Before the 2020 election, we asked the major parties in B.C. about some of the most important issues on our coast: their stance on a coastal strategy and law, fossil fuel subsidies, Indigenous Guardian programs, plastics and contaminants, and fish farms.
Find out what they said below.
Coastal Protection Act
If elected, will you (your party) commit to the development and implementation of a BC Coastal Strategy and Law in the coming term?
Yes. A re-elected NDP government will develop and implement a new provincial coastal strategy – in partnership with First Nations and federal and local governments – to better protect coastal habitat while growing coastal economies. A priority will be working with the federal government to address freighter traffic management and anchorages around southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Our coastal communities and ecosystems are facing a number of complex challenges that require a coordinated and strategic response. The challenges range from current and worsening impacts of climate change, environmental degradation, significant risk from increased tanker traffic, and overlapping jurisdiction that results in governments passing the buck to each other on crucial issues, like protecting our wild salmon and management of ocean debris. We don’t pretend that a Coastal Law and Strategy would be a panacea to all of these challenges, but it would enable the BC government to be a more deliberate and impactful actor in managing our coastal ecosystems and protecting coastal communities, including where it interacts with the Federal government.
A BC Liberal government will take meaningful action to enhance and protect our water resources by:
• Working with federal, municipal and First Nations partners, as well as outdoor recreation and conservancy organizations, to ensure the ongoing restoration of wildlife populations.
• Implementing a robust program to engage the public to significantly reduce plastic and Styrofoam waste in our oceans and waterways.
• Appointing a Minister responsible for Fisheries and Coastlines to enhance and protect our water and fish resources.
If elected, how will your government deal with the economically and environmentally unsustainable fossil fuel industry?
We agree that the current system of royalty credits should be reviewed; that is why a reelected NDP government will conduct a comprehensive review of oil and natural gas royalty credits from an environmental lens.
Today BC’s oil and gas sector supports families and communities across our province. The transition to a low carbon economy will not occur overnight, but our government has demonstrated our commitment to get there.
Our CleanBC plan is the strongest climate action plan in North America and we are working hard to create a clean-energy future for British Columbians. We know that to meet our climate goals we need to work with industry to reduce their emissions. That’s what we’ve been doing.
Through our CleanBC programs for industry we’re helping businesses to reduce their emissions and continue to strengthen benchmarks.
Our platform doubles down on our CleanBC plan – strengthening and expanding it. By investing in new technology, such as carbon capture and storage, and expanding programs to build a low-carbon economy we will put BC on-track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
We agree that fossil fuel subsidies are environmentally and economically disastrous. They amount to taxpayer-funded climate change. We have consistently fought against fossil fuel subsidies, but the BC NDP have given even more handouts to this industry than the BC Liberals did. This year alone, the NDP are giving $1 billion dollars to fossil fuel companies. You cannot have it both ways – you cannot claim to be a climate leader while also subsidizing the very industry that is driving this crisis. If BC is going to build a world leading low-carbon economy, it has to move away from fossil fuels altogether. The BC Greens are the only party with a plan that will meet our climate commitments while taking full advantage of the economic opportunities that a clean recovery offers. We’ll do this by supporting innovation and the development of clean industries in BC, providing the tools and incentives needed to meet our targets, and ensuring a just transition for those workers impacted by the ending of the fossil fuel economy.
We will move to end all fossil fuel subsidies, and work to implement a moratorium on fracking. We will redirect the $1 billion we currently spend on fossil fuel subsidies to spurring green innovation in BC to help grow businesses in BC and help us meet our goal of being a world-leading low-carbon economy. We will also establish a $500 million fund to support sustainable jobs focused on enhancing BC’s natural assets, tree planting, conservation, remediating environmental liabilities, as well as climate adaptation and improving community resilience to climate change. And we will implement a just transition program for workers in the oil and gas sector and other industries in transition, working with them on a pathway to a guaranteed job in the clean economy.
The BC Greens commit to having our province be carbon neutral by 2045, matching California. We will also develop a robust strategy to meet the 2030 target, and develop an accountability framework to ensure we get there. Only if we get out of the businesses of propping up fossil fuel companies and expanding fracking will we be able to meet this challenge and succeed.
We all know that the world is moving away from oil within our lifetimes. BC is well placed for this challenge with our strong clean and green hydro resources that provide all of our electricity. Unfortunately, the NDP cut the 2020 budget of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy by $4.6 million, including significant cuts to the Environmental Protection, Environmental Sustainability, BC Park, and Conservation Officer Services. A BC Liberal Government will:
• Encourage the retrofitting of homes and businesses, creating new jobs and reducing energy costs.
• Work with businesses and municipalities to support investment in electric vehicle charging stations.
• Support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions.
• Ensure a comprehensive greenhouse gas strategy that reduces emissions while enabling our world-leading sustainable resource development and Indigenous land use.
• Ensure decisions in every Ministry across government are made with environmental improvement as an overarching goal.
• Improve the provincial building code to maximize energy-efficiency in a way that respects communities’ unique geography, and avoids imposing one-size-fits-all costs with minimal environmental benefit.
• Work with the federal government to review scheduled increases in the Carbon Tax in light of the current economic recession.
If elected, how will your government support the long term viability and expansion of Indigenous Guardian programs in BC?
One of the proudest moments of our government’s first three years in office came in late 2019, when BC became the first province to enshrine the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in law. The 2019 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has set the table for more meaningful shared decision making – and that would guide our approach to Indigenous Guardians programs.
Our 2020 platform makes commitments in a number of areas in which Indigenous Guardians programs could play a role.
For example, a re-elected BC NDP government is committed to doing more to reflect Indigenous peoples’ history and cultures in provincial parks and wilderness areas, supporting the expansion of Indigenous Guardians could be one way to achieve that goal. Our provincial coastal strategy will be developed and implemented in partnership with First Nations, which is another initiative in which Indigenous Guardians could play a role.
Our economic recovery plan – StrongerBC – also includes a number of initiatives, such as funding for natural habitat stewardship and clean up, that the Indigenous Guardians programs could connect to.
Ultimately it will be for Indigenous communities to determine whether they see a role for Guardians Programs in these or other initiatives, if so, that is something a re-elected NDP government would be open to exploring further.
The BC Greens are committed to working every day to ensure that the provincial government delivers on its commitment to create an action plan, as required by the legislation, to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The time for lots of words is over. The provincial government needs to be sitting across the table in a good way, ready to implement and live up to what we have committed to do. In the face of COVID, we need to double down on the urgency of the action plan, committing new resources and energy to reforming our relationships with Indigenous communities across all aspects of our society and our economy.
Our approach to Indigenous rights and autonomy is to ask questions, listen, and create true partnerships. We are strongly supportive of the principle of the Indigenous Guardians program, and we will review the possibility of expansion in collaboration with Indigenous communities across our province. Our dedicated funding through the Watershed Security Fund as well as our sustainable jobs program would both allow for significant expansion of the Indigenous Guardians program and other stewardship initiatives in communities across BC.
The BC Liberal platform delivers a plan to achieve reconciliation and new opportunities for Indigenous peoples. We must act boldly as a province in working with our First Nations and federal government partners to address issues of economic and social inequality faced by Indigenous peoples. A BC Liberal Government will:
• Work with Indigenous peoples to ensure we don’t saddle future generations with unresolved issues of rights and title. We will work every single day to resolve these issues.
• Work to clearly define how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) relates to land use decisions and existing case law regarding title held by Indigenous peoples and the right to self-determination.
• Actively support the right of First Nations to negotiate for the economic benefit of their peoples with additional supports from the province, including renewing capacity funding.
• Provide financing mechanisms to enable First Nations to access affordable capital to coinvest in revenue-generating economic opportunities.
• Prioritize sector-specific job-training opportunities for Indigenous peoples.
If elected, will your government take definitive action to transition B.C.’s open-net pen salmon farms to land-based closed containment operations, such as discontinuing open-net pen fish farm tenures, as soon as possible?
Wild salmon are crucial to the success of our economy, the prosperity of coastal communities, and the lives, culture, and history of Indigenous peoples.
With the Broughton Process our government demonstrated there is an alternative to the approach the previous Liberal government took to fish farms. Guided by the science and a commitment to reconciliation, our government made different choices.
That approach can also be seen in our government’s creation of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council that brought together fishers, First Nations leaders, academic researchers, and elected officials from across party lines to help develop a wild salmon strategy to protect B.C. salmon today and for future generations.
Our economic recovery plan took action on their recommendations, investing over $25 million in species and ecosystem conservation, and the creation of a new Clean Coast Clean Waters Fund.
A re-elected NDP would continue to build on that work. Our platform commits to build on the successful Broughton process, support innovation in fish hatcheries, and step up protection of fish habitat through our biodiversity strategy.
Yes. We commit to working with DFO, First Nations, local communities and industry to cancel open-net pen fish farm tenures, and create a closed-containment land-based fish farming industry. We support the full implementation of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council recommendations and Cohen Commission recommendations, working urgently to enforce all measures within provincial jurisdiction, and we will negotiate strongly with DFO to complete the recommendations under federal jurisdiction.
The threats to fish stocks are many – habitat and ecosystem degradation, poor management, fish farms and climate change. Standing up for wild salmon has been a defining mission for the BC Green caucus during the minority government. Over the course of the last government term, MLA Adam Olsen dedicated a large portion of his work in the Legislature to salmon policy. He questioned every ministry about their fisheries policies and learned that six Ministries all have a “lead role” in managing salmon and steelhead, in addition to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. From a provincial perspective, we urgently need better coordination and accountability.
We need to see far more regulatory and financial support to aid in the creation of a closed-containment land-based fish farm sector. Likewise, we would consult on alternate aquaculture practices that are not polluting, such as the farming of food-grade seaweed, to create new and sustainable employment opportunities. There have been countless studies on what we should do to help wild salmon – what is missing is the political will to action those solutions. We must act urgently and ambitiously to save BC’s salmon.
A BC Liberal government led by Andrew Wilkinson will act to enhance fish and wildlife populations, for the benefit of all British Columbians who love and depend on our great outdoors for jobs and recreation. A BC Liberal Government will:
• Appoint a Minister responsible for Fisheries and Coastlines to enhance and protect our water and fish resources.
• Adopt a robust salmon and steelhead conservation measures before it’s too late to save these iconic species.
• Work with federal, municipal and First Nations partners, as well as outdoor recreation and conservancy organizations, to ensure the ongoing restoration of wildlife populations.
Plastics, Contaminants and Wastewater
If elected, will your government fund tertiary wastewater treatment upgrades for communities surrounding the Salish Sea?
Since the BC NDP formed government we have demonstrated our commitment to protecting coastal waters. From MLA Malcomson’s work on marine debris, to our Plastics Action Plan, to the $25 million we committed this year to species and ecosystem conservation, and the creation of a new Clean Coast Clean Waters Fund – our government has important steps and we recognize there is much more to do.
While BC NDP platform does not address the particular issue of tertiary wastewater treatment upgrades for communities surrounding the Salish Sea specifically, it makes a number of commitments related to the issues raised here, such as our commitment to create a provincial coastal strategy.
When it comes to funding wastewater treatment upgrades, our platform commits to creating a new Recovery Investment Fund which will invest an additional $3 billion each year in community infrastructure projects.
These are some of the ways that a re-elected NDP government would continue the work we have done to protect coastal waters, including the Salish Sea.
We are committed to protecting and restoring habitat to support endangered species in BC, and to better manage our resources to prevent more species from getting onto the endangered list. The protection of habitat extends to dealing with contaminants and ensuring that the environment is clean and supports healthy populations. We will review the situation regarding wastewater effluent and the science, and will work with the Federal government to reduce the flows of contaminants into our oceans that are detrimental to marine ecosystems, including with the necessary funding.
BC needs a government that is committed both to protecting our natural environment and the diverse species dependent on it through evidence-based policy. That’s why the BC Liberals have a plan that includes addressing plastics, contaminants, and wastewater. A BC Liberal Government will:
• Implement wetland protection, and expansion where feasible, to ensure no net loss of wetlands in BC.
• Implement a robust program to engage the public to significantly reduce plastic and Styrofoam waste in our oceans and waterways.
• Appoint a Minister responsible for Fisheries and Coastlines to enhance and protect our water and fish resources.