…Three years ago the Premier told B.C. families that she would make B.C. a leader in private sector job creation. Three years later we’re No. 9. When it comes to LNG, three years ago she said we’d create 100,000 jobs, we’d eliminate the debt and we’d eliminate the sales tax. And where are we today? A throne speech two days ago that made no mention of the debt, made no mention of a prosperity fund, made no mention of eliminating the sales tax.
So when it comes to LNG — to the Premier — how can families take her seriously when she’s put British Columbians right where Petronas wants us? What can she say to British Columbians when she can’t deliver a tax bill to this House because Petronas hasn’t written it yet?
…The Premier also talked about opening up new mines. When I became Leader of the Official Opposition, I travelled to Tumbler Ridge. I don’t know if the Premier has been up there lately, but 750 workers — operating engineers and steelworkers — are no longer working in the mining sector in Tumbler Ridge. In fact, by the end of this year the only people working in the mining sector in Tumbler Ridge will be temporary foreign workers that the Premier supported in coming here.
It’s not just the mining sector. The Premier took the photo opportunity to be at a mill in Nanaimo to talk about jobs in the forest sector just before the last election. That very same mill in Nanaimo where the Premier stood and talked about growing the forest economy is shutting down. It’s closing.
…I asked her a question about mining and forestry, as mining executives and forestry executives and mine workers and forest workers have been doing for the past 18 months. What did they get back? Liquefied natural gas. There’s something else in British Columbia that’s driving the economy. It’s traditional industries that you’ve ignored at the expense of just one — just one pipedream.
We have four key points to support the development of LNG in this province, and that’s number one: ensuring jobs and training opportunities for British Columbians.
We want to ensure that development that takes place benefits the people in this province, that they get the skills and training they need to take advantage of those opportunities. That’s crucial, and that was missing in the throne speech.
In the throne speech it talked about the burgeoning middle class in China. You know what, Hon. Speaker? I couldn’t care less about the burgeoning middle class in China. What I care about is the declining middle class here in British Columbia. We need to stem that decline, and we do that by creating opportunities for British Columbians with the wealth that exists in this province. That’s what we need to be doing.
The second point that I want to raise in terms of the development of LNG and resources in general in this province is that we want to receive a fair return for those resources that belong to us, the people of British Columbia. A fair return for our resources…
We need to be realistic with British Columbians that LNG is not the be-all and end-all, but it can be part of a comprehensive strategy, not just in terms of a local industry but in terms of an industry that does export to parts of the world where our product is in demand.
…The other two points that, we believe, need to be important in terms of our development of LNG …are that First Nations are clearly respected and are partners and that we recognize their right to share in any benefits that flow from the resource.
…We want to see First Nations participate. But there are too many examples of First Nations who feel — not just feel, but who have found — that their rights, through court cases, have been ignored. Too many cases where they continue to not be consulted. Too many cases where they’re not partners. That must change…
The final point, I think. This part is also absolutely critical. That is: …all resource development protects our land, air and water…
One only has to look to the record of the government over the last several years in terms of deregulation and, where there is regulation, the lack of resources to enforce those regulations.
We’ve had the issues around Mount Polley, Lemon Creek and other rivers and streams in this province that have been impacted — in the case of Mount Polley, by a tailings dam collapse; in the case of other areas, significant spills that have caused significant environmental damage — issues relating to the state of our forests and our ability to even understand the nature of the inventory that we have in this province — the inspection of mines and how often they’re inspected.
We have not seen the necessary investments in those areas to do what either the government talks about…