From an environmental standpoint, I am dismayed to see Tuesday morning’s polling projections for South Okanagan – West Kootenay. The 308 poll shows NDP 33.9 per cent, PC 32.4 per cent, Liberals 21.7 per cent and Green 11.4 per cent. I would like to reach out to Green Party and other environmentally conscious (green) voters.
Richard Cannings, NDP, is an honest and principled candidate with impeccably green credentials. He is a well known biologist with several books to his credit and a lifelong commitment to preserving the environment. He was a member of the B.C. Environmental Appeals Board and is now a director on the Nature Conservancy of Canada board. However, three days before the cut-off for nominations Samantha Troy was put forward as a Green Party candidate and now green votes are split between the Green and NDP parties.
Although the polls show the NDP is in the lead in our riding today, the PC candidate is close behind and he appears to have no green credentials. In line with Conservative policy he has mailed out misleading attack flyers but has missed opportunities to answer voters’ questions face to face in some all-candidate forums.
The Harper government has weakened, or rejected, every environmental initiative since it came into office. Internationally, Canada’s reputation for environmental responsibility is in tatters. Our country is now best known for its rejection of Kyoto and our patently false commitment to the Copenhagen carbon reduction targets for 2020. As other countries all know, our federal government has done nothing to reach those targets and cannot do so in the short time left.
It does not have to be this way. With no disrespect to Samantha Troy personally, the polls clearly show she cannot win the seat herself but she has taken some votes away from Richard Cannings. Likewise for Connie Denesiuk, another good candidate but one who, even with the Liberal surge under way, is much too far behind to win this constituency. Why on earth would we sabotage the only environmentally aware candidate who has a really good chance of beating the Conservatives? It’s not as if the NDP is weak on environmental affairs: its support for climate change initiatives, clean energy subsidies and pipeline environmental reviews is well known.
I am sure no committed environmentalist wants to see the Conservatives returned to power. I am not currently a member of any party but have registered my vote for Richard Cannings already. May I suggest Green Party and green Liberal voters swallow hard and do the same on Oct. 19? You can ensure the election of an environmentalist candidate, whatever the party label. If, as I hope, we end up with a Liberal/NDP/Green alliance in government, there is a very good chance the next general election will involve proportional representation. Elizabeth May could find herself leading a Green Party with 20 MPs next time round and more well-deserved influence to match.