Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"Shut down the tar sands," NDP candidate urges

Shut down the oilsands, NDP candidate urges
Tim Lai, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

VANCOUVER - Saying climate change may result in his two sons never seeing polar bears in the wild, a star NDP candidate from British Columbia called Thursday for the shutdown of Alberta's tarsands.

"We have to do something to address the climate change crisis, we need to do so now," said Michael Byers, the New Democrat hopeful in the key battleground riding of Vancouver Centre.

"We need to go after the big polluters, we need to shut the tarsands down."

Byers' bold statement came toward the end of debate between Vancouver Centre candidates at a University of B.C. School of Journalism event.

All candidates were asked what kind of animal they would want to be. Byers' answer, was a polar bear. And his suggestion the tarsands should be gradually shut down to save the animal surprised even his opponents, since it seemed to go against his party's platform.

"That's a headline," Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry said after the debate. "It's quite a statement."

Conservative candidate Lorne Mayencourt said shutting down the tarsands is unrealistic and that Byers' statement would not help the NDP court voters in Alberta.

Green candidate Adriane Carr said she was shocked.

"I thought, 'He hasn't checked with Jack,'" said Carr. "Maybe Mr. Byers is running for the wrong party."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said early in the campaign, his party would introduce a moratorium on expansion of the tarsands, something Byers also supports, but Layton did not call for existing projects to be shut down.

In an interview later Thursday, Byers said he did not deviate from the NDP platform and that his comments were in the context of a private member's bill introduced by Layton and passed by the House of Commons, calling on the government to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

"All three opposition parties are committed to a result that would mathematically entail the shutting down of the tarsands," Byers said.

In Quebec, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion called Byers' recommendation "a foolish declaration."

"We are taxing their emissions," Dion said. "At this very moment, the petroleum industry will have to invest to clean up the mess."

Byers' call follows a spate of unexpected and embarrassing revelations about other NDP candidates in recent days.

Last week, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast NDP candidate Dana Larsen resigned after a YouTube video surfaced showing him driving while apparently high on drugs. Vancouver-Quadra hopeful Kirk Tousaw stepped down after videos appeared showing him smoking marijuana. Saanich-Gulf Islands candidate Julian West resigned after a skinny-dipping incident 12 years ago in which he allegedly dropped his trunks and asked teenagers to paint his body.


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