December 12th, 2021

Friends and delegates, my name is Avi Lewis, with Powell River-Sunshine Coast, coming to you from the swiya of the shíshálh Nation.

I’m voting for referral of this resolution because  – as so many of you know – there is a pipeline-sized elephant in the room at this convention, and in this province.

And it’s time to speak its name aloud: it is our government’s continued support of fossil fuel expansion in the very teeth of a cascading climate emergency.

Either we get off oil and gas – and that means an end to fracking, stopping the Coastal GasLink pipeline, ending all fossil fuel subsidies immediately – or we will see more lives and livestock and livelihoods swept away in serial disasters.

And make no mistake: the devastating colonial violence of removing Wet’suwet’en land defenders from their territory – violence explicitly approved and authorized 3 years in a row by the solicitor general of this province – that violence will be necessary as long as BC is forcing fossil fuel projects through without consent.  

But what of the workers? What of the jobs? The oil and gas industry accounts for only .2% of the workforce of BC and creates 20% of our total emissions.

We’re doing those workers no favours by extending the life of that industry for another planet-choking decade or two.

We need a managed, compassionate wind-down of oil and gas in BC – one that takes care of workers and Indigenous communities – not the profits of corporate gluttons.

Premier Horgan invoked the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Tommy Douglas. JS Woodsworth. My grandfather David Lewis was part of that generation.

And if he was alive today, I believe he would say that the fossil fuel corporations are the corporate welfare bums of the 21st century. They have drunk deeply at the trough of our collective wealth for too long. It’s time to cut them off.

Our party has not had an open debate about our government’s embrace of oil and gas expansion. We need one desperately.

Until we have one, I cannot support climate resolutions that ignore the smell of gas in our burning house.

Thank you.