NDP plans on capturing ‘green’ vote in federal election 

The New Democrats have made their intentions clear in the yet-to-be-called federal election: they want the "green" vote.

The NDP released a document last week outlining what the party’s focus would be during the next federal election, and the document is so "green" it might be mistaken for the Green Party platform.

The NDP’s slogan for the next election will be "New Energy. A Positive Choice", which further reinforces how important green issues are becoming in mainstream politics.

The document, which was endorsed by NDP leader Jack Layton, says the "centrepiece of the NDP’s environmental platform is a real plan to create jobs with renewable energy, and meet Canada’s Kyoto commitments on climate change".

Some other major points include:

• Leveraging all the government’s interest in Petro-Canada to create a new Crown corporation for renewable energy, with innovation centres in solar, tidal, wind and geothermal energy across the country, located close to fossil fuel centres.

• Phasing in tax changes to wean Canada away from its dependency on fossil and nuclear energy and moving aggressively towards a new, green energy future.

• Creating a federal department of water stewardship to develop common standards, and to implement a ban on the bulk export of water.

• Overhauling the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to reverse its current focus on voluntary action, and replace it with mandatory pollution prevention.

• Passing a true endangered species law that protects species’ habitat and gives scientists, not politicians, the power to determine whether a species is at risk.

The NDP’s candidate in the West Vancouver Sunshine Coast riding, Nicholas Simons, said it was "fair" to suggest that the NDP was attempting to undercut the Green Party.

"But the reality of it is that we’re not making an attempt to undercut anybody because the NDP has always had a strong environmental platform," Simons said.

"There has been a lot of people coming over from the Green Party to the NDP so in some ways this platform reflects that."

Simons said the document was essentially a record of the party’s commitment to finding alternative energy sources.

"The way I look at it is that we have to start making investments and pursuing alternative energy sources now," he said.

"It’s important to realize also that a green economy can mean job creation rather than job cuts and there are ways the Liberal government could have made stronger inroads with this but they have chosen to neglect it."

The Green Party candidate in the West Vancouver Sunshine Coast riding, Andrea Goldsmith, said she was flattered that the NDP had chosen such a green approach to the next election.

"It’s really good to see other parties following the lead of the Green Party," Goldsmith said.

"I don’t want to criticize because in a lot of ways it’s good to see they’re saying the same things.

"What I don’t see the NDP doing is changing the way we live so we don’t need to throw money at solutions.

"The Green Party wants to focus more on the causes and changing lifestyles to fix that."

Goldsmith said it was obvious the NDP was going after the big "G" and small "G" green votes but she questioned whether the NDP would have the basic understanding and expertise to make good on their promises.

"The Green Party values don’t change on political whims. It’s not just about shifting policies it’s about recognizing core values which are the basis of a sustainable society.

"The Green party has been promoting many of these things for 20 years."

Goldsmith said the Green Party had finished writing its platform for the next federal election and would be releasing it "soon".

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