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Kids put B.C. political parties on climate hot seat

Sam Harrison is too young to vote in the upcoming May 14 provincial election, but that is not stopping him from holding political candidates accountable about B.C.s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2020.

Sam Harrison is too young to vote in the upcoming May 14 provincial election, but that is not stopping him from holding political candidates accountable about B.C.s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2020.

Kids for Climate Action, an organization started by Harrisons sister, is putting all political parties on the hot seat on their climate policy. Their goal is to push party leaders to answer questions on pipelines, liquid natural gas or LNG development and the carbon tax. Kids for Climate Action is non-partisan but Harrison wants residents of B.C. to see climate as a voting issue when they go to the polls.

We are telling people to consider climate change when they vote because if candidates want to get elected they need to start listening to people, said Harrison.

Recently Kids for Climate Action went knocking on doors in the Vancouver-Kingsway riding of NDP leader Adrian Dix. The group also brought a translator to speak with non-English residents in the neighbourhood.

We got 35 youth volunteers to knock on doors and we put up signs in Dixs riding. We want him to know that climate change is an important issue, said Harrison.

The NDP doesnt have a stance on coal expansion and exports and they are pro LNG. Its incompatible with the 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carol Lee, a representative from the Magee Secondary School Student Vote Initiative Team, says that students grow up with saving the environment messages so when a party supports something like fracking this surprises students.

Student Vote has worked in schools for the last 10 years, collaborating with teachers and Elections B.C. Its mandate is to provide British Columbias elementary and high schools with resources for educators to teach democracy and citizenship. Across B.C. on May 13, the day before the election, 760 schools including more than 70 in Vancouver will hold a parallel election for students under voting age. Students will cast their ballots on May 13 and the vote will be compared to the real thing happening the next day.

Students are excited because the whole school is involved, it kind of bonds us together, Lee said.

Brenda Ball, a teacher and head of the social studies department at Crofton House, has hosted Student Vote since 2009.

I thought there needed to be more done in school so I brought Student Vote to Crofton House, said Ball. The civic classes cover more than just party platforms and the workings of government. They also do media analysis and debate deconstruction. We get students to analyze the images of the candidates and we discuss how important image is in our decision making.

ttthill@hotmail.com