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By Loreth Beswetherick B.C. Green Party leader Stuart Parker is on the campaign trail. Once municipal elections are out of the way, the province will likely head straight into the run-up for the next general election, Parker said last week. Parker was in Whistler as guest speaker at the Association for Whistler Area Residents for the Environment’s monthly meeting. He was also here to sell his party. AWARE president Stephane Perron said the environmental group does not necessarily endorse the Greens, they just wanted to learn more. He said the B.C. Greens are the only political party in the province that believes the ideology of unlimited economic growth should be abandoned and that the province should move toward a sustainable society. Parker told the group his party was taken aback by the amount of support it received from the Whistler area in the last provincial election. He said roughly 2,400 votes went to Lisa Barret who ran for the Greens in the West Vancouver-Garibaldi riding. He said that represented five per cent of the votes for the riding but, even more surprising, was the 15 per cent support from voters in the Whistler municipal area. "About 15 per cent of people in the district of Whistler voted Green," said Parker. "That was a striking result — the most dramatic improvement in B.C." Parker said that kind of support is unusual in a riding held by the B.C. Liberals. He said the communities that traditionally show most support for the Greens are Nelson and the Victoria area. Parker outlined his party platform for AWARE members, emphasizing environmental initiatives. He, however, steered clear of taking a stand on the Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s push to see 500,000 hectares of the so-called Stoltmann wilderness area preserved as a national park. Parker said the Greens support moderate selective logging practices that preserve the jobs of hunters, trappers, guides, fishers and loggers. The Greens oppose clear cutting and are in favour of preserving the old growth canopy. A Green government would allocate 60 per cent of B.C.’s working forest as community forests regulated by locally-elected boards empowered to grant tenure and community title. The kick-off point would be to halt the renewal of tree farm licences and large tenures held by multi-national corporations. Parker zeroed in on Whistler’s obsession with growth. He said he believes in a community-based democratic government where a council should not be voting on new developments in a neighbourhood — the residents of the neighbourhood should be the ones voting on projects. "There is a tremendous opportunity for that in Whistler." A Green government would impose an immediate 18-month moratorium on the re-zoning of land in regions which appear to be critically close, or beyond, their local carrying capacity. Parker, 27, is both the youngest and longest-serving leader of a B.C. political party. He formed the Young Greens — the B.C. Green Party’s youth wing — in 1988 after he left the NDP disillusioned with that party’s direction under Mike Harcourt. Parker won the Green Party leadership at age 21, becoming the youngest leader of a Canadian political party. He is now not only fighting on his party’s behalf for a bigger chunk of the B.C. political pie as the province trundles toward the next election — there is opposition to his leadership coming from within the party ranks. A bitter leadership battle has surfaced between Parker and one of the party’s founding members — the WCWC’s director Adriane Carr. The rivalry erupted earlier this month at a party meeting in Abbotsford where Carr’s motion for a leadership convention was rejected. At the same gathering Carr’s husband, Paul George, was rejected as membership chair and well-known environmentalist Colleen McCrory failed in her bid for party chair. Parker said the ageing party brass thinks he is a young, radical upstart, while the Carr environmental camp alleges unethical tactics were employed at the convention, including the use of elementary-age kids who were brought in to sign up as convention delegates and vote. Parker came to Whistler off a heated CBC radio debate on the issue with Paul George earlier in the day. Parker said the Green Party has grown because of his push to move it beyond its environmental roots and appeal to a broader audience. He said it can’t afford to pander to ageing baby boomers.

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