You would think that the elected leader of a province and a former cabinet minister would have some understanding of how negotiations work, but the latest happenings in Christy Clark’s push for liquefied natural gas development have shown just how clueless she is.
You see, a big part of negotiating is not letting the other party know just how badly you want/need what it is they are offering. It’s pretty simple, really, if the person you’re dealing with knows you’ve staked your future on what they’re offering, then they hold all the cards.
That is exactly what is happening right now with the development of LNG terminals on the North Coast. Before coming up with any solid tax plan or financial policy related to the industry, Clark was touring around the province talking about how LNG would be the saviour of B.C.
LNG would eliminate the province’s debt, would fund a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, would contribute $1-trillion in gross domestic product by 2046 and would create 75,000 full-time jobs for generations of British Columbians. And these weren’t just off-the-cuff remarks, these were remarks made in a Throne Speech last year.
So with the importance of the LNG industry plainly laid out on the record of the Legislature, industry is absolutely right to come out swinging and looking for the best deal possible. The reality is if B.C. doesn’t work out for the LNG industry, they have a lot of options, but if the LNG industry doesn’t work out for B.C. there is no Plan B.
So Premier Clark better come up with something magnificent if she wants any terminal to be operating by 2020, let alone the three terminals she projected in that exact same Throne Speech.
But even if she can make something happen, I don’t think there is anyway she can escape this whole fiasco without a whole bunch of egg on her face.
True leaders don’t give away their bargaining position before negotiations have even begun.