Federal candidates debate environmental policy

The environment was a hot topic during last week's all-candidates debate at EMCS.

The Edward Milne Community School theatre became the stage for an all-candidates debate on Wednesday, which was divided between Sooke-Esquimalt-Saanich riding candidates David Merner, Liberals, Francis Litman, Green Party and Randall Garrison, NDP.

Conservative candidate Shari Lukens did not attend the event.

Six questions were prepared, all of which covered environment-driven topics such as the creation of local green jobs, sustainable energy, as well as the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline expansions.

Much of the focus, however, remained on the world impact of oil, notably in regards to reducing Canada’s own carbon footprint, an issue Litman was eager to address first.

“We propose a carbon fee and dividend approach, which may be 10 cents more expensive for some of us at the tank to make it happen, but at the same time we will re-distribute the dividend in the form of a guaranteed livable income to all Canadians,” she said, adding that the Greens will also end thermocoal exports, phase out rapid coal fire generation plants and stop the expansion of oil and gas.

Garrison suggested the NDP’s plan to implement a cap and trade system as opposed to the Green party’s direct taxation at the pump.

“Green policy hopes that taxes will do that, but it does not create direct investments in lowering greenhouse gases,” he said.

“A cap and trade system sets limits, and companies have to then stay below those limits, if they can’t, they have to buy credits from someone who has done better than them.”

Merner disagreed with the NDP’s cap and trade system, calling it “a bureaucratic failure,” instead, the Liberals’ focus would remain on developing carbon pricing framework across all provinces in the country.

“The cap and trade approach is a licence to pollute, the board of the Land Conservancy of Canada decided not to get into cap and trade because it’s much better to price carbon,” he said.

One thing all three candidates agreed on was to put an end to the pipeline expansions that inch ever so closely from the east towards British Columbia’s coasts, let alone to the addition of a whole new fleet of extra tankers that will sail local waters.

“The Green party says no to these tankers. We’re realistic, we understand we’re using oil and gas every day and we have plastics, but we need to ween ourselves from this extract and export system that we’re in,” Litman said.

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