Opinion

'The Environment Is the Economy': MP Weston

Conservative says columnist Mair 'denigrates the role of the individual MP.'

By John Weston 1 Oct 2014 | TheTyee.ca

John Weston is the Conservative MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

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Conservative MP John Weston: 'We need to ensure... plenty of opportunity for effective public engagement.'

In his usual way, Rafe Mair can at least claim to draw attention with his powerful words expounded Sept. 15 in The Tyee ("Mulroney Knocks Harper? Oh This Is Rich"). However, he consistently makes two mistakes. He diminishes the role of process in all that we do, and as a former legislator himself, denigrates the role of the individual MP.

In terms of process, you can ask how we come to live in the best place in the world. One easy answer is the natural beauty around us, and yes, we may be entitled to call it "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth." You may instead look to the people around us, engaging, tolerant, educated, enterprising.

But don't forget the importance of democratic processes. For instance, West Vancouver council recently decided to revisit its vote on banning LNG tankers in Howe Sound. I applaud council's ability to pause, reflect, take into account the proponent's views and acknowledge the importance of giving a hearing to the proponent. As it happens, no West Van councillor changed his or her position on the preceding motion so its position stood, that LNG tankers should be banned. Agree or disagree with the conclusion, West Van council demonstrated a clear commitment to fair process, something Canadians expect of their elected officials.

'Inter-related and intertwined'

As Rafe pointed out, as an MP, I am increasingly required to consider the impact of industrial projects on our economy and environment.

Throughout the summer, conversations at backyard barbecues and coffee gatherings often related to responsible resource development. "The environment IS the economy," is the message I am increasingly taking to cabinet and other leaders.

Why do people favour responsible resource development? Canadians increasingly realize that corporations, communities, institutions and governments have to be more effective, more productive and less wasteful. They need continuously to improve their impact in the four arenas of social, environmental, aboriginal and economic development.

In reviewing such things, we need to ensure the integrity of independent, science-based processes, with plenty of opportunity for effective public engagement.

With focus on "continuous improvement," value-added jobs result. This is key to a sustainable world. It doesn't mean we say "STOP" but it does mean we have a responsibility continuously to improve. Peer-reviewed data and community input are essential to see the PROCESS upheld.

It's why I say the "environment IS the economy." Our quality of life, economy and the environment are interrelated and intertwined.

If a project respects the factors just mentioned, I am likely to support it. Otherwise, I will not support it. You may recall I did not support the cell tower initiative proposed last year for West Vancouver, for instance.

A high level of public engagement -- that's what I witnessed all summer long in the area where we live, "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth." I commend the work of my constituents willing to go out of their way to see more than just their initial position.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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