'What kind of lunatic thinks we need an LNG plant in Howe Sound?'

Green Party leader Elizabeth May woos Squamish crowd with vision of sustainable future

The Green Party leader of Canada made it clear that she would do everything in her power to kibosh the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Howe Sound.

On Saturday (Oct. 3), Elizabeth May visited Squamish to attend what was advertised as a Defend Our Coast Rally against the proposed Woodfibre LNG facility. The Green Party banners and free handouts at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park made it clear the event also doubled as a Green Party supporters assembly, the star of the show being May.

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After bolstering the party's West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country federal candidate Ken Melamed and assuring participants that a tick for Green is not splitting the vote, May hit on the fossil fuel sector.

"What kind of cockamamie scheme, what kind of lunatic thinks we need an LNG plant in Howe Sound?" she asked, which brought loud applause.

Investing in fossil fuels is increasingly being seen as a “bad risk” by the international community, May said; while the rest of the world is starting to reject fossil fuels, Canada keeps subsidizing its oil and gas industries. Fracking for natural gas has the same carbon footprint as the use of coal, May said. She added she wants Canada to follow Europe's lead and create strict exclusion zones – safety buffers – between LNG facilities, tankers and inhabited areas.

Instead of pouring money into a soon to be out-of-date industry, May said she'd like to see Canada invest in sustainable fields. May wants to beef up the country's electricity grid from west to east so that B.C. can sell more of its power to provinces like Alberta.

May said the Green Party strives to create a sustainable economy that doesn't threaten human existence. With the Royal Hudson steam engine as her backdrop as she spoke at the railway museum, May said one day, she hopes to stand in a museum that features combustion engines and fossil fuel exhibits as things of the past.

"The fossil fuel era will not end because we run out of fossil fuels, but because we find something better," she said.

The crowd included both young and old. Senior citizen June Gracie said she attended because she was interested to see what May and Melamed had to say. She had not yet decided on how she was going to vote in the federal election on Oct. 19.

"I tend to make up my mind with the candidates," she said.

While the event had a focus on the proposed Woodfibre project, Gracie said a 'no' or 'yes' stance on the project would not sway her final decision.

Although she can't vote in this election, 17-year-old Kaija Lewis-Belle sentiment concurred with Gracie. Lewis-Belle said the candidates' Woodfibre position would not be the determining factor in her vote. However, Lewis-Belle said LNG plays into an important part of a bigger issue: climate change. Her generation grew up with the Internet and a constant stream of information around climate change, she noted, so it’s a significant topic for her age group.

"I think it is more important among people who are younger," Lewis-Belle said.

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