Independent Delta South provincial-election candidate Vicki Huntington once liked independent power projects so much that she invested in one.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, the former five-term Delta councillor said she divested “a while ago” and has done an about-face. She likened the growth of run-of-river private power projects in B.C. to a gold rush.
“I’m opposed to them in the grand scale to which they are being developed and the numbers of streams without close environmental inspection,” Huntington said. “I would support a moratorium until clear standards are made that the officials in the Environment Ministry can judge any application against, even before it goes to an environmental assessment.”
Huntington is especially critical of the B.C. Liberal government for initiating this process and using legislation to strengthen the role of independent power at the expense of public power produced by B.C. Hydro. Her Liberal opponent in the May 12 election is B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, who was elected in Vancouver-Fraserview in 2005 but has since switched to run in the constituency in which he lives.
“I don’t think there should be a moratorium, but I think they obviously have to be dealt with with a view to protecting the environment and to protecting consumers,” Oppal said from Victoria. “It has to be done in a responsible way.”
Huntington maintains the B.C. Liberal government has been far from responsible in Delta since it came to power in 2001. She narrowly failed to defeat incumbent Liberal MLA Val Roddick in 2005 with the same message. Roddick is not seeking reelection in 2009.
“I would like to say that I support my government, but in some of these areas I believe they have moved almost to an oligarchy in their behaviour to protect industrial interests, even to the detriment of small business,” Huntington said. “They don’t even care about small business, which drives me crazy, because small business is”¦where the bulk of the people make their living.”
Huntington has taken out attack ads in the South Delta news media, citing a B.C. Liberal track record that includes the downgrading of services at Delta Hospital in their first term in office. She repeated her campaign question to the Straight: “Where was Wally when all this was happening to Delta?”
“When a lot of those fights took place, I was on the Supreme Court,” Oppal said, referring to the hospital battle. “South Delta residents have to decide whether they want a cabinet member representing them or an independent who will be some obscure member sitting somewhere in this building with no voice at all.”
According to the Elections B.C. Web site, a second independent, Graeme Drew, will run. NDP candidate Dileep Athaide, who garnered 5,639 votes in 2005 and 24 percent of the popular vote, is also back in the race.