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Canada election 2015: B.C. representatives weigh climate change versus the economy

08/03/2015 07:33 EDT | Updated 08/03/2016 05:59 EDT
Environmental issues — from liquefied natural gas development to climate change — are important to many British Columbians and should be a priority for candidates in this year's federal election, according to scientists.

"The word 'climate' should be front and centre in the campaign," says Thomas Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

"I think every Canadian should look at this election as a climate change election and ask, 'Who is going to address this serious challenge for humanity?'"

So, where do the parties stand on the environment? Here's what B.C. representatives from the four major parties told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Vancouver City Councillor and former Green Party candidate Adriane Carr: fighting climate change would benefit the economy.

"It's on everyone's minds, and the party that stands for real change on climate change is the Green Party. We've been advocating that. And if we'd have taken, as a country, the kind of advice from the Green Party — which was let's invest in renewable energy — our economy would be so much more solid. So, in terms of climate change, it's not just an environmental issue. It's an economic issue."

Former Conservative Party MP John Cummins: climate change is important, but what about the economy?

"Just look at the action that Ontario's taken — that so-called 'green energy' — and look at the economic condition of the province. We have to balance our concerns about climate change with economic growth because, at the end of the day, people need jobs. We need financing if we're going to move ahead on these climate change issues. We have to do it with care, and I think that that characterizes the agenda of the Conservative government."

Former NDP MP Libby Davies: "jobs versus economy" is a false dichotomy:

"It's sort of the oldest trick in the book. We do need to invest in renewable energy and infrastructure and things like public transit. So I think this will be a front and centre issue in B.C., and we can show that we can have an economy that protects and sustains our environment and doesn't pit jobs against the environment. That's the oldest game in B.C., and I think we have to leave that behind."

Former B.C. premier and Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh on the Liberals' plan to ban tanker traffic off the B.C. coast:

"Well, that's been the policy for a long time for the Liberal Party. The fact is, you can have economic growth, you can have a good environment. You need some leadership, and what [Liberal Party Leader Justin] Trudeau has said is that one of the first things he would do after becoming prime minister is get all of the premiers around the table to talk about some of these important issues, such as the environment. They're taking leadership because there's a vacuum nationally."

This interview was condensed and edited. To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: B.C. reps defend parties' records on climate change and more.

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