Sunday, May 4, 2014
Skeena MLA raises concerns over LNG Development planning
Skeena MLA Robin Austin, who has been the main point man on the topic addressed the lack of movement from the provincial government on a taxation regimen for the still in development industry, of concern to Mr. Austin, the timeline of the Province's delivery of that tax regimen and how he believes the Liberal Government has mis-handled the file.
Thanks to the member for Prince George–Mackenzie for bringing up this topic of LNG development. He started off his comments by saying that all the fundamentals are in place and he's very proud that his government has done that.
Unfortunately, the fundamentals are not in place, considering the amount of enthusiasm that the government has put into this LNG development. It was the government who set a date of last November for putting forward, at least into the public sphere, their ideas on what the tax regime should be. That didn't come about. Then they said that it would be in place by last year, December 31. That still didn't come about. Then, of course, we came back to the House here in February, after 200 days of the House not sitting, and we kind of all assumed on this side of the House that now, with a spring session coming and a budget being discussed, finally we would see the fiscal framework being brought into the Legislature here to be debated and to be passed. But that, again, has not happened.
We now await until the fall, apparently, to see what the fiscal framework will be. I think it's fair to say that most of the companies — and I happen to represent Kitimat, a place that has seen huge development and huge amounts of dollars being spent by the proponents — were also expecting this to have been dealt with by now in order for them to move forward and make decisions, huge decisions. Certainly, this has not been done. When you consider that the government has constantly been telling us that this is a very short window, that we've got to rush this thing through and we've got to get it done as quickly as possible, it seems very odd to me that they haven't been able to negotiate this and bring this into the Legislature. I would say, certainly at this point, the fundamentals are not in place.
The Skeena MLA also had some thoughts on how the Liberals have approached the issue of consultation with First Nations on LNG development and how that may impact on the Province's development plans.
It's also a little ironic to be discussing this topic just ten days after the government, I think, mishandled this file in a dramatic way. As we know, there was a First Nations LNG conference taking place in Fort Nelson just ten days ago. The day before that conference was due to have its main discussions, the government decided that they would pass an order-in-council exempting new sweet gas wells, which of course is 99 percent of all gas plants, from the EA process.
Now, the member for Prince George–Mackenzie pointed out a good example of where First Nations are going to benefit from any potential LNG development. But for the government to then try and remove any kind of production facility from the environmental process does, I think, a great deal of damage and actually has hurt the relationship between the government of British Columbia and First Nations, who are critical in this discussion. After all, it is in unceded territory that most of these proponents are planning on doing their development. I think including First Nations and treating them with respect is of utmost importance.
You can review the full exchange in the Legislature from the House archives for Monday, April 28th Morning session. (Mr. Austin's contribution begins just after the 1010 point on the archive timeline) .
As well the session is available for viewing from the Legislature Video Archive, his contribution to the theme arrives at the 10 minute mark of the video player.
For more on developments at the British Columbia Legislature see our Archive Page.
Posted by . at 4:11 PM