Greens focus on ‘smart growth’ 

Parties continue to prepare for federal election

The environment and issues such as sustainability and global warming are vital areas of concern for anyone who has a long-term interest in Whistler, and they are also why the Green Party of Canada has always had support here.

Last week the leader of the B.C. Green Party, Adriane Carr, and the Greens’ federal candidate for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding, Andrea Goldsmith, came to Whistler to try and grow some of that support ahead of the next federal election.

Carr and Goldsmith said they were travelling together because many of the "green" issues in federal and provincial politics are the same.

"The Green Party has a different approach; we have always preferred to co-operate on different levels of government because many of the big issues are the same," Carr said.

Goldsmith said her campaign for the coming election, which should be called later this year, would be based around the notion of a "smart growth" plan.

Goldsmith, who is also a counsellor in Gibsons, said a smart growth plan dealt with issues such as urban sprawl, sustainable energy and affordability.

"The smart growth concept includes ways to deal with urban sprawl and ways of keeping a community workable," Goldsmith said.

"A smart growth plan can really showcase sustainability… because the population is growing on the planet and if we’re all going to live here we have to reduce our consumption."

Goldsmith and Carr agreed that Whistler did a good job raising awareness about environmental issues but they were adamant more could be done.

"Why are we expanding the road up here instead of utilizing the train line?" Goldsmith said.

"Highway 99 is the deadliest highway in Canada not just because of the weather but also because people are usually tired and hungry when they come home from skiing.

"Why can’t we use trains when the rail line is right there?"

Goldsmith and Carr visited Whistler on a day where all the alpine lifts were closed due to high winds and this prompted Goldsmith to suggest wind power as an alternative power source.

"What’s wrong with wind power? When they shut down the lifts they could open the wind generators.

"Installing water meters in Whistler is another small thing that could be done."

Meantime, John Moonen, who is one of three candidates for the Liberal nomination in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding, also visited Whistler last week.

Moonen has worked in government relations for most of his life and knows more about the "game" than many politicians could ever hope to know.

He has an extremely relaxed style and was frank when asked about what the Liberals needed to do to oust incumbent MP John Reynolds.

"The first thing we’ve (the Liberal party) got to do is respond to the advertising scandal," Moonen said.

"But we’re doing that. (Prime Minister Paul) Martin has undertaken to get to the bottom of it and heads are rolling. I’m sure we’re going to see more people getting sued and possibly a few charges before the end of it.

"Once that’s finished I’m sure his (Martin’s) popularity will surge back up."

Moonen said he decided to become a politician because he wanted to be the decision-maker rather than the person influencing the decision-makers.

"I’m just tired of people making decisions for me," he said.

"(Conservative MP) John Reynolds is not a decision maker because his party is not in government.

"If you want to make a difference you’ve got to be part of the Liberal team.

"I just want to make an impact because I never worried about a lot of stuff until I had kids."

The Liberals in this riding will choose their candidate in early April. Moonen, Blair Wilson and Phil Boname are seeking the Liberal nomination.

Reynolds, meanwhile, was this week named Official Opposition House Leader by Stephen Harper. Harper became leader of the Conservative Party last weekend and promised to work "to unseat the tired and corrupt Paul Martin Liberals."

"Stephen won the leadership with a first-ballot victory at an exciting and historic convention," Reynolds said in a release. "I am looking forward to the upcoming federal election and to working with Stephen Harper, the leader of a strong and unified Conservative Party."

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