Laura-Leah Shaw: Oil tankers, animal cruelty, poverty a few reasons to vote Green
In Vancouver Quadra we are lucky to have spectacular natural beauty right on our doorstep. These days, however, when I walk along Spanish Banks and look out across the water, I am filled with concern. Since 2007, two tankers a week have been passing through our harbour carrying unrefined oil from Alberta’s tar sands—that’s up to three times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Like many of the decisions taken by “the Harper Government” (what’s wrong with calling it “the Government of Canada” anyway?) this one was made without any public discussion or notification. This terrifies me. Our government is making decisions that threaten the water and air all life depends on without even consulting us. An oil spill would destroy not only our marine and coastal environment; it would also have a serious negative effect on tourism and the film industry, both staples of our local economy.
The Green party is the only party with a serious, carefully considered plan to transition us away from our current dependence on environmentally destructive fossil fuels and towards a healthier, more environmentally sustainable future. Even the strongest proponents of Alberta’s tar sands understand that oil is not an infinite resource. At some point in the next century we will run out. Expanding the tar sands and making them an even more central part of our economy than they already are just doesn’t make sense from either an environmental or an economic point of view. I have children (and a newly born grandchild too) and the last thing I want is for their future to be saddled by the poor decisions we make today.
Another issue that I care deeply about is the issue of animal rights. To me there is no justification for animal cruelty in our modern world, when so many more humane options are available to us. The Green party is the only party to acknowledge the systematic and routine cruelty of our current food production systems and to demand changes to farming practices and to current laws that define animals as property and make it difficult to prosecute cases of abuse.
I am also extremely worried about the growing gap between the rich and the poor. For years, I have volunteered in the Downtown Eastside, distributing food, clothing, and blankets to some of Vancouver’s neediest citizens. I fully understand how many low-income earners are just one or two paycheques away from homelessness and dire poverty themselves. As the poor in our country struggle harder and harder to keep a roof over their heads, the rich are getting richer than ever. If we look at the period 1997-2007, under Liberal and Conservative governments, the richest one percent of Canadians received almost a third (32 percent) of all growth in incomes. In 2009, a study found that 3.8 percent of Canadian households control 67 percent of our country’s wealth. I firmly believe that our country’s economic growth should benefit all of its citizens, and not just those in the top income brackets. The Green party’s comprehensive economic plan is designed to benefit all of us. It believes in taxing things we don’t want—like waste and pollution, so we won’t have to tax things we do want—like our paycheques.
The voters of Vancouver Quadra are my neighbours and my friends. You are hard-working people with empathy and an environmental conscience. I know that many of you are feeling frustrated with politicians who waste endless time arguing instead of moving forward with policy solutions in areas of concern to all Canadians—health care, education, and the environment. It’s time for a new voice in Canadian politics. On May 2, I hope that you will consider casting your vote for a better tomorrow and electing me the MP for Vancouver Quadra. Neither left nor right, Greens look forward. It’s time, vote Green.
Laura-Leah Shaw is the Green candidate for Vancouver Quadra.