Wednesday, February 10, 2016

British Columbia Government holds to LNG ambitions, sets positioning points for year ahead

Lt. Governor Judith Guichon delivered
the Speech from the Throne on Tuesday
opening the Spring Session for the
British Columbia Legislature
The Spring session of the British Columbia Legislature received its blue print for the next few months, as Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon delivered the Speech from the Throne a document that holds fast to an LNG ambition for the province and remained focused on job creation.

If there are any t-shirt or bumper sticker proclamations from the opening address for 2016, the "Success isn't for quitters", "Getting to yes" and "Standing Up for BC" talking points will probably be the three main themes that are sure to get used much over the course of this year long foundation year for the election platforms of 2017.

The speech provided for a listing of the economic achievements and observations that the Christy Clark Liberal Government wishes to stress for the year, among the main points:

80 percent of the provinces unionized public service now covered by agreements under the Economic Stability Mandate.

Increases in trade and investment opportunities in China, India and an introduction of a new trade office in the Philippines.

The importance of the BC Tech sector to the province's BC Jobs Plan

A renewed focus on the British Columbia Agriculture and Seafood Industries

A dedication to removing red tape, calling on the 5,900 submissions from British Columbians that highlight where the province needs to remove needless rules as a starting point for their efforts to tackled the problem.

With a nod to global economic issues, the government noted that it will resist the temptation to spend its way out of any potential trouble.

The speech also provided a couple of shots at neighbouring Alberta, a province which the Christy Clark Government suggests has lost its focus.

Something which we imagine went over well with Premier Rachel Notley over in Edmonton, currently trying to deal with the impacts on her province coming from the troubled oil and gas sector these days.

However, for an overall take away from Tuesday's speech, we turn to British Columbia's LNG ambitions, which continue to hold the focus and make for the North Star for the provincial government.

Timelines may be shifting,
but the BC Government is holding
to their LNG ambitions
As the Government continues to highlight the list of the 20 active LNG projects that the province says are currently in various stages of development.

And while the Liberal's remain committed to their ambitious plan, they have it seems taken in some of the global news of recent months, noting that unforeseen global conditions are posing new challenges, with low global prices will have an impact on the government's initial time lines.

Still, the Speech highlighted the foundation that the Government has laid for an LNG industry, offering up the first of the Liberal's positioning statements for the year ahead of Success is not for quitters. Going further to expand how success will demand steadfast attention, and resiliency in the face of global challenges.

Should the LNG industry take root in the province, the Speech reminded the Legislature of the previously announced plan to establish a Prosperity Fund to leave an endowment for future generations of British Columbians, a financial mechanism that would pay down and eliminate debt and invest in the services and infrastructure that British Columbians rely on.

Climate and the environment carved out some space in the speech, with the Liberal's pointing to their LNG strategy as making a contribution to the dialogue on climate change and reducing global emissions.

First Nations engagement received a passage in the session opening document as well, with an admission that too often Government has failed to ensure that First Nations received their share of the benefits of a modern economy.

Pointing to the Tsawwassen First Nation as a community that is creating investment and jobs through a range of projects and developments as one example of where things are changing.

As well, the Government noted its investment in clean energy projects in 116 Aboriginal communities across the province.

The need for ongoing engagement with First Nations was highlighted by the Government's plans to host the third annual gathering of Cabinet and First Nations Leaders in the province.

The province also committed to working with partners in Ottawa when it comes to the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, as well as to work with local communities and First Nations to move forward with the five point action plan for safe transportation options along Highway 16.

Housing issues received a mention as part of the Speech as well, with the government outlining a number of themes related to addressing improper behaviour in the housing market, provide a better opportunity for British Columbians to enter the housing market and to highlight and reduce the hidden costs found at the municipal level, seeking to make those costs transparent to the home buyer.

The Troubled Ministry of Children and Family Development was also a focus of the document, with an observation that the Ministry has begun the work of responding to the Plecas Report, though the Government did lend support to the workers of that ministry, adding that there is a need to end the culture of blame that exists for those public servants in a difficult role.

Further plans related to the Ministry will be outlined in the weeks ahead as the Government looks at measures to further support both at-risk children and the province's social workers.

Public Service received a second shout out from the province as well, with the government's notes on the education sector the key aspect of that segment of the speech.

On education, the Government reviewed its past engagement with teachers to develop a new curriculum, new supports and the training that teachers need to bring the curriculum to life. As well, the speech made note of plans to address class composition, hire more teachers and continue the work on seismic upgrades to the province's schools.

The province also called attention to the success found at the negotiating table last year, noting that the teachers are among the 80 per cent of all unionized employees in the province now working under long-term labour agreements.

On Health Care, the speech also made a nod to labour peace and noted the plans to invest further in patient care and shifting needs in the health sector.

The final notes of the afternoon address of yesterday expanded on what seems to be the call to action  of the Clark Government through 2016, that of Standing Up for British Columbia.

Calling attention to the uncertain times for the global economy, the speech outlined the province's ongoing focus on Forestry  and Mining, two industries that have been feeling pressures in recent years and to which the government remains committed towards.

The Provincial Government is all in on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which it believes will create enormous opportunities for British Columbia, and stressed its desire to work with all members of the Legislature  to ensure the province speaks with one voice. With the Government positioning itself as the champions of Yes, noting that Getting to Yes on economic development does not mean cutting corners, or bowing to external pressures.

In an interesting approach to a concept normally attributed to the opposition NDP, the Liberal's laid some claim to the term of Social Licence, noting how the process means working with communities to ensure that their concerns are addressed and with proponents to address them.

With those observations, the speech then turned to focus on the Government's renewed dedication towards its Five Conditions for heavy oil pipelines, and how that policy will ensure that any proposal achieves regulatory approval, as well as to ensure that the province has world-leading spill response for the coast and the land, making sure that First Nations are participants and to ensure that British Columbia receives its fair share.

You can review the full text of the speech here.

The main points of Tuesday's address will provide for much of the direction that the Spring Session of the Legislature follows, as the Liberal Government balances reacting to the changing global economic picture and striving to keep some of their major industrial concepts on track.

All of it of course, charting a course towards an election campaign of 2017, where the conditions found through this year could make for much of the backdrop to what will be the election themes in one years time.

The Legislature begins its travels through the Spring Session as they return to their daily business with the start of today's session.

Some of the observations from the province's political correspondents can be reviewed below.

B. C. Liberals lay foundation for election with Throne Speech, balanced budget
B. C. Liberals pledge action on 'shadow flipping' by province's realtors
B. C. Cities to disclose hidden fees for home buyers
B. C. Housing scheme takes aim at municipal governments
B. C. Liberals stay the course in throne speech
Suddenly, Premier Clark has had enough of Metro Vancouver's real estate scams
Debt Free, Gas Powered BC Still Coming, Throne Speech Vows
Throne speech focus on fuel, food
Shadow flipping of homes to be probed

For more items related to the Legislature see our archive page here.

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