Saturday, February 24, 2018

Green's Weaver puts focus on Northwest development as part of Budget Response

Green Party Leader offered up a number of themes for discussion in his
near two hour response to the Budget on Wednesday, a portion of his
address included notes related to the Green's view of LNG and other development

With the NDP having laid out their Budget plans for the Legislature on Tuesday afternoon, the document will now make for a source of much material for MLA's through the next few weeks as the Opposition members and those on the government outline some of their thoughts on the agenda ahead as provided by the Horgan government.

One of the first to provide for the talking points on the Budget has been the Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, his three member caucus is at the moment the life line for the NDP government, so much of his commentary has echoed some of the themes of Ms. James presentation and for the most part the majority of that response has been favourable.

The Green leader however, did take some shots at his new acquaintances on the government side, taking aim at areas of the budget such as housing and health care, which he suggested the NDP had been timid in approach.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Weaver dug in to the Legislature trenches and provided for a lengthy dissertation on budgetary observations, as well as a range of commentary on how the previous Liberal government had ignored a number or areas of concern to the Greens.

And while the length of his presentation at just under two hours, might suggest that you wouldn't want to be stuck in an elevator with loquacious leader of the Greens (let alone have to provide for the official transcript afterward), his ability to rattle off point after point and knock down many of the conventional beliefs from both parties does make for some fascinating oratory. 

Some of the observations from Wednesday took aim at what Mr. Weaver called the fallacy of LNG, suggesting that putting so much focus on development of the LNG industry in the Northwest, the previous Liberal government had ignored a number of other opportunities.

Again, we didn't want a vision of hope grounded in a fallacy of LNG. A vision of hope grounded in what we are good at. The previous government rattled on incessantly about 100,000 jobs, a $100 billion prosperity fund, a $100 trillion increase in GDP, the elimination of PST, thriving schools and hospitals — those unicorns in all our backyards. Literally each and every one of us would be happy and have Maseratis.

We're all happy but not because of LNG. The government, in sending that signal…. That was their vision. It was a vision that was desperate. It was a Hail Mary pass in an election campaign that nobody thought they would win. They caught the touchdown. They tried to deliver the impossible. The result is colossal failure. The result is 4½ years of sitting there in a time-out.

The majority of Mr. Weaver's focus seemed to stop at the western limits of the City of Terrace, with the bulk of his LNG observations and notes on future development for other industry limited to the impact to that city and Kitimat.

But the fact that the former minister has the gall and the audacity to come to this House and still talk about natural gas is mind-boggling. Honestly, if there was justice in this society, the member for Langley East would resign. 

He would resign because he failed. He failed — a very, very serious failure because he sent this province in a direction that misled Terrace, Kitimat, people in northern British Columbia who invested in the creation of hotels, people who invested in hotels in Terrace that are empty, people who invested in new housing in Kitimat that's empty. People who've been told this, that and the other — that we're all going to get LNG — are empty.

Those people in education systems across British Columbia who were told that they better start preparing for the LNG economy and train all those people to deliver LNG were failed. This is a colossal failure of public policy in British Columbia, which is the reason why this government needs to sit in time-out for a full 4½ years, as they rediscover who they are and what they stand for, because LNG did not happen, will not happen. 

Frankly, I was the only person in this Legislature, since 2012, pointing out the fiscal folly of sending a signal to market that was so irresponsible that it actually lost opportunities in British Columbia that we could now be leaders in.

While calling the LNG plans of the previous Liberals as reckless, the Green Party leader highlighted other resource options that could be see the province combine the resource sector and tech sector together to take advantage of the Port of Prince Rupert, offering up the prospect of automobile factories and other large scale investments as something that one day could be pursued.

Rather than chase to the bottom, which the B.C. Liberals tried to do with their reckless approach to LNG, we need to be smarter. We need to bring our tech sector together with our resource sector, to actually ensure that when we extract our resources, we do so in a smarter, more efficient way. Efficiency is where we're going to get it — efficiency and cleaner ways. 

 That's why companies like MineSense, B.C.-based companies, need our support as they bring new technologies right to the rock face, which can allow us to actually compete in the extraction of resources, as well as the selling of secondary resources. 

This is why we should be looking at a place like Terrace. Terrace in British Columbia. What is the strategic strength of Terrace? It's on a rail line between Prince Rupert — the gateway to Asia, with an amazing deep-water port there — and Chicago, the gateway to eastern U.S. 

We seem to think that what Terrace should be is a service centre for a non-existent LNG port in Kitimat. But no, what Terrace can recognize as a strategic strength is that we should be getting the companies like BMW, which set up shop in Washington, to build their factories in Terrace, where they have access to the rest of the world, where they have access to a stable, skilled workforce that they can attract and retain because of the quality of the environment that we can offer and the quality of life we can offer.

The length of his commentary clearly attracted some attention from the Liberal party members, who challenged some of his themes and tone of discussion with frequent interruptions as the clock ticked on, something which Mr. Weaver, who seemed to enjoy the role of that guy who gets under their skin, took note of.

"It's wonderful that the Liberals got all feisty here. It's about time. ... 

My only wish is that Hansard is able to record the banter coming from opposite, because it would be quite delightful."

Some political observers might suggest that it's somewhat unlikely that the Northwest may soon become an industrial force of secondary production and the new home for BMW production, but the commentary certainly offered up a different vision at to how the region could be developed, reaching beyond the extraction of resources, or its status as but a shipping point between Asia and North America.

Though as has been the case with previous plans through the years, much of that focus seems concentrated on the Kitimat-Terrace axis as the main location for any expanded industrial footprint.

You can review the full Budget response from Mr. Weaver through the Legislature video feed for Wednesday afternoon, the Green Party leader's stem-winder of a presentation starts at the 15:05 PM minute mark,  the majority of the Northwest focus comes in at the 16:30 mark.

The transcript of his full remarks can be found from the Hansard pages for Wednesday's session starting at 15:05.

For more items of interest from the Legislature, see our twin archives of notes related to the two Northwest MLA's in the House.


North Coast

A wider overview of the political scene from Victoria is available on our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

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1 comment:

  1. And what powers those BMW you twit. What powers the factories? And this guy thinks lng is dead. Hahahaha.