By Roy L Hales
Sue Moen is not willing to accept the status quo. She has a passion for change, for progress, for a re-balancing of society and society with nature. In the attached podcasts, the Green candidate for North Island explains what her party wants for BC & why it must be now.
What Her Party Wants For BC
I met her at Heriot Bay, on Quadra Island, last week.
In the podcast above, broadcast over Cortes community radio (CKTZ, 89.5 FM) on April 12, she describes the roots of her activism.
“Have you ever heard that old saying that somebody should do something about that? Well my mother and her father taught me that I was that somebody. I totally believe if I see an injustice, a wrong, a mistake … that I have the responsibility to do something about it,” she said.
“I tried the corporate sector, but that didn’t last very long. In one of my staff reviews, my supervisor said I laughed too lough and didn’t dress right. So I didn’t last long in the financial industry.”
She is a former Executive Director of “A Loviing Spoonfull,” a volunteer-driven society that provides free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in Greater Vancouver. She currently works with the homeless population of Campbell River. Now she is one of the 11 reasons (candidates) that the Greens have nudged ahead, in terms of decided and leaning voters, on Vancouver Island.
Why Should we vote for the Green Party?
I asked her, why should we vote for the Green party rather than the NDP?
“We are very quickly running out of time to change the status quo. I admire very things, in particularly those things that the NDP have borrowed from Green policy… There is a lot of very good people involved, but they have been in the game too long and our current system of politics ends up corrupting anyone who is involved.”
“The Green are willing to go beyond that. They’re willing to take the steps, on a number of issues, to face the crises that we face on the multiple crises facing us and our planet.”
Poverty In British Columbia Today
Though British Columbia is one of the nation’s wealthiest provinces, a recent report states it has the second highest poverty rating in Canada. More than 13% of the population live below the poverty line. Contrary to popular belief, most do not live on social assistance – they are either seniors, working poor or the children of working poor.
I zeroed in on one aspect and asked, “Do you find many people are being forced into homelessness?”
“I do think they are. We hear a lot about the Lower Mainland and the major cities, but we are seeing those effects right up the island into the North Island,” she replied.
Housing prices are being driven up by owners who look upon their properties as an investment rather than a home.
“Both pensions and income assistance are woefully inadequate to support people. The minute they share a place they lose part of their allowance. Even two people at $375, as a housing allowance – you can’t get a one bedroom for $750! There is n’t enough supportive housing. There isn’t enough outreach and programs and supportive programs to assist people to stay housed,” said Moen.
One of the main roles of government she sees “is to provide that income living happiness security so that people can let go of that visceral need to just hang on.”
BC’s Climate Plan
Last year the government of British Columbia asked a group of business, First Nations, community, academic and environmental leaders to draw up a climate action. According to climate team member Merran Smith, they “developed a package of pragmatic recommendations that balanced economic growth, job creation and affordability with measures to reduce carbon pollution to a level that would put B.C.’s 2050 target within reach.”
Premier Clark opted to water the climate plan down to the point that Smith says, “British Columbia’s carbon pollution will be as high 15 years from now as it is today. Even looking out to 2050, this plan would leave B.C.’s carbon pollution four times higher than its legislated 2050 target.”
Moen says the Green party is ready to adopt all of the BC Climate Team’s recomendations.
The Green Party’s Economic Plan
“The Green Party’s economic plan is investment in our people. (For example) industries that exist here and have sustained the North Island for a very long time. There are better ways of doing it, to make it more sustainable, so that there are jobs and there are forests and there are streams and there is the ocean. All healthy and all there for multiple uses,” says Moen .
She believes it is not necessary to pick one industry over another. For example, forestry does not need to be developed at the expense of ecotourism and agriculture.
“We get that the biggest obstacle to food security is access to farmland. We have a lot of really great farmland, but the people who want to be farmers cannot afford to be there. So we have to examine our farm tenure system. We have to stop other uses of farm land and we have to encourage farm workers, new farmers and the research and development to adopt our crops to climate change,” says Moen.
“We grow something like 30% of our produce and import 70%. Vancouver Island has something like 3 to 5 days worth of food on the store shelves.”
Much of our produce comes from California, which is why we have seen such wild price fluctuations recently.
So why are we putting some of the best agricultural land in Northern BC (at Site C) underwater?
“Only if we let it happen, it’s not too late to stop it. (The proposed Site C dam) … is a boondoggle. It’s stuck in someones mind for 40 years now? … So now we’re gonna make it happen regardless of the consequences, regardless of the cost, regardless of the rationality of it – there is none,” said Moen.
Treaty #8 gave local first nations the use of the land that this dam would flood. Moen described this project as another example of governments pushing aside aboriginal rights and title.
“The vast majority of BC is unceded territory, but I have yet to meet a first nations leader/elder/member who wants us to leave. Our First Nations seem quite willing, from the time we got here, to share. We, the settlers, have not shared with them. They deserve, and the Green party demands, that they get their equitable portion of the riches that are here in British Columbia,” says Moen.
“There have been several landmark Supreme Court cases in the last decade or so – starting with Sparrow, most recently Tsilhqot’in – that tell us very specifically that we’ve gotten it wrong for the past +150 years.”
“Getting it right does not mean asking, or telling, First Nations to govern themselves in the way that we have governed ourselves. It means honouring what treaties there are and speeding up the process so that there is certainty for First Nations, for us, and for anyone looking to invest for what we are doing in business or industry.
Are the Greens Still A Long Shot?
When I interviewed Moen, the Green party still looked like “a long shot.” She explained, “We all know that, but we’re also the best choice …“
A large number of voters apppear to agree with her. While their numbers have not yet grown to the point where it seems likely they will form the next government, the Greens are the only party that significantly increased their numbers over the past month. They gained six points province wide, while all the other parties lost 2 or 3.
According to Quito Maggi of Marketstreet Research, ” … All three parties seem to be doing well in different parts of the province. The NDP are seeing their strength come from the Greater Vancouver area, the Greens are leading the NDP on Vancouver Island by 1 percentage point, essentially leaving them tied given the margin of error, and the BC Liberals are doing best in the interior and north. If an election were held today the result would likely be a minority government.”