Project development agreement sells out British Columbians, says MLA Rice

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is making it clear the project development agreement being proposed is not one she is willing to support.

As the Legislature debates the Project Development Agreement associated with Pacific NorthWest LNG’s terminal on Lelu Island, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is making it clear the deal being proposed is not one she is willing to support.

At the heart of her opposition are the length of the guaranteed tax regime, the lack of a requirement for local employment or purchases and concerns around First Nations engagement and inclusion.

“This project development agreement is a good deal for the proponents — namely, Petronas — but it’s not a good deal for British Columbians. With a very pompous, obsessional LNG election campaign, the Premier of this province has put us in a very poor negotiating position. She’s locked us into a 25-year deal at a time when natural gas prices are at historic lows. The deal contains zero job guarantees for British Columbians — zero. The deal gives foreign-owned corporations special lower tax rates through the natural gas tax credit and guarantees them for 25 years. This is a better deal than everyone else who is doing business in British Columbia and paying their fair share of taxes. In the meantime, British Columbia households are hit with increases year after year in MSP, B.C. Hydro rates, ICBC premiums and more. Wouldn’t we all like our taxes locked in and guaranteed at a low rate for 25 years?,” she said in the Legislature on Monday

“The Premier has sold out B.C. families and B.C. workers for political purposes. We support the development of LNG for B.C. We have always said it needs to meet the conditions of a fair return to British Columbians, who own the resource — jobs for every British Columbian ready to work or train; protection for our land, air and water; and true partnerships with First Nations. The LNG project development agreement enabling act does not meet any of these conditions. That is why I stand here and object to this generational sellout of a deal. I want to see my community and the communities I represent thrive. I want to see British Columbians prosper without tremendous expense to the environment. I want to see First Nations respected and treated as true partners, not as an engagement box to check off in the appendix of an agreement.”

However, Pacific NorthWest LNG president Michael Culbert said the priority will be to ensure that jobs associated with the facility will be coming to people on the coast.

“This LNG project is a great opportunity for British Columbia and Canada based on job creation and economic opportunities. Our facility alone is expected generate up to 4,500 jobs during peak construction, as well as up to 330 long-term careers in operations and another 300 spin off jobs in the local communities. Our commitment is to hire as many local, British Columbian and Canadian workers as possible to support our facility in both construction and operations,” he said.

“To fulfill this objective, we are working with a number of associations, educational providers, and working groups to help prepare the BC workforce for upcoming job opportunities; this includes the Premier’s Working Group on LNG, which is comprised of representatives from the Province, other proponents, First Nations, labour organizations, and key stakeholders.”

While she will be opposing the project development agreement, Rice said it is not indicative of opposition to the industry as a whole.

“We can do better. I believe we can do better. We support resource development. We support the development of an LNG industry as part of a diversified, value-added, modern economy. We support access to training and post-secondary education so that people get the opportunity to participate in this economy to the best of their ability,” she said in the Legislature.

“I welcome the investment in Port Edward, Prince Rupert and B.C. by developing an LNG industry. But LNG has to come with job guarantees, a fair return for our resource, real partnerships with First Nations, and protection for our air, land and water. Christy Clark sold us out with this deal … thus I have opposed this deal in its current form,” she added in an email to the Northern View.

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