Horgan: Prince Rupert’s future a bright one

When I was in Prince Rupert two weeks ago, one thing was clear. The city had changed.

Editor:

When I was in Prince Rupert two weeks ago, one thing was clear. The city had changed. Just the prospect of LNG had clearly reinvigorated a community that had long been waiting for a new economic opportunity.

The vibrancy I felt in Prince Rupert is one of the many reasons why I support the development of B.C.’s LNG industry — done right.

Doing it right means protecting our air, land and water by measuring and controlling all greenhouse gas emissions, from wellhead to waterline. It means protecting our precious Skeena River salmon.

It means guarantees of jobs and training opportunities for British Columbians. It means ensuring that British Columbians get a fair return for their resource. It means that the people of Prince Rupert and the Northwest are the first in line to benefit from projects in their backyards.

And it means the industry respectfully involves First Nations as partners, and ensures they see direct benefits.

That’s why New Democrats have been taking tough stands with the B.C. Liberal government’s LNG plans. Not because we don’t acknowledge that LNG is a great opportunity for B.C. communities, but because we recognize we only have one chance to get this industry right.

Premier Christy Clark promised 100,000 LNG jobs, but now she’s signing agreements giving the industry the power to bring more temporary foreign workers into the province. Unlike traditional immigration, which brought so many of our families to this country, these are lower-wage workers on short-term contracts who won’t be given the chance to make a permanent life in our province.

New Democrats want to see the community of Prince Rupert thrive. We know that can’t happen if we’re planning for LNG camps instead of LNG communities.

That’s why I support an LNG industry where B.C. workers are first in line for jobs.

As for which projects will go forward, New Democrats recognize that’s something that the market, science and communities will decide. We have an abundant resource, and if it is managed right, we can see a number of plants move forward, not just in Prince Rupert, but in Kitimat and other willing communities.

I have met with all proponents over the past few years and they have candidly discussed with me the relative strengths and challenges of their plans. The NDP do not have a favourite horse in the race — I’d like to see all their projects built in Prince Rupert and Kitimat — subject to receiving EA approval and meeting the four conditions I have set out for our support.

The Northwest has all the right ingredients for a successful LNG industry. It’s filled with talented, hardworking people who are no strangers to resource development. Now, it’s up to the B.C. Liberal government to deliver on their promises. We’ve already seen them abandon their promise to build the cleanest LNG in the world, and we’re seeing them give up on local employment.

We can do better. More needs to be done to train northwest British Columbians for the LNG industry and more needs to be done to ensure communities like Prince Rupert have the infrastructure and services they need to play host to this industry. These are all elements within the current government’s control, and they are elements we need to be building today. It takes time to upgrade and improve housing, healthcare and education services; we can’t afford to wait until the last minute to make those investments.

If we don’t provide the infrastructure to make our LNG industry a success, we will be scuttling it before it even begins. That’s why New Democrats will continue to push for LNG development that gives the best deal to B.C. communities.

NDP leader John Horgan