge
a) I signed the pledge because I agree that the law should recognize the right to a healthy environment for all people in Canada.
Further, at the Liberal Party National Convention in Halifax 2019 the following resolution was passed as a priority resolution. I supported the resolution and voted for it as my top priority.
Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights
- On June 16, 2010, all Liberal Members of Parliament present in the House of Commons voted in favor of Bill C-469 (40-3), an Act to Establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, to “safeguard the right of present and future generations of Canadians to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment”;
- In a 2015 report, the International Institute for Sustainable Development calculated poor air quality resulted in the premature death of 7,700 Canadians and smog cost Canada $36 billion;
- The United Nations (UN) recognizes environmental rights as a basic human right, and on March 7, 2016, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded that Canada has failed to provide adequate environmental protection;
- Tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals now contaminate our air, water, soil, food, and homes, with some of those chemicals linked to increasing incidences of certain chronic diseases;
- New technologies are being used with few independent, peer-reviewed studies and no transparent, inclusive, in-depth discussion on possible environmental and health impacts;
- Experts at the Université du Québec à Montréal, the David Suzuki Foundation and stakeholders across Canada contributed to the preparation of this resolution;
BE IT RESOLVED the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to enact legislation establishing a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, whose purpose is to ensure all Canadians have access to adequate environmental information, justice in an environmental context and effective mechanisms for participating in environmental decision-making in accordance with the provisions of Bill C-469 (40-3).
b) First let me tell you what I would do if I AM elected:
As your Member of Parliament (MP) I will consult with environmental organizations in North Okanagan-Shuswap to see if there is interest in joining a regular conference call with me (perhaps monthly) to keep me apprised of local environmental issues and the work being done by their organizations. I will listen and, although we may not always agree, I will take those concerns into consideration and work collaboratively and respectfully on solutions.
And if I am NOT elected, I will continue to do what I have done for the last five decades in North Okanagan-Shuswap:
I will continue to “walk the talk” when it comes to the environment. I will continue to advocate on environmental issues, drive our electric vehicles, not travel by air for vacations, donate to, and volunteer for, environmental causes and reduce, reuse, compost and recycle. I am a life-time member of Shuswap Environmental Action Society and have contributed 100s of hours of pro bono legal work on environmental issues over the decades. I am also a member of the Sustainable Environment Network Society in the North Okanagan.
Question 2. Jobs:
a) Multinational industries have a major influence on Canadian health, jobs, and laws. They can, through NAFTA, receive ‘damage’ costs AND pollute our air, soil and waters with impunity if they can show that our environmental laws impact their ability to make money. What will you do about this?
b) There are cases (e.g., Lavington Glass Plant and Nanaimo logging company) where a multinational company buys a Canadian company, then later (possibly having run it into the ground) closes it down to conserve jobs in another country. We lose well paying jobs. How would you act to prevent this happening in the first place?
c) 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). 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 to encourage jobs in alternative energy and to deal with oil and gas industry subsidies?
Answer 2. Jobs
a) The “new NAFTA” or CUSMA has an environmental chapter (unlike NAFTA which dealt with environmental issues in a side agreement) which formalizes how the three countries will cooperate on environmental protection and conservation. It includes a commitment not to fail to enforce parties’ environmental laws in ways that affect trade or investment between the parties (Article 24.4). This standard commitment has two new noteworthy features: it includes the modern caveat about the sovereign right to exercise discretion in environmental enforcement, in terms of priority-setting, resource-allocation, etc. And it has a pioneering broad definition of “affecting trade or investment between the parties” that makes this provision much more meaningful. Further, thanks to a hard line taken by Minister Freeland and the Canadian negotiators, the dispute resolution provision of NAFTA has been retained. I support this progress and will advocate for protection of Canadian environmental sovereignty in trade negotiations.
b) This is a complex issue that would require a case by case analysis. As the MP, I would be a voice for local jobs and would work with business and employees to find solutions.
c) Yes, I will advocate for jobs in alternative energy and advocate for a phase out of oil and gas industry subsidies.
Question 3. Climate Change: Climate Change is real and happening around us all the time now. According to the UN, we only have 12 years to act before positive feedback loops create ever increasing wild and unexpected weather and global warming. It has already impacted locals due to health and business loss last year during the fires.
a) What are you doing now, and what will you do to mitigate this disaster to reduce suffering of locals and other Canadians?
b) What will you do to ensure that carbon polluters (of air, water, land) will pay? B.C. did better than the rest of the provinces despite introduction of a carbon tax. What are your thoughts?
c) Many (companies/people) choose not to rethink, refuse, reduce or reuse because action will cost billions…but the cost of NOT dealing with climate change will cost trillions. What will you do about it?
Answer 3. Climate Change: There is no issue more important to our future than climate change. There is a national climate emergency. I support the government’s Climate Action plan.
a) We need a robust plan, developed in consultation with other levels of government and Canadians, to address adaptation and mitigation together with a financial plan to deal with the inevitable consequences of climate change. It could start with opening air-conditioned public facilities to the public for respite from wildfire smoke.
This is a priority.
b) The Liberal government has implemented a nationwide price on pollution. As we have seen in British Columbia (BC) over the past decade, pricing pollution provides a powerful economic incentive for individuals, businesses and communities to invest in low carbon options – e.g. electric vehicles, solar power, retrofitting homes, more efficient equipment for industry, and rapid transit in urban centres. And despite the recent election of conservative provincial premiers (i.e. Ford, Kenney, Moe), the federal government has stayed the course. It is no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada. Andrew Scheer has committed to “axing the tax” and taking us back more than 15 years in the fight for the environment.
c) Step up regulation and enforcement including tackling single use plastics. Provide economic incentives (e.g. pricing pollution) to encourage more reuse, reduction, and rethinking.
Question 4. Pesticides: The Canada Health Agency has allowed use of Chlorpyrifor pesticide (on many fruits and vegetables) despite scientific evidence showing it can irreversibly impact children’s brain development and hormonal systems. They also still allow use of Roundup. Roundup’s active ingredient – Glyphosate – “may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies” (Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal “Entropy”). Other supposedly inert ingredients in Roundup have now been proven to be deadly to human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells (Scientific American). Forestry in BC uses it heavily to kill all deciduous trees (shown to deter forest fires when part of a mixed pine/fir/cedar forest). Roundup is now in our underground and surface water and our soil.
If elected would you ban Chlorpyrifor and also follow the example of the Netherlands and other countries which have banned Roundup? Explain.
Answer 4. Pesticides: I understand the concern about pesticide use. All government decisions must be based on science, including decisions on the use of chlorpyrifor and glysophate. Essential to any decision is consistent rigorous monitoring and reporting.
Question 5. 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?
Answer 5. Agriculture: I support and will work to foster small scale agriculture in North Okanagan-Shuswap. I see the local producers of high-quality products as part of a vibrant agricultural sector here. Over the last five years, I have attended workshops on food security, sustainable farming and tourism and have learned a lot from farmers including the Young Agrarians. My vision is to have our region known nationally for its sustainably-produced high-quality products. I see the rail trail as key to drawing tourists to our area and am working hard to see that construction of the northern section (Armstrong to Sicamous).
Question 6. 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?
Answer 6. Healing Our Forests: After visiting Interfor mill at Adams Lake this week, I see the valuable role that technology can have in the forestry sector. Interfor is progressive in using the world class innovations that have been developed locally (they refer to Salmon Arm as the “Silicon Valley” of the forestry industry). Through innovation the industry can be both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Question 7. Transportation: Transportation is one of Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.
a) Would you do as Norway did (well over $1 trillion US collected so far) and use carbon taxes for social and environmental initiatives (green spending and compensation for those who are disproportionally affected by a CO2 levy)? Explain.
b) How would you approach the ‘elephant in the room’ – people who travel a lot by air, which greatly increases carbon emissions?
Answer 7. Transportation:
a) The federal price on pollution is putting more money back in the pockets of Canadian families as well as investing in social and environmental initiatives.
b) Finally, we do not want any elephants in the room (species at risk). I believe that personal actions are important as we strive to lessen our carbon footprint. My family has switched to EVs (Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona) and has decided not to travel by air for vacations although we will do so for family emergencies or business. This may not be possible for everyone, but we all need to do what we can to “walk the talk” when it comes to the environment.
Thank you for hosting an All Candidates’ Forum on the environment.