Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan stopped at Liberal candidate for the South Okanagan–West Kootenay Connie Denesiuk’s office on Monday as part of a campaign tour. (Robin Grant - Western News)

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan talks environment on campaign stop in South Okanagan

Economy and the environment must go hand in hand, says defence minister

He may be the defence minister, but Liberal candidate Harjit Sajjan said his party’s platform on the environment is the best way to address the complexity of balancing the environment and economy in Canada.

At a campaign stop at Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk’s Penticton office Monday, Sajjan said the Conservative party won’t have strict enough regulations when it comes to energy projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline. He said both the economy and the environment need to go hand in hand.

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“We have to move our resources to market. Right now, our resources are moving strictly to the U.S. at a lower cost but also the oil that is in Alberta is going to be moved increasingly by rail, which is very dangerous and at risk of accidents.”

That is why the federal government made what he called the “responsible decision” to twin the existing pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the B.C. coast, he said, adding that the Liberals would take every dollar earned from the pipeline and invest it in the environment.

The federal government needs to invest in the country’s transition to a greener economy, Sajjan said.

“It’s great to have aspirations but you need a plan. We have a plan that is working and we know we have a lot more work to do.”

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Denesiuk added that policies, like protecting 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans and land as well as planting two billion trees, are effective ways to help reduce emissions. Additionally, the carbon tax in B.C. has made the emissions go down 16 per cent in 10 years, she said.

“The important thing is the province has had a price on pollution for the last 10 years and while doing this they have actually had one of the strongest economies in Canada,” Sajjan added.

“Experts have also shown that price on pollution works. And when you look at working with the energy companies, they too are also looking at what can actually work. When it comes to certain parties denying the importance of climate or saying the rest of the world emits so they should do something. How is the rest of the world going to take you seriously if you don’t take action yourself.”

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