MP Stetski replies to Sparwood’s David Wilks
Letter to the Editor
Well, David, the last time we sat together for dinner, which was at the 2019 Elk Valley Mines Industrial Safety Awards in Fernie on May 11, you did tell me you planned to pen some partisan political letters heading into the fall election, and your letter on climate, industry and politics certainly qualifies!
I have been a supporter of the Elk Valley coal mines for many years in many capacities. As Kootenay Regional Manager for the BC Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Stewardship Division from 2002 to 2009, my staff worked closely with the mines and their staff to help improve their environmental performance. Teck was an important partner when I moved on as Manager of the East Kootenay Conservation Program, coordinating conservation on private lands from 2009 to 2011.
As Mayor of Cranbrook from 2011 to 2014, I often spoke of the importance of the coal mines to our economy – about 500 people living in Cranbrook earn their living from work associated with the mines. As Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia since 2015 I have continued to acknowledge the high-quality coal that comes from the Elk Valley. Both Teck Corporation and the Steelworkers Union know from my history that I am on their side.
I also appreciate the effort that Teck is undertaking to try and reduce selenium mining effluent from entering local creeks and the Elk River. This is a serious environmental concern requiring on-going action, along with protecting Big Horn Sheep habitat and controlling coal dust from mines and from coal trains. I believe Teck will continue to work on these important issues which are important to my constituents.
While I support the coal mines and those who work in them I continue to be disappointed that neither the former Conservative government nor the current Liberal government appear to care or understand that we send many good paying jobs overseas by exporting the Canadian-mined coal to foreign countries to produce steel abroad, and then buying that foreign-made steel and paying to have it shipped back to Canada. We should be using Canadian-mined coal to smelt Canadian steel right here in Canada, and we should stop shipping raw logs to foreign countries while our local saw mills struggle to secure adequate timber supply.
In terms of climate change, recent independent comparisons of all party’s climate change plans rate the NDP’s plan as the best because we address both the need to reduce our green-house gas emissions (GHGs) AND the need to implement actions to transition our economy and our oil and gas workers to good paying green energy jobs. We will be there for our workers! The Conservative plan focusses on industry finding innovative solutions to solve the climate change crisis. While important, climate change scientists rightfully say it will take much more than that to stem global warming.
I am a Vice Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. One of our roles is to study issues critical to Canada’s environment, and there is no issue more critical than climate change. We recently produced two reports on Climate Change after hearing from expert witnesses that included scientists and economists. What we heard is reflected in B.C.’s experience – having a carbon tax reduces GHGs and your economy can still be strong. B.C. has had a carbon tax in place since 2008 and has often led the country in economic growth since then. We are an example that the rest of Canada can follow!
Thank you, Mayor Wilks, for providing me with an opportunity to share the facts!
To find out more, here are some useful links.
Reports 18 and 19 from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development:
Member of Parliament,