B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon has let fly at NDP leader Carole James for “a revolutionary change” in her position on the Port Mann Bridge component of the provincial Gateway Program.
In a February 19 phone interview with the Georgia Straight from Victoria, James said she supports Falcon’s announcement that he will replace the Port Mann span with a “super-sized” 10-lane tolled span that will be funded through a public-private partnership.
“This is a revolutionary change in her position, because in 2007 she came out and said, ”˜Not this bridge, not this plan,’” Falcon told the Straight after a press conference today (February 26) in Burnaby. “So this is one of the most extraordinary backflips I’ve seen in politics. I want to commend you for pulling that out of her.”
When James spoke at the 2007 annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, two days before the arrival of former U.S. vice president Al Gore in Vancouver, she opposed Falcon’s original plan to twin the Port Mann Bridge.
At the time, she said, “If the objective is to reduce the traffic congestion that drives commuters crazy and reduce greenhouse gases that are ruining our planet, then transit, not blacktop, has to be the priority.”
In the interview, James denied that her tacit support for an upgraded Port Mann span meant she had changed her position since 2007. She stressed the importance of public transit repeatedly.
“The difference between our plan and their plan is that ours will include the transit option, ours will include affordability when it comes to transit, and ours will include making sure that the option is there so you don’t just move the congestion from one place to the next,” James told the Straight last week.
Falcon said he found that assertion “interesting”.
“She [James] apparently forgot to read the $14-billion transit plan that we laid out, which had one of the key pillars as the Evergreen Line,” Falcon said. “I have sat for two years and listened to Carole James and the NDP say this would never get done, just like I had to listen to them say for two years that the Canada Line would never get done. So as we deliver the Canada Line ahead of schedule and on-budget, and as we move this project forward—and it’s going to be on-schedule and on-budget—I imagine I’m going to hear the same thing from the NDP.”
Added Falcon: “They have never had a transit plan. I have never seen a transit plan come out of the NDP. We have laid ours out, it’s on our Web site and she obviously has not taken the time to look at it. If she does, I think she’ll be impressed.”
Falcon also claimed that part of the reason Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined him and Premier Gordon Campbell for the Evergreen announcement was because “he [Harper] recognized that we had a plan and we did our business-case evaluation”.
“That is why we are getting the dollars,” Falcon said.