Letter to the Editor: LNG devil is in the details

LNG deal is an example of what elections are about. They give politicians the capacity to enact laws undreamt of at the time of the election

Editor:

Our provincial government is holding up the 25-year liquefied natural gas deal recently approved as an achievement which will serve our long-term economic interests.

It is a done deal, but it nonetheless merits closer examination. We need to reflect on it even though we do not have the power to do anything about it. The LNG deal is an example of what elections are all about. Elections give those we elect the capacity to enact laws undreamt of at the time of the election.

The Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act (LNGPAA) is an unassuming piece of legislation comprised of just 10 sections, including definitions.

What should be of most interest to citizens about that legislation is the absence of any reference to employment yet having a commitment to exempt LNG projects from a critical regulation.

Are the laws under which businesses are established and operated in this province not adequate to facilitate a liquefied natural gas project?

During the last election liquefied natural gas was promoted as a great job creator for citizens, not as a safe investment opportunity for shareholders. If we are going to provide legal protection from tax and other cost increases for shareholders, why not provide equal protection for citizens?

The LNGPAA allows the government to enter into agreements to “provide to a person an indemnity respecting the amount of additional tax paid by the person in the event of a tax law change, and the person’s direct costs of complying with a greenhouse gas regulatory change” (Sec. 2). The reference to “a person” includes corporations which are recognized in law as persons.

Any amount due to a corporation pursuant to this section “must be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund” (Sec. 6).

The consolidated revenue fund consist of what politicians like to refer to as “taxpayers’ dollars” when debating a benefit for flesh-and-blood persons.

If citizens in their capacity as taxpayers are to provide financial guarantees to a corporation, would it not be reasonable for that corporation to provide employment and wage guarantees in exchange?

A provision of greater long-term consequences than the LNGPAA’s 25-year provision is Sec. 4 which exempts any LNG project from parts of section 72 of the Financial Administration Act.

Subsection 3 provides that an indemnity or guarantee given under “any other Act by or on behalf of the government” must comply with all government regulations. Agreements negotiated under the authority of the LNGPAA are exempt from this obligation.

Subsection 8 provides that the Minister of Finance must, after the beginning of each fiscal year, present “a report respecting the guarantees and indemnities” approved by the government to the Legislative Assembly.

LNPGAA agreements are exempt from this obligation as well. In other words, however much “taxpayers’ dollars” future governments may have to pay to an LNG corporation during the terms of an agreement is none of your (or my) business.

Twenty years ago James Laxer, a political science professor at York University, published In Search of a New Left: Canadian Politics after the Neoconservative Assault. He cautioned readers that “[t]he unprecedented separation of capital from the control of the nation-state is a cornerstone of the harsh new capitalism of our era.” He went on to note that “[a]ll specific questions in our politics – globalization, competitiveness, the deficit, unemployment, taxation and the welfare state – are really debates about equality versus inequality.”

The LNGPAA is an example of what Laxer was writing about a generation ago. This LNGPAA is an example of how easily, in the harsh new capitalism of our era, a political promise of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” can emerge post-election as a financial guarantee of “taxpayers’ dollars” payable to global corporate interests.

We would do well in future elections to reflect on the difference between ideology and philosophy before marking our ballot.

Andre Carrel

Terrace

 

Just Posted

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

VIDEO: Third Annual Fun Run

The Prince Rupert Runners Club held its third annual fun run Sunday

Prince Rupert Rampage come up short in Terrace

River Kings beat the Rampage 4-3 in overtime Saturday night

WEB POLL: Where are you getting your clean water?

Prince Rupert is under a boil water advisory for possibly a week, or longer

RCMP ask public to help find missing Prince Rupert man

Binh Tran has been missing since December 11

Grocery stores run out of water in Prince Rupert

Video on the boil water advisory, where to call, and where to find bottled water

Shop Prince Rupert is back

These businesses are all taking part in the Shop Prince Rupert event until December 21 at noon

Canada’s robust credit rating should calm unease about federal deficits: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canada’s long-running triple-A rating means experts have confidence in his government’s approach to the economy

CIBC shrinks event after Whistler mayor irks oil producers

After Whistler sent a letter to a Calgary-based oilsands giant, several energy firms said they would back out of the CIBC event.

Couple caught up in B.C. Legislature bomb plot to learn their fate

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested as part of an undercover RCMP sting on Canada Day 2013

Trial rights of accused spy for China at risk, lawyer tells Supreme Court

The lawyer for a man accused of trying to spy for China says federal foot-dragging over secrecy is endangering his client’s right to timely justice.

‘Recall fatigue’: Canadians may avoid certain foods over holidays

In the winter, Canada’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables tends to come from very specific areas.

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Most Read