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Sudden focus on global warming draws suspicion amid TILMA, other controversies

BURNABY – The BC Liberals are using the environment as a smokescreen to distract voters from unpopular initiatives such as mass privatization and a radical trade agreement with Alberta, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Today’s Speech from the Throne—and a five-page government press release that followed it—was dominated by new ideas for various sectors aimed at reducing carbon emissions. CUPE says that Premier Gordon Campbell’s sudden interest in global warming is admirable but dubious.

“I’m pleased that the speech mentions climate change, but one has to wonder why the premier is suddenly embracing his Inner Eco-Warrior when his government has paid virtually no attention to this area,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

“Once again, like last year, there are platitudes about ‘unacceptable’ homelessness, but no recognition that it’s the government’s own policies and cutbacks that have led to the crisis in Vancouver and other cities. They talk about ‘sunshine legislation’ for school district companies’ business practices. Maybe they should consider ‘sunshine legislation’ for their own public-private partnership agenda, which is notorious for its secrecy.”

O’Neill also wonders how some of the government’s more ambitious targets for carbon emission reduction—plus a plan to outlaw greenhouse gas emissions for coal-fired electricity projects anywhere in B.C.—will sit with Alberta once the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) comes into effect on April 1.

“One has to wonder how serious the premier is about some of these initiatives, given the importance TILMA places on giving business the right to $5-million penalties if the government interferes with their investments,” he says.


O’Neill says the government is right to link the cost of climate change to consumption, but he adds that talk of saving the world for future generations seems hypocritical in light of the government’s childcare policy: “They’ve just cut $50 million from the provincial budget for childcare. The reality in this province is that cutbacks hurt people, and these cuts are going to affect the future leaders of this province.”


Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: (604) 340-6768

Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132