Here are excerpts from Tom Fletcher’s year-end interview with NDP leader John Horgan. For the full interview, see the Opinion section of kelownacapnews.com.
Tom Fletcher: You’re at odds with Alberta’s NDP government on the approval of the Trans-Mountain oil pipeline expansion. Does that affect your co-operation with them?
John Horgan: No, I don’t think so. Quite the contrary. Rachel Notley was here [in early December]. We had a dinner meeting, we talked about the Trans Mountain pipeline. We agreed to disagree. She put forward her position of the government of Alberta, and I put forward my view that this was not in the interests of the B.C. economy or the B.C. environment, and then we moved on to talk about other things.
TF: I asked Rachel Notley this, obviously there is a big benefit from a construction project like that, and the premier talks about additional benefits being worked out between Kinder Morgan and the province. Obviously provincial resource revenues are off the table.
JH: If Kinder Morgan finds money in the kitty to give B.C. a dividend, we’ll deal with that when we see it. But at this point in time there is no constitutional reason for revenues to be shared, and only risk on the B.C. side that I can see.
TF: How does this pending pipeline construction and protests play in the 2017 election?
JH: I think we’re still a long way from a final result on this question. There are still First Nations issues in the Burrard Inlet area. I don’t know how we can overlook the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish opposition.
TF: On liquefied natural gas, minister Rich Coleman has hinted that there might be an announcement on the Petronas project, say April?
JH: I bet there will be.
TF: What do you expect there?
JH: I absolutely believe that Rich Coleman will ask his colleagues at Petronas to give him something he can say during an election campaign.
TF: And you’re against the Petronas proposal.
JH: I’m against the location. There were half a dozen companies that were reviewing Prince Rupert as a potential location, and every one of them came to a location that would probably have been acceptable to most people in the region, except Petronas. They took the only available site, Lelu Island, right beside Ridley Island, which is controlled by Shell now.
TF: Your $10-a-day daycare program is a rate that’s maybe a quarter or a fifth of market rates. In general, where does that money come from?
JH: It comes from growing the economy. And what the B.C. Business Council and the boards of trade have said in support of moving to accessible, affordable childcare is that it makes their workforce more productive, it creates more economic opportunity. You’re building the spaces, you’re training the providers of the service, and the economy grows as a result of that.
And so over time it pays for itself, academic literature shows that without any doubt. You look at examples like Quebec, where they have a lower fee [$7 a day] and there has been a benefit over time. But it doesn’t happen instantaneously, and it won’t be phased in instantaneously.
TF: We’ve already got a shrinking workforce, so you’re looking at this as more of a workforce measure?
JH: Absolutely. Now there is a social benefit to it, no doubt. It creates better-rounded kids, they socialize earlier, they’re better prepared to get into K-to-12 schooling, and the outcomes, one assumes, are going to be better as a result.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @tomfletcherbc