Guest View: Empty promises are disappointing, dangerous

Opinion-editorial written by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice on the federal approval for the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal

Federal approval for the Pacific Northwest LNG project does little more than shine a light on Christy Clark and her empty promises. Clark promised British Columbians that before long the LNG industry would employ 100,000 people, that there would be $100 billion dollar prosperity fund, and that the proceeds would solve all our problems. But here we are four years later and despite all those promises, Christy Clark has failed to produce an LNG industry at all.

Choosing Lelu Island to house the PNW LNG project has been fundamentally problematic from the get go. Had the Provincial government listened to the people who live in the Skeena watershed and north coast, as well as peer-reviewed science there would be far less opposition and division in relation to this project. People want jobs and prosperity but not at the expense of salmon and the environment. These things are not mutually exclusive, at least they don’t have to be.

The amount of conflict created by Christy Clark’s pitting of one First Nation and community against another is disturbing. She doesn’t care about the communities and First Nations who live in the Northwest. Nor does she care about protecting the environment and salmon habitat. All she seems to care about is trying to make good on grandiose 2013 election promises that LNG is the goose to lay all our golden eggs – and she can’t even do that.

Let me be clear, New Democrats have long supported the development of an LNG industry in B.C., but we’ve always insisted that any development must include the express guarantee of jobs and training opportunities for British Columbians – something that wasn’t committed to when the project development agreement (PDA) for this deal was passed in the BC legislature with the BC Liberal majority. We must also get a fair return for our resources but this project doesn’t see benefits for decades within the PDA. Christy Clark likes to talk a lot about jobs and benefits for British Columbians but she failed to guarantee any of this when it came to signing the deal with Petronas. She says one thing and does another. Any deal must benefit and include First Nations in a meaningful way — these are not just words to say but is now the law and not doing so creates risks, delays, years of expensive court cases and tremendous stress on communities. We also must live up to our climate change commitments and protect our land, air and water for ourselves, future generations and the economy. The notion that LNG will replace coal use in international jurisdictions is a myth. No Nation has committed to stop burning coal if we sell them our natural gas.

With another election around the corner, how far will Christy go to get a deal in place?

It’s clear Christy Clark’s first priority is her own political future. I don’t think anyone doubts that she will sell out British Columbia families in order to get a deal signed before the Spring election.

British Columbians need real, lasting sustainable jobs now by investing in renewable energy, transit, infrastructure and high tech. Not more empty promises.

 

Jennifer Rice

MLA – North Coast