BRIAN KIERAN: NDP’s Dix is singing the enviro-song

One of B.C.’s longest serving public servants, Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney, can see Adrian Dix surfing the leading edge...

One of B.C.’s longest serving and most respected public servants, Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney, can see NDP leader Adrian Dix surfing the leading edge of an orange electoral tsunami and the legendary Vancouver Island mayor is deeply troubled.

In fact, Furney is so worried that he has sent a three-page letter to every fellow mayor, municipal councillor and regional district director in the province asking them to pay attention to what is about to happen.

Furney — who’s been on the Port McNeill council for 44 years, 35 of them in the mayor’s chair — knows we don’t have a lot of choice in B.C. when it comes to political change. We endure change knowing we are condemned to suffer the consequences of our polarized political landscape. Recent polling tells us that more than 60 per cent of B.C. voters believe it is time for a different government; they are eager for, or resigned to, new leadership.

Furney’s letter states: “It is incumbent on us all to ensure that the (politicians) we elect are sincerely supportive of the jobs in our vulnerable resource industries. Regardless of political affiliation, each candidate should be asked a simple question: ‘Do you support the industries that are the backbone of our resource dependent economy?’

“The economy of our province is dependent on healthy resource industries … but public relations assaults on these resource sectors and the people that they support continue with multi-millions in financial help from U.S. foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.”

Furney says: “The big money pays for full-page advertisements in local, national and international newspapers … denigrating our industries, their workers and our local, provincial and national governments. A gullible public, especially in large cities, laps it up.”

Although he doesn’t come right out and say it, Furney is worried that an NDP administration in Victoria will pump fresh supplies of political oxygen into these environmental campaigns. Are those fears well founded? Of course they are.

Dix is already singing off the enviro-song sheet. Last week he reversed himself on the issue of the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline to Vancouver. He had initially promised to withhold judgment until the company had actually submitted an application to the National Energy Board. Now he has abandoned that “principled approach” and scuttled the project in a game of campaign catch-up with the Green Party.

He is also foreshadowing the death of this province’s experiment with small community-based energy projects such as run-of-river. He wants BC Hydro to review independent power project (IPP) contracts “to ensure British Columbians receive the best value for their dollars.” This move has very little to do with value for money and very much to do with a well-funded, pervasive campaign by unionized BC Hydro workers to protect jobs and turf. Right on cue, the NDP’s West Vancouver-Sea to Sky candidate Ana Santos, founder of the Squamish Climate Action Network, is denouncing the “gluttonous approach” the Liberals have taken with IPPs and she is suggesting a Dix-led government will question whether it needs this form of power at all.

In the months to come when we start to fully appreciate just what kind of change we have endorsed on May 14, we may want to remind ourselves of Mayor Furney’s eleventh hour appeal for political clarity on behalf of our resource-dependent communities. M

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