Whatever you think you may know about the Green Party, dig a little deeper.
That’s the message from freshly-dubbed BC Green candidate and repeat North Coast nominee Hondo Arendt as the provincial election race heats up into April before the May 9 B.C. election.
The party isn’t some extremely left wing radical group, nor is it concerned about a single issue.
In fact, if Arendt had his way, they probably wouldn’t be called the Greens at all.
“Here in B.C. I think we often get stereotyped like ‘They’re pro-environmentalists or they’re tree-huggers’,” said Arendt.
“But we’ve obviously grown up quite a bit and become a much more established and broader party … People realize we have a much more comprehensive platform than just environment, environment, environment. It’s too bad that the name’s the Green Party, because people simplify it.”
Arendt is running for the MLA position for the third time in the North Coast, previously making the trek down the 2005 and 2013 campaign trails for the Greens. Federally, Arendt ran in the 2008 election.
He has been a Northwest Community College professor and been involved with the college for 25 years, mostly teaching political science and history, among other subjects. Living in B.C.’s northwest for most of his life, Arendt has resided in Houston, Terrace, Kincolith and Prince Rupert.
The B.C. Greens’ expansive platform focuses on sustainability in all things, whether it be the environment, the economy or social impacts to decisions. Arendt even had a hand in writing the platform policies in a past election for the party.
Here on the North Coast, Arendt is not a fan of the proposed LNG industry, as natural gas is one of the fossil fuels that he would like to see Canada transition away from.
“LNG has done a good job of selling itself as the green fossil fuel, but it’s quite deceptive in that sense. If you’re actually just concerned about climate change and greenhouse gases, then natural gas is probably worse than oil or coal. It’s often pointed out [LNG] releases less carbon, but not that it releases almost 100 per cent of the methane,” Arendt explained.
The province needs a more progressive tax system, one that truly taxes energy companies for some of the environmental and social impacts that companies dealing with fossil fuels project out, he said.
“In terms of dollars per energy unit [wind or solar] is creating, it’s not as effective, but if you actually said ‘Well, fossil fuels also taints the watershed, it releases airborne particulates, it also causes climate change.’ To ameliorate all these problems, we’re spending tons of money and therefore we should be taking that into account and tax those industries,” Arendt said.
“And if we did that, it would be more expensive for energy in general, but it would also make it much more competitive for green energy to come online.”
The Green Party has gotten a bad rap as being anti-business, the nominee said, but commonly, the party is by far many people’s second choice, whether they be left-wing or right-wing.
“We don’t want to shut down everything. I certainly have nothing against port activity. We’re always going to have trade and transport. The Green Party is probably the strongest supporter of small business and the idea of as much local production as possible,” Arendt said.
Despite proposing many potentially costly endeavours that would promote innovation and sustainable enterprise, the Greens would also propose balanced budgets every year (a reason why fiscal conservatives often jump on board, he said).
“You can’t have a functioning society without a functioning economy, and you can’t expect government to keep going well if you’re just always running up debt,” Arendt said.
The professor now joins BC NDP incumbent Jennifer Rice and BC Liberals challenger Herb Pond in the provincial race (all three have previously run for the position before).