28 February 2009

NDP About-Faces Another Position

Anyone who has studied traffic congestion knows that if you build a highway, the cars will come. And come. And come. Until you get what the highway was designed to prevent: traffic congestion.

Once upon a time, it appeared that the NDP knew that fundamental truth too. Well, not anymore. At least not enough to protest the replacement of Vancouver's Port Mann Bridge with a ten-lane, $3.3 billion "super-sized" highway.
In a phone interview, the Straight asked [BC NDP leader Carole] James if she was in favour of B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon's recent announcement that the bridge will be replaced by [the proposed] structure that will be financed through a public-private partnership.

“Yes,” James confirmed from Victoria. “You have to have a bridge. You have to have a crossing across there. It's very clear that the traffic is high enough that you need to have a bridge there.”

James is equivocating. "You need to have a bridge there" doesn't logically entail "you need to have THIS bridge there." Moreover, James has reversed the position she stated in a presentation to the Union of BC Municipalities in 2007.
Two days before the arrival of former U.S. vice president and environmental celebrity Al Gore in Vancouver, she was in opposition to the then-planned $800-million twinning of the Port Mann span that Falcon had announced in 2004.

At the time, she said: “If the objective is to reduce the traffic congestion that drives commuters crazy and reduce greenhouse gases that are ruining our planet, then transit, not blacktop, has to be the priority.”

People have noticed this bewildering reversal.
Opponents of the provincial Gateway program say they are disappointed that James has done a political about-face.

“It's definitely disappointing,” Eric Doherty of the Livable Region Coalition told the Georgia Straight by phone. “But it also raises questions about whether they [NDP] are serious about tackling climate change, and also whether they are really serious about creating jobs in B.C. Jobs in the automobile sector are about exporting jobs out of the country and out of the province.”

This reminds me of the NDP's Axe the Tax campaign which so infuriated environmentalists. That was a NDP position which surprised - and failed - too.

The article is a full page. I suggest reading the whole thing, also the follow-up piece.

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