|Interim Leader Rich Coleman raised NDP view|
on LNG, making the North Coast a good portion
of the theme for his discussion
Still adjusting to the their new status as the Opposition in the Legislature, Liberal MLA's used a narrative of declining economic fortunes to guide their review of the first sixty days of NDP rule in BC, with the fading opportunities of LNG making for a fair bit of the discussion for Interim Liberal leader Rich Coleman.
Mr. Coleman made frequent mention of increasing disappointment as part of his Response to the Throne Speech on Tuesday morning, and high among that theme of disappointment was how the now cancelled Pacific NorthWest LNG project is being viewed both in BC and beyond, a project cancellation which Coleman suggested can be linked to the change of government.
Not dwelling much on the NDP overview of the summer as to how market forces had given Petronas cause to rethink their plans, or the proclamations of NDP support for the industry, the interim Liberal leader instead suggested that the contributions of the now Premier and Energy Minister, who in their roles as opposition members during the environmental review process had much to do with with Pacific NorthWest's eventual decision to abandon the project.
As part of his expansive narrative, Coleman called attention to a March 2016 submission to the CEAA process by the then opposition NDP, observing as to how he saw it as showing their opposition to the project.
An engagement on the file that Coleman says sent a message to the project proponents and provided a chill over the development of the industry and resulted in the loss of the potential for thousands of jobs.
"The uncertainty is around a number of things. I know for a fact that this letter that I have on my desk here, which was sent to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on March 10, 2016 was sitting at a boardroom of five major companies trying to make a final investment decision on a project that would have brought tens of thousands of jobs to B.C..
These guys needed something from British Columbia. They needed support, to be able to get a permit that shouldn't take four years, but in twelve moths so they could change the location of a jetty.
The risk of time was so significant, in the billions of dollars, they they put that project on hold.
By the way, the letter opposing the project to the Canadian Assessment Environmental Assessment Agency, written on March 1, 2016, that was on the table, was signed by the now Premier and the now Minister of Environment"
The letter that Mr. Coleman pointed towards can be found here, part of the large inventory of submissions that were delivered to the CEAA as part of there overview of the PNW LNG project at the time.
In that document, Mr. Horgan and Mr. Heyman, outline how the then Official Opposition caucus had four key criteria that the Pacific NorthWest LNG project had to meet, and how in their view the project did not meet the condition of concern for First Nations objections.
As part of their concluding comments at that time, the NDP members urged the CEAA to withhold its final approval for the project.
While the CEAA approved the Pacific NorthWest project in September of 2016, the Malaysian energy giant Petronas announced the cancellation of PNW LNG in July of this year.
The Liberal MLA used the NDP's interjection into the CEAA process as part of an expanded review of how they are handling other energy related projects such as Kinder-Morgan and Site C.
Suggesting to the Legislature that the NDP is dismissing the environmental oversight in place in Canada if a result is delivered that the NDP doesn't like.
"The actual opposition to things like Kinder Morgan sends an international message not just about investment. No, no, it sends another message, that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which is responsible for the best environmental processes in the world.
This NDP government will not accept those processes or that decision-making.
A statutory decision made by the federal government after bureaucrats put in tens of thousands of hours looking at everything from fisheries to routing, to First Nations relationships and everything else And backed up by an environmental back-up assessment by the British Columbia government and also signed off by statutory officers.
They're saying today that our environmental processes in this country are no good if they come to British Columbia."
To further his view on how the first sixty days of the NDP's time in office as progressed, he observed of the billions of dollars that have been left on the sidelines now destined for elsewhere in the world, with no plans to invest in British Columbia owing to growing uncertainty on the NDP's plans ahead.
Now on the opposition side of the debate, Coleman recounted his time as Deputy Premier and LNG Minister and the many trips taken to the North coast.
Highlighting for the Legislature the lengthy negotiations with local First Nations governments and the economic opportunities that leaders in Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams had been looking forward to receive, as well as the expanding training programs that had been put in place to prepare for the arrival of LNG.
Suggesting that what has been left by the turn of events when it comes to LNG for the North Coast is that of a feeling of frustration and sadness.
To expand on those themes, Coleman recalled some of his conversations while on the North Coast and how residents, particularly those who are young and how they had been looking forward to the training that they had been offered and the potential for jobs that might follow.
Coleman went on to question the NDP belief that First Nations are opposed to development of the LNG industry, observing that the government needs to go to First Nations communities and hear of their desire for economic development and jobs for their residents.
The transcript of Mr. Coleman's commentary to the Legislature can be reviewed here starting at just before the 1050 AM portion of the day.
You can review the full response to the Throne Speech from the Liberal MLA as part of the Legislature Video Archive for Tuesday, Mr. Coleman's comments begin at 10:50 AM of the morning session, you can view his contribution to the debate from the Chamber Video link.
For more on issues and commentary related to the North Coast in the Legislature see our Legislature archive page here.
Further background on politics in British Columbia can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee.