British Columbia

NDP tries to 'one-up' Greens on environmental policy

The B.C. NDP recruited four tough-talking members of the Climate Leadership Team — appointed by Christy Clark two years ago — to appear with party leader John Horgan at a news conference in Vancouver Monday morning.

4 members of Liberal Leader Christy Clark's Climate Leadership Team throw support to B.C. NDP

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan and Climate Leadership Team member Tzeporah Berman attend an event in downtown Vancouver on Monday. (CBC)

The B.C. NDP recruited four tough-talking members of the Climate Leadership Team — appointed by Christy Clark two years ago — to appear with party Leader John Horgan at a news conference in Vancouver Monday morning.

The members accuse the Liberal Party leader of using them to score political points during a massive climate summit in Paris in 2015.

They claim Clark forgot about their recommendations, which include increasing the carbon tax, as soon as she was finished smiling for the cameras in Europe.

"I am endorsing John Horgan and the B.C. NDP because I think it is a critical moment for British Columbia to get back on track and ensure climate leadership," said team member Tzeporah Berman.

"I think the most important thing is that we have a change in government and the NDP has a very strong climate and environment platform."

Berman was joined at the event by University of Victoria oceanography professor Tom Pedersen, Clean Energy Canada Executive Director Marran Smith and Simon Fraser University School of Public Policy professor Nancy Olewiler.

She says she isn't a partisan, pointing out that she once supported former Liberal leader Gordon Campbell over former NDP leader Carole James because she preferred Campbell's stance on environmental issues.

'She doesn't represent me'

Berman has been an outspoken critic of Clark in the past but she doesn't speak for her entire team.

At least four other members of Clark's panel have distanced themselves from Berman's comments.

UBC Sauder School of Business professor and team member James Tansey says Berman's views don't reflect his.

"I was surprised they felt the NDP's platform on climate change was a great leap forward," said UBC Sauder School of Business professor James Tansey.

"I haven't seen any evidence of that in their statements so far."

Tansey says he doesn't support the New Democrat stance on developing a liquefied natural gas industry in B.C.

"The other side of the LNG story is that expanding natural gas for energy generation is displacing coal in North America," he said.

"It's easy to attack the natural gas industry because it's in the cross hairs but without the expansion of natural gas North America-wide, we wouldn't have seen the decline in emissions that we've seen recently."

Green response

The New Democrats hope the support of Berman, Pedersen, Smith and Olewiler will damage the Liberals' credibility on environmental issues while attracting voters who are considering the Green Party.

Green leader Andrew Weaver doesn't think their plan is going to work.

"I've been involved at the very highest levels internationally of climate policy for my entire career," Weaver said.

"I think I defer to my judgement, in terms of expertise, over activists who have come to this lately."

Weaver accuses the team members who support the NDP of putting politics ahead of policy.

"I recognize why they're coming out and saying they want the NDP to win because they think the NDP has a better chance of forming government," Weaver said.

"It's unfortunate that they would become a little desperate to actually ensure that they're advocating for better than bad but instead of the best but that's the nature of politics."

When asked about Climate Leadership Team members she appointed now endorsing the NDP, Christy Clark said she did not ignore their recommendations.

"I would say we accepted a lot of the recommendations that they made," said Clark. "We did not accept the key recommendation in the minds of some in the environmental movement...which is that we double the carbon tax. 

"I think it would be disastrous for jobs in our province."