B.C. government AWOL on just about everything but LNG

Sometimes it feels like British Columbia doesn’t really have a premier.

Whenever there’s big news in this province, Christy Clark can’t seem to be found. Think back to the Mount Polley mining disaster last summer, or to the Vancouver oil spill this spring. On both occasions Premier Clark was AWOL, nowhere to be seen or heard at these moments of urgency and concern for the citizens she is supposed to serve.

This glaring absence of leadership in B.C. was again evident last week when it was announced that the ‘No’ side had won the Lower Mainland transit referendum – a drawn-out, ill-conceived and doomed plebiscite that was the premier’s idea.

On the day that news broke voters had rejected a hike in the PST to pay for necessary transit services and infrastructure, it was left to Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson to address the media. It was a listless performance by Robertson, forced to admit there was no “Plan B” for transit funding. He gently noted that the ball was back in the provincial government’s hands.

Robertson and his fellow mayors should have been more strident: the referendum was a fiasco from the beginning, the wrong issue to put to voters and the wrong proposed funding mechanism. No other big infrastructure projects have been put to plebiscite in B.C. and – whether it’s new bridges, highway expansion or hospital renovations – they are funded out of general government revenues. The bureaucratic mess that is Translink was foisted on the mayors by the B.C. government; local governments should demand a return to local control over transit and a serious commitment of provincial funding. All of this to say the next time you’re stuck in traffic think of Premier Clark, who gave us this referendum and then bailed out, while others invested months of campaigning and political capital.

Premier Christy Clark at a press conference announcing another LNG agreement. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Russell

Premier Christy Clark at a press conference announcing another LNG agreement. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Russell

Clark’s latest absence has been noticed. Stephen Quinn wrote in The Globe and Mail on Friday, “Where is the Premier? This was, after all, her baby. But 28 hours after the result of the vote was announced she remains MIA.” As of July 5, B.C. had still heard nothing from their premier. Her Twitter account had been dormant since July 1 (not even an emergency evacuation of Port Hardy due to a forest fire could rouse her to communicate via social media with British Columbians.)

Although this pattern of disappearing at key moments is longstanding, it’s worth pointing out that Clark has more reason to hide from the media and public than ever. Calls for an inquiry into the 2012 firings by her government’s Health Ministry have been growing for the past month. Finally, last week, the B.C. Liberals conceded that there needed to be more scrutiny on these firings and their tragic aftermath. Health Minister Terry Lake announced that the provincial Ombudsperson will be looking into the matter, still well short of the public inquiry that’s needed.

We don’t know when Christy Clark will finally reappear, but we can be sure she’ll show up on July 13, when the B.C. Legislature opens for a rare summer session. The agenda is limited to LNG, the premier’s favourite topic, with the government pushing through their latest sweetheart royalty agreement with Malaysia’s Petronas. The deal was announced despite a resounding rejection of the project by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation.

In past legislative sessions, only Green MLA Andrew Weaver has voted against the government’s LNG plans. But now the deal is worse than ever for B.C., effectively letting a foreign company take the resource for next to nothing because global gas prices are down and supply is way up. Numerous reports suggest the B.C. Liberals’ much hyped “trillion dollar” LNG boom will never come close to happening.

Christy Clark often seems more like B.C.’s LNG-booster-chief than the premier. John Horgan and the NDP should stand up to her on this file too, and rethink and reverse their past practice of going along with Clark’s LNG pipedreams. The expansion of fracking is unacceptable environmentally and the whole industry is disastrous for the climate. Besides, why help her give away the store when there’s so little in it for B.C.?

There are signs the NDP might be ready to take a tougher stand on Clark’s LNG folly. Horgan has become fond of telling the story of legendary Saskatchewan NDP Premier Tommy Douglas emerging from a meeting with foreign oil executives and telling the press there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that the oil companies were leaving Saskatchewan. The good news? “They’re leaving the oil behind.”

2 thoughts on “B.C. government AWOL on just about everything but LNG

  1. Never believe the hype that the conservatives spin you (Christy Clark, John Weston, and Jordan Sturdy, all conservatives wearing the “little L” liberal moniker).

    Anyone who thinks that there is any decent tax revenue for our province, is incorrect. So even the ignorant “greed” reasoning is incorrect. You see (perhaps due to “contributions”) the LNG folks get a sweetheart deal: Zero taxes will be paid until ALL of the LNG Frackers infrastructure has been paid for. And by the way, that’s billions and billions of dollars of infrastructure. So, no taxes for perhaps a decade or two and even then, after all the waiting, the taxes will be around 3%. Let me say that again, it’s 3% ONLY.
    When I buy a beer or a bottle of wine, the tax “I” have to pay is about 75% tax. Income tax is around 40%, corporate tax is close behind. Why is an environment destroying enterprise worth 3% tax to the state, and something benign like wine or beer is taxed at 75%??? Easy, the lobby for oil and gas has “teeth” and when they “contribute” money into the greedy hands of “possibly treasonous, likely dishonorable, politicians, it has impact. Plain and simple.

    And Jobs???? Seriously???
    Sure, there will jobs for “Non-Canadians” who are LNG-Construction-Experts brought in to provide a combo of “expertise” and at the same time a huge source of cheap labor. That’s in the contracts from what I’ve read, so BC citizens should be very wary about “any” jobs numbers being quoted by “The Deceivers” Crusty, Johnny, or Jordan. Frankly, I would like to see any of them admit to how much money they’ve received from the Oil and Gas Lobby? So, basically, there are more jobs in the cleanup fifty years down the line, than there will be any where else. Sorry to burst your bubble “revenue talkers” but there’s insignificant tax revenue and insignificant jobs numbers as well. It’s a terrible deal from every angle, excepting the “angle” of “support for LNG generated from receiving money from the oil and gas lobby”, lol.

    Has anyone seen the pictures of the earth from space recently??? Probably not. Have a look. The planet appears peppered with fires burning at night that you can see from space. The fires are from all the LNG burning. And look at the planet during the day, and it appears “generally brown” whereas in previous years it looked blue and green. Now we’re brown.

    And all the igno’rants’ can do is talk about money or cars or trucks. Cars can run on electricity and large trucks can run on Hydrogen – right now.

    Perhaps the pro-planetary-annihilation crowd isn’t actually “Evil”, perhaps they’re just willfully ignorant and have low IQs… It’s only our fault if we listen to them or give anything that comes out of their ignorant mouths credence… We should always endeavor to educate them, regardless of the fact that 99% of them are “lost causes”…

  2. She is a friggin gas bag along with Coleman ,Bennett and the Boy’s. How did she ever get any women to work for her or the party? Blackmail I suspect

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