British Columbia

B.C. Green Party leader calls on environment minister to resign

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver is calling on Environment Minister Mary Polak to resign immediately. Weaver said British Columbians have had to go to court too often to fight the government over environmental disasters.

Andrew Weaver says Mary Polak has failed to protect the environment

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (left) calls for the resignation of B.C.'s Environment Minister alongside Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau. (Richard Zussman/CBC News)

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver is calling on Environment Minister Mary Polak to resign immediately.

Weaver said British Columbians have ended up going to court too often to fight the government over environmental issues, like the Mt. Polley mine and the Shawnigan contaminated soil facility. He said it's likely that will happen again with the Bella Bella diesel spill.

"I do not call for this lightly. I have spent my career in the climate science field advising provincial, federal and international governments on their climate policies. Never in my life have I witnessed a government using such outrageous rhetoric to describe sub-par efforts to protect the environment," said Weaver.

"This government's policy continues to put vested and private interests ahead of the responsibilities they have to the people of British Columbia."

In his more than three years as an MLA, Weaver has never asked for the resignation of a minister, even though he has disagreed with many of them. The Green Party leader said the province also lacks a "real climate policy."

"I am calling for her to be replaced by a minister who will stand up for the people of B.C. and the water and environment that we all rely on," he added.

The Green Party candidate for the riding of Cowichan Valley, Sonia Furstenau, joined Weaver in calling for Polak's resignation. Furstenau said her community has spent millions of dollars fighting against the contaminated soil facility near Shawnigan Lake. 

"When you look at Mary Polak's mandate letter from the premier there is nothing in there about protecting water and that is a real failure in policy and we are seeing it play out in real time in Shawnigan," said Furstenau. 

'Far ahead of the rest of Canada'

In a statement in response to Weaver's call for her resignation, the minister said her government's work to protect the environment has been extensive. 

"Whether overhauling the century-old water act, launching a first ever provincial spill response plan, legislating emissions limits on LNG facilities or maintaining the highest and broadest carbon price in North America, British Columbia is far ahead of the rest of Canada," said Polak. 

In August the province released its climate action plan with a commitment to decrease the province's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 megatonnes every year. 

But the province did not increase the current carbon tax that is set at $30 per tonne. At the time, Polak said there were serious concerns about how a higher carbon tax would affect the economy.

"There really is no accurate economic modelling out there to tell us what that does in an environment where no one else is doing it," she explained.