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NDP candidate Michael Byers

NDP candidate Michael Byers calls for end to tar sands

The NDP candidate for the Vancouver Centre riding, Michael Byers, has called for an end to the tar sands. During…

By Alfred Hermida , in Elections , on September 25, 2008 Tags: , , , , ,

NDP candidate Michael Byers was questioned by student journalists

The NDP candidate for the Vancouver Centre riding, Michael Byers, has called for an end to the tar sands.

During a debate hosted by the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Mr Byers said: “We need to go after the big polluters and we need to shut the tar sands down.”

The NDP leader Jack Layton has called for a moratorium on further expansion of oil sands development in Alberta due to the environmental impact of the industry. But he has not gone as far as calling for the industry to be shut down

The tar sand deposits cover 141,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and muskeg, almost all of it in Alberta. In 2007, the total value of product from the tar sands in 2007 was $24 billion.

The comments on the tar sands came towards the end of the debate between the candidates competing in the Vancouver-Centre riding – Hedy Fry (Liberal incumbent), Lorne Mayencourt (Conservative), Adriane Carr (Green Party) and Michael Byers (NDP).

“You won’t get any votes in Alberta,” said Mr Mayencourt, while Ms Carr emphasized that her party was “not that radical.”

Explaining his comments, Mr Byers argued that the oil sands “make no sense economically and certainly no sense environmentally”.

When asked if the NDP would phase out the oil sands if voted in, Mr Byers said that there would be no need to “padlock the doors” because the tar sands will phase themselves out.

“If we are burning oil and gas in 20 and 30 years…this planet is finished,” he said.

The candidates were asked what animal they would be. Mr Byers chose the polar bear.  Mr Mayencourt of the Conservatives chose the golden Labrador, Ms Carr of the Greens the wild salmon and Dr Fry of the Liberals chose the lion.

Mr Byers calls for the tar sands to be shut down:

Mr Byers and the other candidates questioned about the tar sands:

Listen to the whole debate:

The full debate is also available as a podcast from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism on iTunes U.


  • Watching the debate today gave me a deeper understanding of the four Vancouver Center candidates stand on the pressing issues.

    As Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry and NDP’s Michael Byers skirmished over the issues of homelessness, poverty, drug abuse and Carbon Tax Green Party’s Adriane Carr and Conservative Lorne Mayencourt tread a more cautious path.

    It emerged to be a very lively debate that had an unexpected ending with discussion on Byer’s comments on Tar Sands

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