Dogwood organizers in the ridings of North Vancouver and Burnaby North Seymour had an opportunity to experience the Liberal government’s promise of openness and transparency when they met with newly elected MPs Jonathan Wilkinson and Terry Beech last week. It was the first opportunity Dogwood volunteers had had to meet their representatives and talk about community issues since the election. It was also an opportunity for us to outline top priorities for the two ridings: addressing climate change and stopping expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The tone was anything but adversarial. In fact, it was downright positive.

“Nothing has changed since the election,” North Burnaby North-Seymour MP Terry Beech said. “We are dedicated to our platform and excited about being held accountable.”

Climate change is an area of the Liberal platform that will see action fast, North Vancouver’s new MP Jonathan Wilkinson added. “Coal, oil and gas are not going to be growth sectors going forward.” The government’s job, he said, will be to create strategies and encourage new sectors for Canada’s economic future.

While he offered no specific numbers with respect to reducing emissions, Wilkinson pointed out that meeting targets will be a greater challenge for some provinces than others. Beech stated some provinces may not meet their targets, but also pointed out that Canada’s size and constitutional makeup present opportunities: provinces will tackle emissions using diverse strategies and we can learn from their failures and successes. Beech also said Canada needs to retake the moral high ground with respect to its performance on climate.

The future of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion remains uncertain. Both MP’s are on record saying the proposal should be reviewed once the National Energy Board’s (NEB) regulatory process is revised. Will emissions targets be included in the new NEB process? That seems to be up in the air, but it’s clear the Liberals aim to bring the provinces with them when it comes to changing energy policies.

“We have to find a way not to be divisive,” Wilkinson said. But what about Kinder Morgan’s proposal? How will it fit into the new NEB process? That’s up in the air, too. There will be a transitional process for projects currently under review. They won’t have to start over from square one, Wilkinson said, but he indicated they will have to “address and satisfy additional requirements” emerging from deficiencies in the current NEB process.

In all fairness, it is early days. The two new Members of Parliament have been busy setting up office and learning protocols for their jobs. They’ve already promised a follow-up meeting after the government’s first session of Parliament.

Both MP’s said they were impressed with a meeting on energy, economics and the environment the Dogwood Initiative and BC Sustainable Energy Association hosted prior to the election, saying it was a highlight among all candidate meetings. Wilkinson encouraged Dogwood to organise more town halls. “[They] create opportunities for dialogue,” he said. “Though we may agree or disagree, the conversation is valued.”