Vaughn Palmer: NDP leadership race provides opportunity to raise old growth, fracking and LNG issues

Opinion: John Horgan’s pending retirement provides an opportunity to challenge his compensation on environmental issues.

article content

VICTORY — As potential NDP leadership candidates decide whether to run, calls have already been made for the party to choose a “climate champion” to succeed Prime Minister John Horgan.

Announcement 2

article content

“Now is the time for progressives to get organized and elect a climate champion, who understands the crises we find ourselves in and will step up to guide us through the challenges in a way that meets the scale of the emergency and encourages to the people”. says Ashley Zarbatany, chair-elect of the party’s standing committee on the economy and environment.

“What should the new leader of the BC NDP do when he becomes prime minister?” he continued over the weekend to post on his Twitter account. “Declare a state of emergency and establish a climate secretariat in the prime minister’s office with a mandate for inter-ministerial action and a whole-of-government approach to address the crisis.”

Zarbatany did not suggest that she would appear alone. She, too, did not appoint anyone else to take up the cause.

Announcement 3

article content

But his posts, coming from an NDP climate activist, indicated that Horgan’s pending retirement provides an opportunity to challenge his compensation on environmental issues.

Zarbatany, in his call to action, said that the new leader should:

• “Protect all remaining primary forests. Ban fracking.

• “Provide a just transition for workers and communities outside of the oil and gas industry.

• “Respect the rights of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to say ‘no’ to the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their land.

All four calls are at odds with the positions Horgan has taken as prime minister.

• The NDP government has deferred the clearing of a considerable part of the province’s remaining ancient vegetation. But the government also referred First Nations to the fate of ancient vegetation within their traditional territories, in places like Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island.

Announcement 4

article content

• The NDP government tightened regulations on the use of fracking: injection of water and chemicals to release natural gas from shale rock. However, fracking remains the dominant process for most natural gas production in BC.

Far from phasing out natural gas production, the Horgan government approved the development of an LNG industry, based in Kitimat, on more favorable terms than those offered by BC’s previous Liberal government. Horgan also supports the construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) feeder pipeline for the Kitimat LNG terminal.

As prime minister, he was able to control domestic opposition to his positions on those issues. For the most part, that is.

However, at the NDP’s annual convention last December, critics managed to put forward a motion to side with opponents of the CGL pipeline, albeit indirectly. The motion cited accusations that the RCMP used “excessive force” in arresting protesters who opposed the construction of the pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory. He committed the BC NDP to “report the improper use of force in this or any other protest”.

ad 5

article content

Another passage noted how the NDP government’s review of the BC Police Act provided an opportunity to strengthen oversight of the RCMP, which is funded by the province.

“BC NDP will ask the provincial government to ensure that all alleged incidents of undue force by police are independently investigated,” the motion stated.

Adding his voice to the debate was Zarbatany. The same convention elected her to her current position as chair of the party’s standing committee on the economy and environment. She supported the criticism of the police, but she also stated on social media that the motion did not go far enough.

“This resolution fails to address the crux of this issue, which is that our government is not only guilty for its role in deploying RCMP resources for this raid, but has repeatedly violated the rights of the hereditary Wet’suwet’ leadership. in to say no. to pipelines in their non-ceded territories,” Zarbatany said.

ad 6

article content

He blamed the government for “hypocritically” enshrining the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a “time-stamped” law that exempted previously approved projects like Coastal GasLink from the obligation to obtain free, prior and consent. informed of indigenous peoples.

“Our government knows this,” Zarbatany continued, “but instead it has obfuscated its role, engaging in classic colonial divide-and-conquer tactics, spreading misinformation, and exploiting people’s vulnerable situations, causing it through of genocidal policies and chronic underfunding. ”

Not content with accusing the government of complicity, hypocrisy, obfuscation and promoting genocidal policies in dealing with indigenous peoples, she also criticized it for going after the “Christy Clark LNG pipeline”.

ad 7

article content

He accused party power brokers of blocking motions that would have added the LNG debate to the convention agenda.

“Members have tried to move the LNG debate forward for over two years, but have always blocked us,” Zarbatany wrote. “Now we are losing some of our best activists over this issue, alienating a whole generation of young people who trust us to tackle the climate emergency.”

Not a whole generation of young people: Many of them will have other concerns, from childcare to affordable housing to the cost of living to the health care crisis.

Still, some of the younger New Democrats, and older ones as well, will seek a less compromised stance than Horgan’s on environmental issues.

The leadership race provides an opportunity to raise issues like old growth and fracking and LNG that have been stifled at party conventions in recent years. It remains to be seen whether any candidate will seize the opportunity and how far they will go.

[email protected]

Announcement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment