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Media Release

Sonia Furstenau presses Premier on wild salmon habitat protection

Today in the legislature my colleague, Sonia Furstenau, expanded upon our efforts in Question Period to pressure the BC Government to get open net fish farms out of the migratory paths of wild salmon. Below I reproduce her exchange with the Premier as well as our accompanying press release.


Video of Exchange



Media Release


Sonia Furstenau presses Premier on wild salmon habitat protection
For immediate release
October 17, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, pressed Premier Horgan on his government’s plans to protect wild salmon habitat in B.C. during question period today.

“Wild salmon are tremendously important to Northern and coastal communities, said Furstenau.

“Wild salmon in the Skeena River alone generate $110 million per year, and our sport fishing industry is produces revenues of $925 million and 8,400 direct jobs. But in 2009, the decline in the wild salmon run in the Fraser River was so severe it was classified as a catastrophic collapse. This year, salmon levels in the Fraser are approaching those same levels.

“Protecting our wild salmon stocks will require significant investment in habitat restoration. Will the Premier commit to meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau to advocate for the protection of our wild salmon stocks and to establish a joint provincial-federal strategy to phase out fish farms on migratory routes?”

The Premier responded that his government is committed to protecting B.C. wild salmon stocks, and that he will work with all levels of government and Indigenous leaders to ensure their protection.

As part of their role in opposition, the B.C. Green caucus members will continue to hold the government to account on its commitment to protect B.C.’s wild salmon, including its promise to phase out salmon farms along wild salmon migratory routes.

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Jillian Oliver
Press Secretary
BC Green caucus
c. 778-650-0597
o. 250-387-3094
e. jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca


Question


S. Furstenau: Wild salmon are tremendously important to coastal and northern communities. As the mayor of Smithers states: “It’s a wild salmon economy here.” The Skeena River alone generates up to $110 million per year, while sports fishing in B.C. produced revenues of $925 million, contributing $325 million to B.C.’s GDP and 8,400 direct jobs.

In a 2013 article, the MLA from Stikine valley, now the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Northern Development, was quoted, saying “wild salmon habitat deserves local, regional, provincial, national and global protection because there is nothing like it remaining in the world.”

My question is to the Premier. Saving B.C.’s wild salmon will require a massive investment in habitat restoration. Is your government prepared to make this investment, particularly given the crucial role that wild salmon plays in B.C.’s economy?


Answer


Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member for her question. We had some questions yesterday around salmon in British Columbia, and I’m delighted to focus on wild salmon, wild pacific salmon, which are the lifeblood of many communities, as the member said.

In my own community of Langford–Juan de Fuca, fishing in Sooke and Port Renfrew is a vital part of the economy that we see, certainly, during the summer. I had the good fortune of being on the San Juan River with the Pacheedaht First Nation to observe their food fishery, not seven days ago. The power of salmon is in all of us, and I think that every member of this House would agree.

With respect to the question about salmon restoration, certainly, upstream is the responsibility of the provincial government. We need to make sure that we are rehabilitating streams after logging practices — some good, some bad. But we also have to make sure that we’re working with partners.

The member for Skeena raised some questions yesterday with respect to Indigenous people and what their relationship is with salmon. We need to make sure the federal government is at the table with dollars to make sure that they’re meeting their obligations as well.

I’d also say that I think all members, if you’re not aware of the important salmon enhancement work that’s being done up and down the coast to bring more salmon into play, not just for food fishery, not just for commercial and sport fisheries but for orcas and other mammals that depend on the salmon….

I think that we can all do well, when the estimates for the member for Stikine and the minister responsible for Agriculture come up, to embrace and support the notion of salmon enhancement and making sure that we’re doing restoration in our streambeds.


Supplemental Question


S. Furstenau: In 2009, the Fraser River sockeye return was so low, it was regarded as a catastrophic collapse. The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was launched. Three years later it produced 75 recommendations on how we could restore and protect wild salmon. At the time, Justice Cohen stated: “salmon farms should not be permitted to operate unless it is clear they pose no more than a minimal risk to the Fraser River sockeye salmon.”

This year the Fraser River sockeye are returning at nearly the same catastrophically low levels as in 2009. We are in an emergency. My question is to the Premier.

I appreciate you recognizing the need to work with the federal government.

Will the Premier meet with Prime Minister Trudeau to actively advocate for B.C.’s wild salmon and establish a coordinated, provincial-federal strategy to responsibly phase out open-net fish farms on migratory routes?


Answer


Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member again for her question.

The Minister of Agriculture met with the Minister of Fisheries just last week to raise the issues of open-net-pen fish farms in migratory routes, which is counter to the recommendations of Cohen.

Cohen has been endorsed, I believe, by the members on the other side as well as the current federal government and the government of the day here in British Columbia. It’s my view that we need to make sure that we’re working with all of the stakeholders, as articulated by the member for Skeena yesterday.

This issue didn’t arrive yesterday. The member has given us an historical note back to 2009 and the beginning of the Cohen investigation. But we’ve had challenges with wild fish and the integration with Atlantics, or invasive species in the minds of some, for some 25 to 30 years.

This issue will not solved be overnight. But I commit to this member and all members of this House and all British Columbians that wild salmon are paramount on this side and, I believe, throughout this Legislature. I’m going to do my level best to work with every level of government and all Indigenous people to protect wild salmon.

My statement on government’s ridesharing (non) announcement

In response to today’s government announcement concerning ridesharing, I issued the media statement reproduced below.

I am very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ridesharing to British Columbians by the end of this year. As I note in my statement, the creative economy and innovation are the future of our province. We cannot be tech innovators if we’re not willing to embrace innovation.


Media Statement


Weaver statement on government’s ridesharing announcement
For immediate release
October 16, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, responded to the government’s announcement that it anticipates it will bring legislative changes to enable ridesharing in Fall 2018.

“I am very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ridesharing to British Columbians by the end of this year,” said Weaver.

“It has been five years since ridesharing was first introduced into B.C. There have since been reports that ridesharing companies are operating without proper oversight, regulation and insurance. Further, all three parties agreed to bring in ridesharing in the last election and have now had significant time to consult stakeholders and assess the various ramifications of regulating this industry in British Columbia.

“The creative economy and innovation are the future of our province. We cannot be tech innovators if we’re not willing to embrace innovation. As new technologies emerge, government should proactively examine the evidence and openly debate the issue in a timely manner so that we do not fall behind the curve.

“On Thursday, for the third time, I will introduce legislation that will enable ridesharing to finally operate in a regulated fashion in B.C. I hope both parties will take this opportunity to engage in a substantive debate on the details of this issue so that we can move past rhetoric and vague statements and finally get to work delivering for British Columbians.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Reintroducing a Bill to Protect British Columbia’s Farmland

Today in the legislature I introduced Bill M202 – Property Law Amendment Act, 2017. I had previously introduced this Bill in February, 2017 during the 6th sesison of the 40th parliament. Its purpose is to ensure that farmland in British Columbia is safeguarded from real estate speculation using foreign capital. In addition, it is important to ensure that British Columbia’s future food security is protected.

Below I reproduce the text and video of the introduction along with our accompanying media release.


Text of Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Property Law Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Mr. Speaker: Please proceed.

A. Weaver: I’m pleased to introduce a bill intituled the Property Law Amendment Act, 2017. This bill amends the existing Property Law Act to ensure that land held within the agricultural land reserve is protected from international real estate speculation. If passed, this bill would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over five acres without prior permission from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.

At UBCM last week, I met with communities in northern British Columbia. They emphasized the impact that the foreign purchase of ALR lands is having on local farmers, their local economies and our food security. For example, in Cariboo North, 42,000 acres have been bought by two foreign entities, with a total of 22,239 acres being removed from local agricultural production. This is affecting the local price of hay and pricing farmers out of the market.

Many other provinces regulate and restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land in this way, including Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Quebec and PEI. Our agricultural land reserve should have the same protection.

Mr. Speaker: The question is the first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: Now I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Motion approved.


Video of Introduction



Media Release


Andrew Weaver introduces bill to ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve land over five acres
For immediate release
October 5, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, reintroduced a bill that would ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land over five acres. Weaver first introduced the bill in February 2016.

“B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is vital for promoting our province’s food security and growing our agricultural sector,” said Weaver.

“Today I am reintroducing a bill that would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over five acres.

“B.C. currently imports 70% of its vegetables from the United States, with half of that coming from California. With these regions increasingly experiencing extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, it is more important than ever that B.C. take the future of our food security seriously. Moreover, agriculture presents a significant economic opportunity for B.C. Our thriving wine industry alone has a $2.8 billion economic impact, generating 12,000 jobs throughout the province.

“One of the key reasons why young people are unable to pursue farming is due to the cost of land. By allowing ALR land to be subject to international real estate speculation, we are limiting their opportunities to get into this vital, sustainable industry.

“Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and PEI have all passed similar legislation to protect their agricultural land. This leaves B.C. as the only western province without such a law. It’s time we took action on this important issue so that we can ensure that ALR land is used as it is intended – to offer opportunities to local communities across the province and to promote the overall food security of our province.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Statement on the Fair Wage Commission

Today the BC Government officially launched the Fair Wages Commission. Below is the statement that we released in support of the government’s announcement.


Media Statement


Weaver statement on the Fair Wages Commission
For immediate release
October 5, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party and spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, responded to the launch of the Fair Wages Commission today. The Fair Wages Commission was a B.C. Green platform commitment, and was negotiated into the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. NDP.

“I welcome the creation of a Fair Wages Commission that takes politics out of discussion around the minimum wage by establishing an arms-length body tasked with addressing the discrepancy between minimum and living wages,” Weaver said.

“Our economy is changing rapidly, creating new challenges for workers and businesses. It is imperative that we have this commission that will take into broader economic trends such as the rise of the gig economy, automation and the increasing prevalence of part-time and contract work. This commission will consult with business, labour and other experts and stakeholders to advise strategies so that we can work towards the ultimate goal of achieving liveable incomes for all British Columbians.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

BC Liberals vote against banning big money from BC politics

In what can only be described as a shocking lack of principles, the BC Liberals voted against sending Bill 3 – Election Amendment Act, 2017 to committee stage after it had passed second reading.

I spent most of this week listening to BC Liberal speaker after speaker proclaim how they liked most aspects of the bill but that they had issues with a number of sections. Speaker after speaker talked about potential amendments to the Bill that might help make it better. In fact Rich Coleman, the Leader of the Official Opposition cynically stated:

R. Coleman: Well, we will, actually. It’s interesting you say that. I can tell you what’s not going to happen. There will be an amendment in committee stage, but I can tell you what’s not going to happen when the division call comes. You’re not voting for the amendment. You’re not voting for the amendment because you want the dough. You’re gonna take the dough. That’s what you want.”

After the bill passed second reading, the Liberals then proceeded to vote against sending it to committee thereby saying they just wanted to kill it rather than amend it. I have never seen such a vote in the 4  1/2 years since I got elected.

Needless to say, the BC Liberals have abdicated their responsibility to offer practical solutions to improving the bill. As such, any future amendments to this bill that they might propose will be treated as nothing more than a cynical political ploy.

Below is the media statement my office issued this morning.


Media Release


Weaver statement on B.C. Liberals voting against banning big money
For immediate release
October 5, 2017

 

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver issued the following statement in response to the B.C. Liberal caucus voting against a bill that would ban big money. The Liberals voted against sending the bill to committee stage after it had already passed second reading. Votes on particular aspects of the bill that could be resolved by amendments are done at the committee stage of the bill.

“I am extremely disappointed that the entire Liberal caucus voted against this bill that would finally exorcise the corrosive influence of big money from our political system,” Weaver said.

“With this vote, the Liberals have indicated that they are against the core principle that we need to shift political influence away from special interests towards people. For 16 years the BC Liberals were content to personally profit from maintaining the weakest campaign finance laws in the country. Now with an opportunity to make B.C. a leader in electoral finance and put the public interest first, they choose to side with a system that gives special interests too much influence.

“The Liberals’ actions last night demonstrate precisely what is broken in B.C. politics. Instead of debating the individual aspects of the bill based on substance, the Liberals have chosen yet again to play political games. By voting to not send this bill to committee, the Liberals are saying that they are not willing to consider improving this bill. The broken two-party system in this province has led to divisive, obstructionist politics where the pressing issues facing British Columbians are devolved into sloganeering and reactionary partisan grandstanding.

“The people of British Columbia deserve better from their elected officials. Now, with three parties in the legislature and a minority government, we have an opportunity to deliver a different kind of politics – one that focuses on evidence, principles and substantive debate. It is clear that the official opposition is intent on ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

“They are desperately clinging onto an outdated sort of politics that places party and power above principles and policy. B.C. is at a crossroads – we can go down the path of the United States where big money and an entrenched two-party system has led to chaos and the degradation of democratic norms, or we can join the 33 out of 34 OECD countries in removing the undue influence of big money from our political system. I hope that as this bill moves through committee, all 87 MLAs sincerely consider the type of future we want for our province and make their decisions based on their conscience in this vital matter.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca