Dana for BC NDP Leader

    February 14, 2011
    Dana Larsen: BC should decriminalize, unionize the sex trade to save lives
    BC NDP Leadership Candidate Dana Larsen today announced that as Premier he would allow sex workers and escorts to unionize and form co-operatives to protect their rights and safety.
    "As Premier, I would defund the police enforcement, prosecution and incarceration of offences related to the sex trade in an effort to increase safety for street sex workers."
    “We know from the evidence that only a small minority of sex workers in Canada work on the street, the rest operate in what amounts to a legal environment as 'escorts'” continued Larsen, “We have a set of laws here that only target the most impoverished, marginalized few percent of sex workers, preventing them from unionizing, hiring security, or otherwise trying to increase their safety.
    "In short, I propose we decriminalize sex work so that these men and women can unionize and improve their safety."
    According to research conducted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the criminalization of acts related to sex work “place sex workers in circumstances where they are vulnerable to high levels of violence and exploitation, as well as potential exposure to HIV”.
    Based on this and other evidence, a court in Ontario declared the criminalization of sex work unconstitutional this Fall. A similar challenge in British Columbia was approved this October. Counsel for the British Columbia constitutional challenge is the Pivot Legal Society based in Vancouver, BC.
    "The laws against sex workers working from a home, working together or hiring security only result in increased victimization of these vulnerable women. These laws have been declared unconstitutional and should be struck from the books. As Premier, I would ensure that sex workers get off the street and into a safer environment."

    February 8, 2011
    Dana Larsen calls for tax and warning labels on sugar sweetened beverages
    BC NDP Leadership candidate Dana Larsen pledged today to add a stiff tax and visual warning label to sugar sweetened beverages if he becomes Premier.
    "BC is in the midst of an obesity epidemic," said Larsen. "And a major contributor to obesity is overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages."
    Examples of SSBs include soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, plus fruit "punches" and "cocktails". Obesity related illnesses cost British Columbians over $450 million every year, and include cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. About 60% of adults and 29% of youth in BC are overweight or obese. Studies show that up to 20% of adult obesity is the direct result of SSB consumption.
    "A Health Protection Tax on sugar sweetened beverages has been recommended by many health bodies, including BC's Provincial Health Services Authority, Canada's Childhood Obesity Foundation, and the US Institute of Medicine," said Larsen. "A tax on SSBs has also been recommended by a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. I believe that such a tax is a good first step, but much more should be done."
    Larsen has outlined a seven-point plan to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and improve public health.
    1) Add a 25% tax to all sugar sweetened beverages.
    2) Use some of this tax revenue to launch an ad campaign to educate British Columbians about the health risks of SSBs. Put the rest into subsidizing the price of healthier food choices such as fruits and vegetables.
    3) Mandate visual warning labels to SSBs which clearly illustrate the health consequences of consuming these beverages. (Examples included in Backgrounder)
    4) Forbid using the term "juice" for beverages containing added sugar or sweetener.
    5) Ban the sale of soft drinks and SSBs in all publicly funded spaces (BC Ferries, Hospitals, Schools, Skytrain stations, etc).
    6) Ensure plentiful access to free, sanitary water fountains in all public places.
    7) Look at the potential benefits of similar warning labels for other harmful junk food products.
    "British Columbians shouldn't be subsidizing the hidden costs of sugar sweetened beverages," concluded Larsen. "As Premier I would ensure that consumers are made aware of the serious health consequences of these drinks on themselves and their children."
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    January 31, 2011
    Dana Larsen pledges to eliminate Skytrain fares
    BC NDP Leadership Candidate Dana Larsen today pledged to eliminate fares for using Skytrain if elected Premier. The proposal would bring funding of the regional Skytrain system into line with the those of local highways, through the provincial highways ministry.
    "As Premier, I would designate the Skytrain as part of BC's Highway system," said Larsen, "and then get rid of fares for users. We don't charge a tariff to use the road, and we shouldn't charge a tariff to use the Skytrain."
    “BC spends hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a free road system for car drivers," continued Larsen, "meanwhile Skytrain has a fare. The average lower-mainland resident must travel through two cities to get to work. Why should we selectively subsidize car travel, but not Skytrain?”
    Larsen received support for his call from Dave Olsen, an urban planner and researcher who has written extensively about the benefits of eliminating fares from public transit.
    “Cities from as far away as Belgium and as close as Washington state have eliminated transit fares, and saved millions on their road systems” said Olsen. “To me the choice is clear: on the one hand we have a cheap, clean and efficient train system, and on the other the daily gridlock on our roads and resulting smog in our skies. I am glad to see a politician standing up for common sense on transit.”
    When asked about the cost of fare-free Skytrain, Larsen explained that the proposal is designed to be revenue neutral.
    "We're not talking about increasing taxes, instead I would refocus our Provincial funding away from subsidizing car drivers, and move to a sustainable system of publicly funded Skytrain." said Larsen. “Going forward, we need to expand rapid-rail projects like Skytrain into the Fraser Valley, and also into the other larger centres around the province. The future of our cities is in rail.”

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