Here in BC we’re one week into the provincial election campaign. The environment has been one of the bigger stories, but not in a way you would expect. Environmentalists have been fighting amongst themselves trying to figure out which party is more evil: the Liberals for the Gateway program, privatizing water resources, and numerous environmental failings; or the NDP for its opportunistic opposition to North America’s first carbon tax. I’m not happy with either party, and will likely vote Green for the first time ever, but it’s worth digging in to this issue a bit more.
One of my favourite blogs, the DeSmogBlog, the David Suzuki Foundation, and prominent environmentalist Tzeporah Berman has been leading the charge against the NDP. I’ve been a bit upset about their hammering of the NDP. No doubt, the NDP deserves the criticism, but the sole focus on the carbon tax has ignored all the failings of the Liberal government on other issues. It’s as if a tiny carbon tax (which up until now has had no impact on reducing carbon emissions) has excused the Liberals for all of their environmental sins, like Gateway which alone will lead to more emissions then the carbon tax will reduce.
Ian Gill, the president of Ecotrust where Emily works, wrote an insightful blog post today where he asks people to look at each party’s whole platform and examine how each piece addresses climate change. Also today, the mayors of Metro Vancouver have announced that they want part of the carbon tax revenue to be spent on public transit (from Stephen Rees’s blog). I think this is a great idea. I’ve written about the carbon tax before. It’s biggest failing is that the revenue all goes into tax reductions, and none goes to provide alternatives to avoid paying the carbon tax. Most carbon emitting actions aren’t optional for the average person – driving his car and heating her house are unavoidable. A successful carbon tax needs to change behaviour, but that is only possible if choices are available. It makes sense to fund those alternatives with the carbon tax.
The NDP’s opposition of the carbon tax has pissed me off. Even though I think the carbon tax is ineffective in its current form, it should be improved not axed. The NDP stance is pure political opportunism. The party thinks it can gain more votes in the suburbs and the interior (where public transit is non existent) then it will lose in places like Vancouver. The worst part is they are probably right. Under our current electoral system, their are only a handful of swing ridings that decide the election. Most of those ridings happen to be in the suburbs and the interior. My current riding is so heavily NDP, that my defection to the Green Party will hardly be noticed by the NDP. It’s one of the many reasons I support BC-STV. Under an STV electoral system, each vote becomes a lot more important because there are less “wasted” votes (votes for losing candidates or for candidates that have more then enough to win). If we had STV, the NDP would be less likely to turn against environmentalists within the party to try and win a few extra swing votes in tighter contests elsewhere.
The other big election story was the NDP candidate in Vancouver, Ray Lam, who had to resign because someone leaked inappropriate photos from his Facebook page. He’s 22. Who under the age of 30 doesn’t have inappropriate photos of them posted online? Seriously. I think we’re dealing with a major generation gap issue here. I’m sure most elected politicians have done stupider stings when they were younger (heck, Gordon Campbell was arrested for drunk driving!), but they didn’t grow up in an age where photos were digital and posted online for all to see. And just to make it easier for anyone trying to discredit me, here are the photos I could find on Flickr that will preclude me from entering politics, and I live a pretty tame life. (Note: I’m know there are worse of me out there somewhere)