|Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on September 29, 2011 at 12:05 AM|
A critical issue in the coming election is the environment. Not a day passes when we are not reminded of the human impacts on the natural environment and the need to plan for our future and for the coming generations.
All levels of government need to work together with all sectors of society to create and implement a plan with the core values of preserving our natural environment. Manitobans need to have clean air and water, local and equitable food strategies, best-practice waste management to reduce our impact and secure publicly-owned power sources to move beyond the petroleum era. It’s everyone’s job but we especially need our Provincial government to provide visionary leadership.
We at the Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter have reviewed platform documents, election questionnaires, press releases, party track records and the All-Candidates Panel on the Environment.
The Green Party provides the most innovative ideas, but with little experience actually running a huge bureaucracy like a provincial government, their role can be best utilized as activists to push the mainstream parties and rally public opinion around excellent concepts like micro-energy generation, free public transit and a GMO-free agriculture in Manitoba.
The NDP have a working track record with many successes like its moratorium on hog production, commitment to rapid transit and the protection of the Boreal Forest through the Bi-pole III project. However, many critics, including the environmentalist community, would like more changes more aggressively sought.
The Liberals offer some substantial platform concepts such as phosphorous elimination, Kyoto targets and a green energy plan.
The Progressive Conservatives have not deemed the environment important enough to have a place in their platform. This is unacceptable and should be a major consideration for every voter considering a Conservative vote.
This coming Provincial election on October 4th, please choose your candidate and party wisely according to the practicality and commitment to their position on the environment.
The All-Candidates Panel on the Environment:
The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter attended the All-Candidates Panel on the Environment held on September 14th at the Unitarian Church on Wellington Crescent. The candidates present were James Beddome (Green Party), Paul Hesse (Liberal), Heather Stefanson (PC) and Jennifer Howard (NDP). The Council of Canadians prepared a score-card so that the audience could rank the candidates and party positions as well as provide their own comments. Here are some highlights of the positions presented, audience comments and scores.
James Beddome, Green Party, came in first place with the audience giving him an average score of 8.3 out of 10.
- Ban all agricultural land drainage and provide subsidies to farmers who will restore wetlands.
- Greenhouse gases significantly reduced by providing free bus service.
- Would focus on alternative energy production in Southern Manitoba instead of costly Northern hydro electricity projects.
- Introduce a provincial composting program, deposit on recyclables and would not permit the transport of nuclear waste through our Province.
- The Green Party’s approach to CETA is fair trade not free trade with an emphasis on local food production.
“The only speaker truly prepared. Has innovative ideas and knows the issues.”
"Had big dreams on most issues. Has very interesting arguments about farming and greenhouse gases."
Jennifer Howard, NDP, came in second place with an average score of 6.7 out of 10.
- The NDP has put in place regulations for “Protected Areas” and are committed to a more costly West side route for the Bipole project in order to protect the Boreal forest.
- Waste-management success of the tipping fees at the dump
- NDP 1987 High Level Radio-Active Waste Act indicating that transportation of nuclear waste through the Province would not be permitted.
- Committed to rapid-transit and 50/50 transit subsidy funding in municipalities.
- NDP is committed to the Canadian Wheat Board and to the Northern Manitoba greenhouse program.
- NDP is aware of CETA and its ramifications.
"Laid out the NDP position honestly - even when their success rate was less then targeted. The environment is not NDP's biggest priority - in the overall contest she did a good job of defending what had been done.”
"Apologist for a government of comfortable inaction."
Paul Hesse , Liberal, came in third place with an average score of 5.1 out of 10.
- Water management plan focused on retention and storage of water to deal with drought/flood patterns of climate change.
- Active transportation and rapid transit are on the Liberal plan and have long been a personal commitment of Hesse’s through his work with the Rapid Transit Coalition.
- Liberals are committed to a composting program, deposit for containers and will not allow the transporting of nuclear waste through the province.
- Liberals would commit to a ban on cosmetic pesticides
"Ok - So we know what the NDP did not do. What will you do?”
“Very focused on municipal issues.”
Heather Stefanson, Progressive Conservative, came in last place with an average score of 3.5 out of 10.
- The Conservatives will be releasing an environmental plan in the near future and therefore Stefanson could not comment on a plan for wetlands, nor for any waste management issues.
- Stefanson would not comment on what she referred to as a speculative question on the transportation of nuclear wastes through our province.
- The issue of greenhouse gas would be dealt with by a task force to maintain target.
- A Conservative Government would cancel the West-side Bipole III project and instead construct an East side route through the Boreal Forest. Stephanson asserted that an East route would not jeopardize UNESCO designation for this forest.
- The Federal Conservative and Manitoba Progressive Conservative parties are fully in support of the CETA and the concept of Free Trade in general.
“Most comments she made related to consulting and then determining best practice. As a party in opposition for 12 years the PC should already know what best practices would be! Spoke to philosophy of issues - no real details of what exactly does "support" and "encourage" mean."
"Talked more rhetoric than information...Too many references to press releases."
General audience comments on the panel:
“Glad to see two women and two men on panel.”
"Many answers were quite vague, development issues were skipped over, and education/ long-term initiatives seemed to take a backseat to short-term topics."
“Need electoral reform of ranked ballot to encourage vision and end the politics of fear.”
“Politics is not about knocking the other guy, but about making the best choices for our people.”
Event Video Coverage:
Watch video coverage of the event by Paul S. Graham
Synopsis of Party Platform Statements:
NDP is preventing hog manure from entering our waterways, expanding on clean hydro and wind energy, expanding protected areas including the Boreal Forest, requiring the City of Winnipeg to upgrade the North End sewage treatment plant.
The Liberals will introduce a green energy plan, support composting programs, save our lakes by reducing or eliminating phosphorous, protect the Boreal forest, create a plan to meet Kyoto targets with a focus on agriculture, transportation and energy efficiency, assist farmers to shift to organic production.
The Green Party will cancel Bipole III and shift to renewable energy with an emphasis on building a post-petroleum local economy, free public transit, no nuclear storage or transport in Manitoba, compost program, rebuilding wetlands and a GMO-free Manitoba. Included in their platform are sections on “Ecological Literacy” and “Protecting Living Systems.”
The Progressive Conservatives have a scant environmental platform. They have one press release outlining a brief plan to address Lake Winnipeg including a goal of reducing phosphorous inputs by 20% by the year 2020. This, coupled with the PC pro free-trade stance will severely restrict our local decision-making on how our natural resources are used and protected.
For additional information pertaining specifically to this coming election and party positions, please see the website of the non-profit group Manitoba Wildlands. Their six topical questionnaires (Lake Winnipeg, Licensing and Environment Act, Hydro and Energy, East Side Region, Protected Areas, Parks and World Heritage Site, Climate Change, Carbon and Emissions) include responses from all parties.
Contributor: Louise May - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Member
Categories: Voter Information