Environment debate heats up in B.C.

Broadcaster David Suzuki is backing Green Party candidates both federally and provincially. - Black Press files
Broadcaster David Suzuki is backing Green Party candidates both federally and provincially.
— image credit: Black Press files

Prominent voices in the environment and petroleum debate are speaking out this week, with a federal by-election in Victoria set for Nov. 26.

The seat vacated when MP Denise Savoie retired for health reasons in August has been considered safe NDP territory in recent years. But the Green Party of Canada is making an extra effort to add to its 2011 breakthrough when Green leader Elizabeth May won the party's first-ever federal seat, Saanich North and the Islands.

The Green Party arranged a fundraiser Monday night for candidate Donald Galloway, a University of Victoria law professor who has been advising May on policy. The event features broadcaster David Suzuki, UVic climate scientist Andrew Weaver and musician Dan Mangan.

The NDP has nominated lawyer Murray Rankin, who has been advising the provincial NDP on opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair visited Victoria last week, where he declared that neither the Enbridge pipeline nor the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby should be considered until Ottawa's environmental approval process is strengthened.

The Liberal Party candidate, economist Paul Summerville, stirred up local debate by opposing the Capital Regional District's proposed land-based sewage treatment.

Conservative candidate Dale Gann, president of Vancouver Island Technology Park, initially backed the project that has one-third funding from provincial and federal governments. But Gann changed his position after getting an earful from voters about property tax increases and the need to replace sewage outfalls to the ocean.

While the politicians knock on doors, Enbridge vice-president Janet Holder is scheduled to speak to the Canadian Club of Victoria on Tuesday. Enbridge has faced strong opposition as federal environment hearings continue into its proposed heavy oil pipeline to Kitimat.

Suzuki has also endorsed Weaver, one of Canada's leading experts in climate change, who is running as a Green Party of B.C. candidate in the provincial election scheduled for May.

Weaver and other climate scientists argue that the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in the eastern United States was made worse by greenhouse gas emissions from global fossil fuel extraction, including coal, oil and natural gas.

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