Environment, economy top issues that could sway voters in board of trade poll

Sep 20, 2019

Photo: Andrey Khachatryan/Shutterstock

Editor’s Note: With Aviation being mainly under Federal jurisdiction, Heather Bell, BCAC Chair, and Dave Frank, Executive Director, attended the following event. The priority voters give to the environment is clearly an issue our membership needs to continue facing head on. The May Conference Committee is exploring making the environment the key event topic. Feedback on this is welcome!


Almost half (49 per cent) of Metro residents listed the environment as the top issue that would sway their vote, followed by the economy at 27 per cent and affordability at 21, in the poll conducted by the Evi Mustel Group, in partnership with PR firm FleishmanHillard Highroad. Yet, for board-of-trade members surveyed as part of the VoteLocal initiative, the economy led concerns for 45 per cent of respondents followed by the environment at 37 per cent and affordability again at 21 per cent.

“Is it really planet versus pocketbook here? I don’t think so,” said Anna Lilly, Senior Vice-President at FleishmanHillard in releasing the results with Mustel Group Principal Evi Mustel at a board-of-trade event. “I think voters are telling us they want to hear from the parties about these three issues,” which Lilly said are “the driving forces of public opinion going into a campaign.”

The board, on Monday, gave all four major parties a chance to respond to the issues raised. The survey results also gave the parties considerable leeway, considering that while respondents listed climate change as a top concern, they were also in favour of continued oil-and-gas development, so long as companies “(invest) in strategies to transition” to renewable energy. Some 53 per cent of respondents in the general population and 69 per cent of board members held that position.

Liberal Jonathan Wilkinson keyed in on the concept of energy transition in his response arguing that the government’s climate plan, which the party is running on in the election, is that “thoughtful transition.” That included signing the Paris climate agreement in 2015, a plan to phase out coal power, invest in electric-vehicle infrastructure, transit and “put a price on pollution,” otherwise known as a carbon tax. “We also need to think of fighting climate change as an economic opportunity,” said Wilkinson, with needs to invest in more new-energy and emission-reduction technologies. Parties “must have an aggressive, but thoughtful, plan to fight climate change while ensuring Canada’s continuing economic prosperity,” said Wilkinson, who is running to retain his North Vancouver riding.

Conservative candidate Ed Fast, a former international trade minister in Stephen Harper’s government, also linked to respondents’ views about being comfortable with resource development, leaning less on the concept of transition.

“Our environmental plan recognizes you cannot tax your way to a clean environment,” said Fast, who is running to retain his Abbotsford riding.

The Conservatives’ first step would be to cancel the Liberal government’s carbon-pricing regime, then repeal its revisions to environmental assessment legislation. Their plan relies heavily on incentives for large carbon-dioxide emitters to invest in reducing emissions or carbon-capture technology. At the same time, Fast said Canada is “perfectly positioned” to help other countries displace dirtier fuels with cleaner fuels such as natural gas recognizing “climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response.”

The NDP’s Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby running for the job again, said a faster transition away from fossil fuels is necessary, regardless of the public’s thoughts on the topic.

“It is a climate crisis and people are looking for leadership,” Julian said, which he says his party’s plan delivers on with a 50-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years. However, he said there is also “tremendous potential” to create 300,000 new jobs in developing clean energy, rather than buying and building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which he characterized as a “$17-billion boondoggle.”

Green party candidate Jesse Brown, who is running in Vancouver Centre, where Liberal Hedy Fry is the long-term incumbent, held out his party’s platform for a “just transition” to renewable energy with retraining and support for oil-and-gas workers to segue from one industry to another.

Liberal emission reduction targets are too low and government is moving too slow, Brown said. The Green target is 50 per cent by 2030 and to net zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

(News Source: Vancouver Sun, Derrick Penner)

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