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Farnworth, Horgan fill environmental gap in leadership race

NDP leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth became the second candidate to release an environmental platform yesterday.

Farnworth's platform promises include:

  • - Opening all existing IPP power purchasing agreements for public review, and a moratorium on all new IPPs.
  • - A “no net-loss” policy for the Agricultural Land Reserve in each region and an enhance Buy BC program and BC Food First policy to support local food production.
  • - The creation of a “blue belt” to protect wild salmon spawning and migration areas and a move to innovative closed containment aquaculture technology.
  • - Repeal of the Significant Projects Streamlining Act that strips decision-making from local governments.
  • - A shift of carbon tax revenue to transit and low-carbon green initiatives and inclusion of industrial emitters to pay the tax.

Last week NDP leadership candidate John Horgan released his environmental platform, which touched on many of the same topics. He also promised to continue lobbying for a federal moratorium on coastal tanker traffic and offshore oil and gas drilling.

Today, Horgan issued a press release promising to revive Buy BC, a local food labelling and marketing program which was promised in the Liberal's 2008 agriculture plan but has yet to be implemented. Liberal candidate George Abbott also promised to fund program if elected.

The Wilderness Committee supports the environmental platforms of both Farnworth and Hogan. "I thought they compared very favourably," said its policy director Gwen Barlee. "They're both comprehensive, they're talking about legislative changes, important movement on energy, retaining the carbon tax and moving on climate change in a significant way.

"They set a bar and we hope that other candidates will meet that bar. Because two weeks ago, discussion of the environment was missing in action, not only in the NDP leadership race but also definitely with the Liberal leadership race."

The NDP's environmental support suffered in the 2009 provincial election when then-leader Carole James took an anti-carbon tax position. That move alienated some environmental organizations that had traditionally been on side with NDP policies.

Barlee said she thinks these platforms will help heal that rift. "I think people are sort of saying 'show me the money'. They're looking for leadership on the environment, and I think the environmental community will act accordingly."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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