Sole B.C. NDP leadership candidate John Horgan says he’s received more mail about the Park Amendment Act than any other issue in the past six months.
Horgan noted that NDP MLAs voted against Bill 4, introduced by Environment Minister Mary Polak and passed on March 24, and attempted to have its implementation delayed by six months. The legislation changed the Park Act to allow the minister to issue permits for feasibility studies in provincial parks for pipelines, roads, transmission lines, telecommunications infrastructure, and other “prescribed” projects.
“Certainly, it would be something we would repeal should we form the government in 2017,” Horgan told the Georgia Straight today (April 11) at Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver.
Horgan was interviewed at a media event held to announce the endorsement of NDP MP Nathan Cullen of his leadership bid. NDP MP Fin Donnelly and MLAs Mable Elmore and George Heyman, who have also thrown their support behind Horgan, also attended.
Cullen, a former federal NDP leadership candidate, told reporters that Horgan and the B.C. NDP caucus have showed leadership in opposing Enbridge’s “bad” Northern Gateway pipeline project, which is under consideration by the federal government.
The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP asserted that the next federal election will be a “referendum” on Northern Gateway.
“Nothing will get built certainly before the 2015 election,” Cullen said. “So, Enbridge, federally, will be on the ballot across British Columbia.”
However, both Horgan and Cullen shot down the idea of holding a provincewide referendum on new tar-sands pipelines.
Cullen maintained that such a vote could infringe on aboriginal rights and title—as has been said of Kitimat’s Northern Gateway plebiscite on Saturday (April 12).
“I would rather not see a referendum take place on issues like this,” Horgan said. “We need science to direct us. We need the law and the rights and title of First Nations to be first and foremost. Government officials should look at science, look at rights, and then make decisions after that.”
According to Cullen, Canada can still become a “true energy superpower” while respecting the environment.
On the topic of marijuana, Horgan said it was “premature” to commit to decriminalization or holding a referendum on the issue.
Horgan noted he won the support of Sensible B.C. campaign director Dana Larsen in the last B.C. NDP leadership race and would “welcome” his endorsement this time around.
“I will be working with him to see what we can bring forward to help educate the people of British Columbia on the real issues around cannabis use—cannabis criminalization—and how it affects people’s lives far longer than it should and far longer than I believe is necessary,” Horgan said.
On Monday (April 14), the Vancouver park board is set to consider a motion, from Vision commissioner Niki Sharma, that calls for the municipal body to urge the B.C. Liberal government to reverse the Park Amendment Act.
An online petition calling for the legislation to be rescinded has been signed more than 160,000 times.