P.E.I. Green Party Leader Sharon Labchuk is challenging Environment Minister Richard Brown in District 12 (Charlottetown-Victoria Park) in an election fight the outspoken environmentalist hopes will spotlight the Liberal minister’s failure to protect the environment.
Labchuk may live in Millvale, in rural Queens County, but she’s decided to take her next election fight to one of the Island’s most urban riding.
“This is Richard Brown’s riding, our minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry. I actually had hope he might do something useful when he was elected, as he’d worked with me on a couple of environmental issues when he was a city councillor,” said Labchuk.
“But he’s been one of the worst Environment ministers in all the years I’ve been involved. The devastating fish kills last weekend clinched it for me. This province desperately needs Green MLAs in the legislature.”
The environmentalist is no stranger to politics. She ran unsuccessfully provincially in her home riding of Rustico-Emerald and has also offered twice as a federal candidate for the Green Party of Canada.
Labchuk, who lives in a solar house and grows much of her own vegetables and fruits, is employed by the Green Party of Canada as the party’s national director of organizing.
Brown said he’s looking forward to the fight.
He points to his government’s record, including banning lawn care pesticides, increased buffer zones and increased funding to watershed and agricultural groups to help protect the environment.
“I’ll put my record against Sharon Labchuk’s record anytime,” said Brown.
“We’ve met our environmental targets eight years earlier than planned.”
In the last provincial election in 2007, the Green Party took less than six per cent of the total vote in District 12, Charlottetown-Victoria Park.
That put the party in fourth place.
Brown received 53.6 per cent of the vote.
So far, neither the Progressive Conservative Party nor the NDP have announced a candidate in the district
Labchuk laughs when she hears that Brown says he’ll put his record up against hers.
“The lawn pesticide legislation was a massive betrayal of Islanders,” she said, adding that Brown banned only one of the 80 lawn and garden pesticides banned in Ontario.
“I don’t think that’s a very good record if he wants to put that up against mine.”
But Brown said the P.E.I. government banned one chemical, 2,4-D, but that effectively banned hundreds of products.
He said he prefers to work with the agriculture community, rather than passing legislation that would effectively shut down an industry that is the backbone of the Island’s economy.”
“So therefore we banned hundreds of products with that active ingredient.”