B.C. Green Party Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidate Lia Versaevel, middle, speaks at Nanaimo’s first all-candidates meeting earlier this month at Dover Bay Secondary School. At her table are fellow Green candidates Kathleen Harris and Glenn Sollitt. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

B.C. Green Party Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidate Lia Versaevel, middle, speaks at Nanaimo’s first all-candidates meeting earlier this month at Dover Bay Secondary School. At her table are fellow Green candidates Kathleen Harris and Glenn Sollitt. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Greens address carbon tax and foreign buyers in platform

Green Party proposed 30-per cent foreign buyers tax

  • May. 2, 2017 10:00 a.m.

Foreign buyers and the environment are two areas the Green Party of British Columbia would address should they win the upcoming election.

The province’s third largest political party released its platform last week.

It promises to spend $1.5 billion on education over four years, raise the foreign buyers tax, build roughly 4,000 units of affordable housing per year, eliminate Medical Service Plan premiums, introduce a proportional voting system by 2021, ban cash-for-access events, and increase the carbon tax rate.

Kathleen Harris, candidate for the B.C. Green Party in the Nanaimo riding, said her party’s platform is ethically sound, takes a strong stance on all the keys issues and is for all people in B.C.

“It takes a strong ethical position in supporting real people and not investing in self-serving dichotomies like unions or corporations. It’s fully costed. It takes an informed approach, not a reactionary one, which we recognize and use expert opinion as opposed to just partisan ideology,” she said. “We are speaking for the people. There are ethics [in the platform] in that we are not taking corporate donations from people. That’s a big thing for me.”

Among the Green’s promises is a provincewide 30-per cent foreign buyers tax. Harris said 30 per cent would make a difference and points to Prince Edward Island, which has a 50-per cent tax on foreign buyers and limits how much land foreign buyers can purchase.

“P.E.I. is a great example. They’ve been at the forefront for having these kinds of policies for decades now,” she said. “At one time, the U.S. was starting to buy up a lot of [properties] on P.E.I. I know when I was there it was 50 per cent more that foreign buyers had to pay and it kept things affordable for the people.”

Harris said P.E.I.’s model has ensured that locals have affordable access to housing, something that is badly needed in British Columbia.

“It is a proven way to help with cooling the housing crisis and it doesn’t negatively impact our domestic buyer and families,” she said.

Another key promise by the Greens is to increase carbon taxes significantly over the next four years. They would first introduce $10 per tonne per year for four years. They would also extend carbon tax to fugitive and vented emissions, which would be taxed at a rate of $10 per tonne until 2021, when it would be taxed at $50 per tonne. Harris said increasing carbon taxes is an effective way to clamp down on major polluters in the province.

“The experts internationally agree that carbon tax is the most effective way to address these issues and to start putting pressure on these industries to adapt to these new economies and to adapt in a responsible way,” she said.

If elected, the Greens would make B.C. Ferries a crown corporation once again. Harris said the party plans to review the service entirely and make improvements, but not in a haphazard way.

“It’s really a matter of re-looking at it and assessing it from a structural perspective and having a comprehensive look at it to see how we can improve things,” she said. “B.C. Ferries is obviously something that really impacts people on the Island and there are many ways of making improvements but you need to do it in a comprehensive approach because piecemeal approaches don’t work.”

Leonard Krog, Nanaimo NDP incumbent, said the Green Party’s platform is basically the NDP platform without the fiscal discipline.

“When you are in the serious race and you know that you are going to have to deliver and you don’t want to increase voter cynicism, you have to be realistic and disciplined and the fact that they want to copy so much of our platform tells me we are on the right track,” he said.

Paris Gaudet, Liberal candidate in the Nanaimo riding, said the Green party’s platform will crush the province’s economy.

“Just like the NDP, the Green Party is proposing billions in reckless spending and new taxes that would drive our economy into the ground and kill jobs,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

The provincial election is May 9.

nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Nanaimo News Bulletin