Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Green Party of Canada candidate David Merner and Green Party leader Elizabeth May answer questions at a town hall at the Metchosin Golf and Country Club. It is one stop on May’s cross-country Community Matters Tour. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Fracking, economy, climate at centre of Green Party town hall in Metchosin

Green Party leader Elizabeth May and local candidate David Merner take questions from community

About one hundred community members gathered at the Metchosin Golf and Country Club Friday evening for a town hall with Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Green Party of Canada candidate David Merner.

May, who had just finished a marathon of voting on the federal government’s spending plans in Ottawa was full of energy as she and Merner took questions about the first-past-the-post system, jobs, single-use plastics, a budget and how to get youth involved in the upcoming federal election.

The town hall was May’s 20th stop on her cross-country Community Matters Tour and she said she believes the upcoming election will be one of change.

“It is a real opportunity to vote for what you want,” May said. “I want a minority parliament with enough Greens elected to make sure everybody will behave.”

READ MORE: Elizabeth May predicts she won’t stand alone after the next election

Merner, who ran as a Liberal Party of Canada candidate in the 2015 election, has switched over to the Green Party and said he did so because of broken promises when it came to things like electoral reform and the environment.

“We really are facing a climate crisis right now and some of the promises that the Liberals made in 2015 were right on the money like cutting fossil fuel subsidies and doing a thorough review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Merner said. “But then once the Liberals got into office these promises started getting broken.”

Merner, who said he has been knocking on doors in his riding since December, said common concerns he is noticing among residents are related to climate action.

“(Climate action) is urgent and they can see it…especially younger people who are worried about the future and families with kids,” Merner said. “There’s certainly this wave, momentum, you can really feel it on the doorsteps.”

Concerns about fracking and liquefied natural gas (LNG) were also echoed by residents in the town hall, with one community member asking May and Merner what the Green Party’s stance is on fracking.

READ MORE: 16,000 signatures supporting a ban on fracking delivered to B.C. legislature

Fracking is the process in which large amounts of a high-pressure water, mud and chemical mixture is directed at rock deep within the earth to release the gas inside. That gas can then be liquified for export.

“Fracking is dangerous to local water supplies, fracking causes earthquakes,” May said. “The chemicals that are used in the water for fracking are uknown to Environment Canada and are unregulated…there is no climate benefit for us shipping LNG from fracked gas to anywhere.”

May called for a “national moratorium on fracking” which brought out whistles and cheers from the crowd at the town hall.

When asked what would happen to jobs that are lost if LNG projects are shut down, May said the jobs will be replaced with the building of green initiatives like wind turbines that not only have to be built, but maintained as well. Merner echoed the same sentiment.

READ MORE: Green Party picking up steam across the country, says B.C. leader Andrew Weaver

“We have a plan for jobs,” Merner said. “They’ll be different jobs and there will be a transition.”

The crowd also cheered when May and Merner spoke about engaging more youth in the upcoming election, banning single-use plastic items and providing voters with a fully-costed budget that is approved by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“We look at the triple bottom line…ecological, social and economic,” May said.

The event ended with a standing ovation from community members in the crowd.

“We need to clean up a lot of what’s going on,” May said. “Whether it’s corruption at the corporate level or having regulators who are too cozy with the industries they regulate and, specifically, we have to act on the climate crisis before it’s too late.”

May and Merner will host another town hall in Saanich on March 29 at the Royal Oak Women’s Institute at 7 p.m.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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