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BC Green leader praises Campbell's carbon tax

Provincial Green Party leader Jane Sterk praised the B.C. Liberals’ carbon tax in her party's first-ever speech to the UBCM.

Sterk used her short pre-lunch talk to highlight her party’s energy agenda, to stump for proportional representation, and to encourage a convention hall packed with hundreds of local politicians to consider running with the Green Party of B.C. in 2009.

“I do want to commend the B.C. Liberals for introducing the carbon tax and tax shifting, policies the provincial Green Party has been advocating since 2001,” Sterk told the UBCM audience, who only an hour earlier had listened to B.C. NDP leader Carole James calls to “axe” the carbon tax.

“While the Liberal policies are more modest than ours, and not as well planned as they might have been, an important step has been taken,” said the grandmother and town councillor.

Sterk, whose Green Party of B.C. claims 4,000 members, urged British Columbians to support the 2009 referendum question calling for a single transferable vote (BC-STV).

“In 2005, the B.C. Liberals got 46 per cent of the vote, the NDP 42 per cent, and the Green Party just over 9 per cent. Those votes translated into 46 seats for the Liberals, 33 for the NDP, and none for Greens,” Sterk said.

“If you want fairer elections in B.C., vote for BC-STV, and ask all your friends and family to do so as well.”

Sterk, a councillor in the Township of Esquimalt, ran unsuccessfully as a Green in the 2005 Provincial election and the 2004 Federal Election. She is an adjunct professor at University Canada West who has previously worked as a psychologist, as a public school teacher and has owned a retail business.

“Our energy policy is recommending establishing a new, focused Ministry of Energy to highlight the importance of shifting from a fossil fuel-based economy,” she told the UBCM audience. “We also redesigned B.C. Hydro into the B.C. Energy Authority, as a reflection of support and interest for a diversity of energy sources.”

She also recommended dividing provincial health authorities into smaller units that would be more responsive to local concerns, and said her party is “also proposing to add an expectation of corporate social and environmental responsibility through an amendment to the business corporations act of British Columbia.”

Sterk’s talk was added to the UBCM agenda yesterday, after the convention passed a motion from the floor calling on the municipal group to invite “leaders of provincial parties having received more than 5 per cent of the popular vote in a provincial election.”

The motion, which was introduced from the floor first thing Wednesday morning, was similar to a motion that failed at the 2007 UBCM convention. But the Greens have been building momentum within the province, and now lead the federal Liberals: According to a Harris-Decima poll released Wednesday, the Tories have 37-per-cent support in B.C., compared with 26 per cent for the NDP, 19 per cent for the Greens and 15 per cent for the Liberals.

Sterk ended her talk with an appeal to the room full of aspiring politicians.

“If you find your values consistent with the principles on which the Green Party is based... and you think you’d like to represent the Green Party in the May 2009 election, please grab my card.”

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Hook.

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