Our Meeting with Gordon Hogg, Surrey-White Rock

This wednesday April 8th, students from elementary school to university went to meet with Gordon Hogg, MLA of Surrey-White Rock. It was a sunny day, and he was quite happy that some students came to meet with him.

We explained that thermal coal port expansions at Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island will contribute to climate change and are not in BC’s best interest.

Mr. Hogg explained that he agreed that this shipping of US thermal coal would not help BC much and that we take a lot of the risk. He wrote a letter to Port Metro Vancouver and Fraser Surrey Docks urging them to conduct a full health impact assessment. The trains will pass through our communities of White Rock and Crescent Beach so a number of people have come and spoken to him about this issue already. He also said that the Texada Island project is currently tied up in courts and hopefully will be for some time. However, when we asked him to sign the pledge to stopping new thermal coal exports he declined.

In this process we learned about the constant source of conflict in politics. Mr. Hogg mentioned that he always considers personal values, the values of his constituents, and the values of his team (the BC Liberals). However, these do not always align and that makes the job of a politician much harder. He said that if he steps out of line of BC liberal policy which is to stay quiet about these exports, then he may be viewed as a radical and not be as respected in the decision making process. At the same time, he said that the provincial government does not have much say over the coal port expansion.

This leads me to question how our government works.

Why is it, that our elected officials are afraid to take a stand against bad ideas that conflict with their constituents’ and personal values?

We are stuck in a system where our representatives are restricted from speaking the truth in order to fit in to a certain agenda. When I saw Christy Clark’s budget speech in Surrey, it was at a venue sponsored by Fraser Surrey Docks. As youth who are concerned the reckless fossil fuel economy, we are fighting against big enterprise and poor political will to move us forward. But Defend Our Future has shown that youth can and will come together to push for a safe climate and strong democracy. Here’s to this being just the beginning!

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