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Tory blunder on electric cars puts green cred in question
Published Saturday, February 25, 2012 7:39PM PST
A Vancouver Conservative MP is raising eyebrows after she mistakenly suggested that the northern town of Fort St. John had charging stations for electric cars a full quarter century ago.
Vancouver South representative Wai Young made an appearance with municipal officials Wednesday to announce the installation of 67 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city, a project that was partly funded by the federal government. Before she began her prepared remarks, Young reminisced about a visit to Fort St. John 25 years ago.
"While I was up there, of course they had all these plug-ins, but coming from Vancouver I had no idea what they were, because 25 years ago, this was not a common thing. It's great that I'm standing here today saying that we're going to be bringing this to our city and greening and doing more for our environment," the MP said.
The plugs she was referring to are actually for block heaters, a common sight in much of the rest of Canada, where low temperatures mean engines need a little help warming up in the winter.
When reached by telephone Friday, Young said she didn't get it wrong – she was talking about plugging in cars in general.
"I was just alluding to the fact that when driving into Fort St. John, when you see a car on a plug you don't know what that is," she told CTV News.
"It's probably a bad example to begin with.... What I was trying to say is that this is not something I would have seen growing up in Vancouver."
Guy Dauncey, executive director of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, told CTV News that block heaters and electric car plug-ins are "completely different" technologies.
"If this is a misunderstanding, it doesn't surprise me really, because there's not a lot of awareness around climate change and energy issues within the Conservative party," Dauncey said.
He pointed out that the Tories were also in power during Young's northern foray 25 years ago.
"If they had been doing leadership on bringing electric vehicles to Fort St. John 25 years ago, that would have been just amazing. I wish we had that kind of leadership today," he said.
"If Fort St. John had been rolling out electric vehicles 25 years ago, we could have the entire province of British Columbia now being a global leader in electric vehicles."
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart said Young's remarks indicate that she's not very familiar with green energy technologies.
"I think [the Conservatives] have to seriously look at alternative forms of transportation and energy, and this shows really that it's not top of mind, even when they're standing in front of the new technology," Stewart said.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward