Prince Rupert dodged a bullet.
Well, one of two.
We did take a .22 to the shoulder when NDP candidate and Prince Rupert city councillor Jennifer Rice was elected by approximately 29 per cent of eligible North Coast voters — that’s okay, it’s only a flesh wound. A rookie opposition back-bencher is unlikely to do much damage.
More importantly, however, we managed to dodge the .45 magnum aimed right at our head when the B.C. Liberals defied the pundits and the pollsters by picking up their fourth-straight majority government.
As the ivory tower media, political prognosticators and party truth-spinners scratched their collective heads trying to figure out what the hell went wrong for the NDP, most people sitting at their kitchen table going through their bills already knew the answer.
It’s the economy stupid.
The province recognized that had the NDP won, we would have kissed goodbye billions of dollars worth of economic development, in particular, LNG export.
Unfortunately, some North Coast voters haven’t figured out yet, that in order to pay the pricetag associated with the lofty and noble environmental and social programs, money is needed.
Despite the hysteria and mistruth, economic development does not necessarily have to come at the expense of the environment.
In what appears to be the lowest-recorded turnout ever, and the fifth worst in the province as compared to the 2009 turnout, preliminary numbers from Elections B.C. indicate 51.27 per cent of North Coast voters cast a ballot, meaning of approximately 15,000 eligible voters, 4,340 voted for Ms. Rice.
This apathy is understandable and it’s not Jennifer’s fault. The NDP could have run a ham sandwich and won the North Coast riding — most voters believed it and stayed away or were unwilling to hold their nose long enough to make a choice.
However, now that the B.C. Liberals have their mandate, Prince Rupert can breathe a sigh of relief that while the Northern Gateway project is likely still a longshot, LNG terminals and hopefully a refinery will bring in the billions of dollars in economic prosperity the North Coast needs.
The North Coast needs the jobs and the revenues to undo decades of poverty and despair that eco-tourism just can’t fix.
Now that we have a government that supports developing LNG and should move forward on at least one of the THREE projects suggested for Prince Rupert, it’s time for the MLA-elect to make good on a promise.
During the election, Rice said she wasn’t against LNG — just how many. So, Jennifer, how about just picking one: Lelu Island, Ridley Island or Grassy Point.
Live up to your promise.
Even if 71 per cent of possible voters didn’t vote for you.