We finally met with our last federal election candidate, who also happens to be the current MP for the Howe Sound region—Conservative John Weston. As with our other meetings, we showed John our Declaration with over 2200 signees. If you haven't already, please sign and share it.
For more about the format of our candidate discussions, see our first meeting with Green Party candidate Ken Melamed. Also read our conversations with NDP candidate Larry Koopman and Liberal, Pam Goldsmith-Jones.
It's been enlightening speaking with all the candidates and we thank them sincerely for their time. Soon, we'll summarize all the candidate's opinions on Woodfibre LNG in one handy-dandy report card and share it with everyone. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and email for more on that.
But first, we put summarized a few questions that we put to John, and his answers. Remember these questions were submitted by citizens through our LNG survey.
Citizen Question 1: Why aren't we putting as much emphasis on sustainable energy compared with highly polluting fossil fuels?
John: Well, that's a great question. And you'll hear my opponents say that they don't want us to rely on fossil fuels, but, I think it's important for people to understand that natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, is one of the most efficient clean burning resources that we have. I believe in continuous improvement, that we should be continually improving our stewardship of the environment and our efficiency in the economy. In the case of natural gas, there is a new technology that is driven by natural gas, called combined heat and power. Relying on natural gas, we can replace the cooling and heating systems in our buildings and scientists believe that a conversion to this technology will enable us to reduce our energy related to production of electricity by 80%. So that's an exciting step forward in the whole milieu of continuous improvement. This is the same energy that we have flowing in the infrastructure under our streets. We have a supply of this in British Columbia that we exported for 60 years safely and efficiently. So, while we explore other forms of energy, this is an excellent way to show the environment is the economy. That we are using a resource in a very efficient way. Meanwhile, I see my opponents suggesting the environment and the economy are in conflict. They'll often use the word "balance, we have to keep them in balance," which suggests one has to sacrifice, while the other makes progress. I believe they're intertwined and that the environment has been a change agent that has driven so much improvement in how we conduct our business practices. We use less and less water, land, energy and other resources. We're being good stewards of the environment and we're increasing our productivity. What may surprise people is the number of people who owe their jobs to the environment of Canada. According to Eco Canada in 2013, 730,000 people who work in jobs where 50% or more of their work relates to the environment. So we're producing a culture, where the focus of the environment has driven this notion, which I call the "Environment is the Economy."
Citizen Question 2: What personal accountability will you be prepared to provide in the event the fails in any way?
John: Well, I get back to my belief in value added projects, projects which can create jobs and streams of revenue for private sector and tax revenues that supply our needs for education and health and social services that we need independent science based objectives, stringent processes that are designed to create good results. Unlike my opponents, I don't believe politicians should be responsible directly for these decisions, but they should be relying on those processes. All we can do is ensure we have the best processes in the world. World class processes to impose the best conditions that we can and that relates to all these value-added projects that we're seeing, which are able to keep us moving forward as the most enviable place in the world to live. Which I call the most beautiful place on earth.
Citizen Question 3: Do you feel there is social licence for this project to proceed, and what evidence is there for that?
John: I think the licence to proceed comes from the very stringent kinds of conditions that are imposed on any proponent who seeks to create a value-added project in our province. The conditions are indeed onorous and to meet them, whatever they may be, because we haven't seen the result of the environmental assessment process relating to Woodfibre LNG. But I would anticipate that those conditions will be very onerous and will reflect the concerns people have raised in the public hearings and the public square. The kinds of concerns which I have relayed to our cabinet members, which I think more importantly will be taken into account by the independent, objective, science-based, stringent, environmental assessment process.