Former Gordon Campbell cabinet minister Joyce Murray pursues progressive federal Liberals

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      A former Gordon Campbell cabinet minister is staking out the left flank of the federal Liberal leadership race. This will come as a shock to many B.C. New Democrats, who've looked upon Campbell—particularly in his first term—as one of B.C.'s most right-wing premiers in modern history.

      His first minister of land, water, and air protection, Joyce Murray, lifted the moratorium on hunting grizzly bears, oversaw huge cutbacks in staffing levels for environmental protection, and gutted the Waste Management Act in favour of legislation that eliminated up to 80 percent of permitting.

      That's been conveniently left out of Murray's Wikipedia profile, which highlights her efforts to preserve Burns Bog and make companies responsible for recycling products.

      As the Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, Murray is espousing progressive positions that even the leader of the federal NDP, Thomas Mulcair, won't touch.

      In her federal Liberal leadership bid, Murray has called for legalizing marijuana and imposing a price on carbon, defending B.C.'s tax on CO2. Mulcair, meanwhile, has not endorsed a carbon tax, notwithstanding what Conservatives have claimed in their advertisements. And he has most certainly not proposed legalizing pot.

      She has also promised that if she becomes prime minister, she will ensure that women comprise at least 40 percent of the federal cabinet and 40 percent of all appointments to government boards, commissions, and agencies.

      More recently, Murray recommended a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls. And today, she declared she is joining the "Idle No More" campaign, which is a grassroots movement demanding fairer treatment for Natives.

      “The government has an appalling history of refusing to listen to or act upon the legitimate concerns of First Nations communities,” Murray said in a news release. “Since coming to office, the government has rammed through legislation on First Nations' financial reporting, matrimonial property on reserves, regulation of water and wastewater, various portions of the Indian Act, Aboriginal Fisheries, land management and environmental protection—all without consulting Aboriginal communities or allocating the necessary resources to implement the changes being imposed upon them. Why is it so difficult for this government to consult on policies and legislation that directly impacts on the rights of First Nations?”

      She also urged fellow Liberal leadership candidates to start talking about a new relationship with aboriginal people.

      This comes after a column on the site highlighted how Murray's chief competitors—MPs Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau, and former MP Martha Hall Findlay—have all taken fairly right-wing positions on key issues, leaving her as perhaps the only choice for progressive members of her party.

      The article noted that Trudeau supported the Chinese state-owned oil company's takeover of Nexen (while opposing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project) and condemned the long-gun registry; Garneau wants more foreign competition in telecommunications; and Findlay has called for an end to supply management, which props up dairy prices for farmers.

      Murray may be positioning herself as the most progressive candidate, but she will face a challenge in this regard from one of her lesser-known opponents: Deborah Coyne.

      The Ontario lawyer and mother of Pierre Trudeau's only daughter has staked out bold positions on retirement security, energy policy, and health care.

      "Universal health care is a fundamental component of Canadian citizenship—even a national symbol that draws us together," she writes on her website. "But medicare has become less a national program and more of an uneven patchwork of services, with unacceptable variations in quality and availability. National leadership is shrinking just when the demand for health care and the confusion over private delivery are growing. Collaboration led by Ottawa must develop national standards for coverage and bring practical improvements to a public service we all depend upon."

      Below, you can hear what Coyne has to say about addressing poverty and income inequality.


      In case you're wondering, Coyne is the cousin of National Post columnist Andrew Coyne and the niece of former Bank of Canada governor James Coyne. She played a leading role in killing the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional amendments, which would have weakened the authority of the federal government.




      Dec 20, 2012 at 9:44pm

      typical liberal, will promise anything to win votes.

      so glad the georgia straight is calling her out on the massive cutbacks to the environment ministry when she was the minister responsible.


      Dec 21, 2012 at 8:54am

      When I see Joyce Murray being the "lefty" in the Liberal contest I have to wonder just how neo-liberal have the federal Liberals become ? The worn out policies of the right wingers needs replacing not more of the same.

      Steller's Jay

      Dec 22, 2012 at 10:37am

      If she'd just wanted to win votes, she'd have joined Harper's gang, which as a former Campbell cabinet minister she could easily have done, and quite likely be a junior federal cabinet minister now. I don't know why the contradiction in her record, but she's now doing a **** of a lot more for the environment than either her critics or the NDP ever have.

      Prairie Lady

      Dec 27, 2012 at 9:43pm

      J. Murray only stayed one term with Campbell possibly for the very reasons of cuts. She was always environmental.

      Coyne and Murray are only 2 Liberal candidates taking progressive stances and Coyne has yet to win a seat.

      Frankly, too many Liberals are following Trudeau and Garneau --prosperity at all costs.