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LETTER: Environmental preservation is not government’s priority

I write to take issue with Murray Rankin’s recent column Working to protect ancient forests. His column repeats misleading NDP tropes and misinformation.

First of all, if one is a “passionate environmentalist,” they do not have to write a column proclaiming it; their actions would speak for themselves. However, the actions of the NDP government have not been those of passionate environmentalists; just the opposite.

The NDP promised to implement the report of the Old-Growth Strategic Review Panel, which they received in April 2020. However, they have not taken the first step. In the section of the report entitled “Immediate Responses,” it says: “Until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are a very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.” The NDP government has not done this; it prefers to talk and log.

The NDP and Mr. Rankin continue to claim that they have protected 200,000 hectares of old-growth. However, when this figure is broken down, only 3,800 hectares is productive old-growth forest. Much of it was already protected, and most of it is high-elevation, unproductive, smaller old-growth.

As calculated by independent experts Holt, Price, and Daust [now part of the latest panel appointed by the NDP government], the most at-risk old-growth forests that require immediate deferral, based on the criteria set by the Old-Growth Strategic Review Panel, total about 1.3 million hectares, not 3,800 hectares.

Environmental preservation is not this government’s priority. We are in a climate crisis, and the best defence we have is intact old-growth forests, which sequester carbon. This government is adding to the climate crisis in other ways with its subsidies to the LNG industry, which, end to end, is dirtier than coal. LNG, the development of which is expected to increase by 31 per cent this year in British Columbia.

If Mr. Rankin is an environmentalist as he claims, he should publicly stand up in the NDP caucus and call on the government to end its climate and environmental destructive polices.

Robbie Newton

Saanich