The throne speech opening B.C.’s 39th legislature may have been short on substance, but it did make it abundantly clear that the B.C. Liberals see natural gas exports as the source of the province’s future prosperity.
The B.C. Conservative party was quick off the mark to label this a “We’re gonna win a lottery” throne speech, while NDP leader Adrian Dix said it’s a sign that the Liberals have given up on other sectors of the economy, like forestry, film, high tech and tourism. Rather than convince the province with reasoned arguments that LNG exports would be safe and profitable despite the vagaries of the volatile fuel market, the throne speech instead held out tantalizing, but unsubstantiated, hints about what could be done with all that money.
Reducing the provincial debt topped the list, along with improvements to social services, investment in education and infrastructure, and the biggest carrot, the elimination of provincial sales tax.
The ideas outlined in the throne speech, of course, only apply if the Liberals are re-elected. An NDP government could overturn the whole concept of B.C. becoming a leading exporter of LNG to the energy hungry Asian markets.
But should they? There is substance to the concept of exploiting one of the province’s biggest assets. If not now, when? While, as the NDP suggest, supporting existing economic drivers is a primary goal, expanding the province’s economic base should also be on the agenda.
What we need is an intelligent approach to bringing B.C. LNG to the world market. As with the province’s five requirements for the Enbridge pipeline, we need a plan to ensure safe production and transport as well as a sound fiscal plan to ensure the province profits, both in tax revenue and job creation.
What we don’t need are hints and stock platitudes intended to entice votes, but rather a substantive plan for B.C.’s future.