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Activist who 'quit' NDP was no longer a member

Environmentalist Tzeporah Berman made headlines this morning by renouncing the B.C. New Democratic Party. The Vancouver Sun reported that the “longtime NDP supporter” quit the party to protest its opposition to British Columbia’s first-in-North-America carbon tax.

But a top NDP official told The Tyee that Berman’s membership expired at least two full years before Premier Gordon Campbell’s government introduced the carbon tax, and well before the New Democrats launched their “Axe the Tax” campaign.

“She left several years ago,” said Gerry Scott, campaign co-manager for the BC NDP.

Scott said he could not release her membership records, but that Berman was a member for only “about a year.”

Berman told The Tyee she first joined the B.C. NDP in advance of the 2005 election in order to support the nomination campaigns of then-NDP-hopefuls Gregor Robertson and Claire Trevena. That membership would have expired by 2006, according to Scott.

B.C.’s carbon tax was introduced by then-Finance Minister Carole Taylor in February of 2008.

In an interview with The Tyee, Berman said she let her membership lapse "last year."

Nonetheless, Berman waited until this week to email NDP Leader Carole James, and write that the party’s climate policies have “more in common with George Bush’s Republican playbook than with those of us who supported you in 2005.”

“You have put politicking before the planet in the most hypocritical fashion,” Berman wrote in an email that was subsequently provided to local news media.

In speaking with The Tyee, Berman also disputed as “conspiracy theory,” emails and online comments suggesting that she is consulting with the B.C. Liberals.

“I never talk to them. I have no ties to the Liberal Party, anyone can see that,” she said.

When pressed about how a prominent environmentalist could have no contact with the governing party, she said she meant it in reference to the B.C. Liberals campaign.

The Tyee obtained a copy of an email Berman sent to a listserv group called the “BC Energy and Climate Leaders.” Berman wrote:

All check out page 48 of the full Liberal platform.

On that page appears a B.C. Liberal promise to appoint a Green Energy Advisory Task Force.

I just spoke with the Minister who said that given our concerns that we have been raising etc they have committed... to creating a new green energy advisory task force...

I think this is a great step and a result of our work. He is open to recommendations on who should sit on it but names will not be announced until after the election.

Berman’s email to the listserv, which appears to assume a B.C. Liberals victory, was sent on April 15 — the same day she emailed James to renounce the NDP.

The Tyee was unable to reach Berman a second time today, for comment on the listserv email.

Berman was a member of the Green Party of B.C. until 2004, according to an article published in The Vancouver Sun in December of that year.

She said she has not decided if she will endorse a candidate, or publicly announce who she will vote for. 

“I hope that anyone who cares about global warming will vote for climate leadership and I think that it’s very clear to me that the Liberal platform is going to do a lot more to reduce global warming [emissions] and help to create a clean energy sector than the NDP platform,” she said.

When asked why she would wait until the election campaign when the NDP’s carbon tax position has been known for some time, Berman said she has been meeting with people in the party and that it was only recently that she came to her decision.

“Everyone knew about the “axe the tax” campaign – that’s true.  But it was only in the last couple of weeks that I realized that it wasn’t just this one piece that they were going after.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.


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