The federal Liberals used Wellington Point Park in Ladner as the backdrop for a campaign promise regarding the environment Monday morning.
Delta Liberal candidate Carla Qualtrough was joined by North Vancouver Liberal candidate Jonathan Wilkinson, Richmond Centre Liberal candidate Wilson Miao and South Surrey-White Rock Liberal candidate Gordie Hogg to announce a pledge for Canada to ban the export of thermal coal.
Saying the Stephen Harper Conservatives “effectively buried their heads in the sand” when it came to climate change, as well as taking shots at Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, Wilkinson noted his government over the past few years has developed a real plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions including the carbon tax, incentives to purchase electric vehicles as well as investing in green infrastructure.
Also commending a series of measures announced by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Wilkinson said his government is also committed to the phasing out of the use of coal as well as the export of thermal coal, both from Canada as well as U.S. thermal coal that goes through this country, no later than 2030.
“With so many affordable and cleaner options available, the use of coal to produce electricity simply must come to an end, and we must show leadership both domestically and internationally. I know here locally this is an important issue given the amount of coal that moves through Delta,” said Wilkinson, who served as the most recent federal environment minister.
Qualtrough said the communities of Delta and Surrey are highly concerned about their environment and want continued bold action by government.
“The issue of the production and transportation and export of thermal, or dirty coal, is very alive in Delta and South Surrey…we are committed to phasing out the production of thermal coal in Canada by 2030 and Canada is a co-founder of International Powering Past Coal Alliance. Ending thermal coal production is necessary,” said Qualtrough. “Showing international leadership is necessary, but, very quickly, the question turns to why are we still exporting thermal coal from Canada, why are we still shipping it overseas.”
She added trainloads of thermal coal from the U.S. come through South Surrey and Delta for export overseas, which is a big concern for residents.
“While efforts are made to keep the coal wet and coal dust levels low, our communities are worried about the impact from the quality of the air that our children breathe,” she said. “The people of Delta and Surrey want us to ban the export of thermal coal from and through Canada. They see this as the next step.”
Asked by the Optimist if Westshore Terminals in South Delta had been informed of the ban plan, Wilkinson responded it’s a campaign promise at this point, but they will work with the coal exporter and others to see how it gets done.
“It may well be that that the export of American coal is dealt with a little bit differently than the production of coal from mines in Canada. We need to work through that with stakeholders and Westshore is certainly one of those,” explained Wilkinson.The federal election is set for Sept. 20.