Update: Some may have found chunks of Jane’s responses have been copied/pasted from the Green Party’s website. As my website stands for genuine and authentic content, I have contacted the Green Party about this issue and will update again shortly.
Update: May 8, 2009 – I had a telephone conversation with Jane Sterk and have updated her answers below.
Continuing my election coverage I have requested interviews with several of the candidates for Premier and they have all been gracious enough to supply answers to my questions. The following are the responses from Jane Sterk of the BC Green Party.
Question: The social media community in Vancouver organized â€œMental Health Campâ€ this past weekend and with this in mind – on top of the pressing topic of homelessness, are there any plans to support the untreated living in the Downtown Eastside?
Answer from Jane Sterk: The BC Green Party has a comprehensive policy to help treat people suffering from addiction and mental health issues, including helping families with children. These policies not only apply to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, but to all citizens of BC.
BC Greens will implement a full range of programs for families, including:
Direct services: parental, life-skill, employment, and education training, grade school and high school completion, and health and mental health education.
Supportive, indirect services: prevention services, such as child care, in-home support, emergency and crisis services, a guaranteed livable income, and adequate and safe housing.
The Green Partyâ€™s new â€œGreen Strategy for Substance Useâ€ is an evidence-based, public-health centered approach that will take away power from organized crime without criminalizing those who struggle with addictions.
BC Greens Will
Local social trusts will work with families living in poverty or who experience mental health issues, domestic violence, and/or substance abuse.
Trust programs will be designed to support family needs and foster healthy family functioning. Whenever possible, families will be assisted to stay together, be gainfully employed, develop appropriate parenting and family skills. There will be access to family support services in all communities throughout the province.
Trusts will develop prevention and remediation strategies to deal with the health and social issues of local at-risk families.
Local authorities will be responsible and accountable for planning and coordinating complete support service plans that address housing, education, employment, remediation and prevention for children and families faced with the challenge of overcoming their histories.
When adult activity shows criminal intent, financial exploitation of a child, abuse or neglect, the criminal justice system will have authority, rather than the child welfare system.
The Green Party plan acknowledges the needs of First Nations families in BC. One in 20 British Columbians is an aboriginal person: one in 2 children in care is aboriginal. Indigenous British Columbians struggle with a quality of life that is, according to the Provincial Health Officer, 20% lower than other citizens.
The Green Party recognizes the need to improve the quality of life of First Nations peoples through improved housing conditions, better education, more employment opportunities, and increased access to health programs, including traditional medicines.
Update from telephone conversation: On the topic of homelessness, Jane said the plan is to commit 1% of the provincial budget to housing, saying that there is a role for the government to take in making sure there is housing available and accessible for people. She also noted that given the downturn in the economy and the number of projects that are incomplete or unsold, there’s a real opportunity there for the government to step in and create more rental housing geared at those with lower incomes.
Having a home is not only an essential human right, but Sterk commented that it’s also therapeutic – meaning when you have a safe, clean, home, it impacts your life & way of life immeasurably.
Question: Although Vancouver is the hub of activity in B.C., what are your main concerns or areas of focus throughout the rest of B.C.?
Answer from Jane Sterk: The Green Party recognizes that a healthy environment and responsible resource use is essential for healthy communities and a strong economy. Our plan for the environment focuses upon the conservation of resources through improved efficiencies, the reduction of toxic pollutants, and the protection of wilderness.
Climate change truly is the critical issue of our time. There is a growing consensus that we must avert a 2Â°C temperature increase above pre-industrial times. Global temperature is already about 0.7Â° above that level, and another 0.5Â° is likely â€œlocked inâ€ due to an ever thickening blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If these temperatures continue to rise unabated they will dramatically damage our economy.
Climate change is not only an economic issue but also a social justice issue. Those in poverty, the working poor, and the lower middle class are all disproportionally penalized by the stresses climate change brings. Therefore, BC Greens will ensure any measures to limit climate change include protections for the most vulnerable in our society.
The Green Party proposes a comprehensive package of strategic actions to address both carbon emissions and climate change in BC. Given the focused work of many dedicated stakeholders, we draw on existing studies and policy proposals.
We understand the need to price the cost of pollution into the economy and the need to emphasize energy conservation and alternative energy sources. Our package therefore includes: emission targets, regulation and taxation, transportation reforms, increased information sharing and coordination, and adaptation strategies.
By directing investment into infrastructure renewal, green technological advancements, and higher education we can transform the BC economy. Green Party policies would help create thousands of new jobs in BC by transitioning to clean industries and technologies. (In March alone, BC lost 23,000 jobs according to Stats Canada.) Significant economic opportunities would result from energy conservation, transit development, renewable energy generation, value-added forestry, fisheries regeneration, restoration of natural systems and service sector expansions. All of these jobs mean money flowing through the economy.
The Green Partyâ€™s plan includes incentive pricing for the renewable energy sector as well as investments in energy-efficient building, building retrofits, sustainable agriculture, and value-added manufacturing. Greens would reduce the tax burden upon businesses that are responsible and sustainable.
BC Greens will work with business and industry to create lasting green-collar jobs while simultaneously addressing climate change by reducing emissions.
Update from telephone conversation: I did not ask this question in the phone interview
Question, submitted by a Twitter contact: How are the greens going to tackle renters issues?
Answer from Jane Sterk: BC Greens will
Question, submitted by a Twitter contact: What are the Greens’ plans for the Oil & Gas Industry – not the greatest environmental industry but huge for the provincial economy?
Answer from Jane Sterk: Currently the oil and gas industry receives nearly $1 billion in subsidies from the provincial government. To strengthen our economy, BC Greens will reduce our dependence on oil and gas revenues and encourage a conversion to alternative energy sources. We will fuel the BC economy with clean energy by getting the province off this dying industry.
What does Clean and Green Mean? Clean energy does not produce harmful by-products such as SO2, carbon dioxide, radioactive waste, and other toxic or harmful substances. Green energy does minimal harm to the environment and its planning and development considers broader economic and social concerns. In keeping with Green principles, green energy projects are smaller scale and managed regionally.
Update from telephone conversation: I did not ask this question in the phone interview.
Question from my Twitter contacts: In an election where everyone is talking about ‘greenness’ and the environment… how will the green party differentiate itself?
The Green Party has been steadfast in its opposition to the Gateway Program. BC Greens would work to cancel the Gateway Program and redirect the nearly $8 billion of taxpayers’ money towards education, health care, affordable housing, social programs, improved public transit, etc. This gas-belching, farm-flattening freeway will be a detriment, not only to the Lower Mainland, but to all citizens of BC. The Green Party has been firm from the beginning that the Gateway Program will cause more harm than good. It will not relieve congestion because the goal should be to get drivers out of their cars and into workable, convenient public transit. The other parties’ support and flip-flopping of support shows that they are not thinking about the long-term effects of such an expensive endeavour, just political expediency.
Update from telephone conversation: With regards to global climate change, Jane said that the Greens “see our plan as the only real plan for the future,” and that they also have the only comprehensive plan on climate change issues.
“The economy is inextricably linked to the environment,” said Jane noting the direct connections between the two. “We’re proposing that we localize and regionalize the economy – that we work toward self-sufficiency within those economies.” She went on to explain that would involve energy production, waste management, social services etc. all being managed regionally, within those economies. This system would then create all kinds of business opportunities and new jobs. “Our economic plan, our social plan, and our protection of resources is designed to also deal with our environmental responsibility. To essentially get a cap on our emissions and then ultimately reduce our emissions so that the planet can recover from the damage that’s already been done.”
Question: Youâ€™ve been using Twitter, posting updates, and I personally know candidates like Stephen Rees & Trevor Loke from blogging and Facebook — How has social media affected your campaign so far and do you enjoy being part of the online community?
Answer from Jane Sterk: Green Party candidates know that social media reaches a wide audience. We are not afraid to use the medium to help encourage younger voters to become involved and learn about the issues. We find that it is a good tool to get our message out to the voters who may not have otherwise become engaged. Our support of the of the Yes for BC-STV campaign has been widespread because of Twitter and Facebook and this is a good thing because the other parties’ wall of silence has not helped in spreading the word about the existence of the referendum that will bring fair voting to BC.
Update from telephone conversation: “In my personal campaign I have been out on Facebook, Twitter, and I have a YouTube channel,” said Jane when it comes to her campaign’s use of social media tools. “I have personally been using that media with the assistance of some people who are way more savvy in the use of these technologies and media — so I do have assistants that are helping me in that process.”
She said it’s about connecting with a specific group of voters as well. “The demographic that is intensely involved in social media is the demographic that doesn’t vote in large numbers (only 25% of the people 18-24 vote). We are hoping that we can say that there is value to voting, for those people, because our democracy is at risk. We want to encourage a re-investment in democracy, even if it is just a leap of faith at this time – they matter in our democratic process.” She said that a participatory democracy is a core value and with the Green Party having a the largest group of candidates under 30, connecting with voters using these mediums is key.