Mungall says throne speech all show, no substance
Nelson-Creston MLA, Michelle Mungall says the throne speech offered up earlier this week by the governing Liberals contained a lot of show but had little of substance for British Columbians or Kootenay residents.
The throne speech, delivered on Tuesday by Lieutenant Governor, Judith Guichon focused mainly on the provincial government’s vision for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, and its plans to create a legislative framework over the next year to develop the industry in the province.
Mungall says the fact that the government is holding a fall sitting of the legislature – the first such sitting in three years – and their focus on the LNG agenda shows Christy Clark and the Liberals are scrambling to develop regulations and plans for the industry in the face of pressure from a major project proponent.
“I’m worried British Columbia is showing up late to dinner on this and we’re going to lose out on the potential to do this right,” Mungall said.
“LNG is a new industry and it requires strong regulations and environmental protection, particularly around water. And it needs to benefit British Columbians. Being so late to dinner on this, the Liberals are at a point where they seem to be backed into a corner by Petronas to give the whole store away.”
Mungall is referring to the fact that Malaysian energy giant, Petronas, which is planning a multibillion-dollar LNG export facility near Prince Rupert, chose the opening day of the legislature on Monday to publicly state it could delay development for a decade unless it can reach agreements around cost and environmental oversight with the province by the end of the month.
The NDP MLA also noted that the last throne speech given in February, 2014 the government made promises of 100,000 jobs and an elimination of the provincial debt – but there was no mention of these jobs or elimination of the debt in the recent throne speech, nor any talk of progress made on these items – or any of the other promises for that matter.
“All the big promises of a violence-free BC and a debt-free BC, they weren’t there again,” she says.
“There certainly wasn’t an update on any of the deliverables that should have been there because of these slogans. There were a lot of big promises, a lot of sloganeering but when the rubber hits the road, Christy Clark and her Liberals aren’t delivering.”
In an interview after the speech, Clark told the Canadian Press that she is focused on the task at hand, and not on repeating promises about LNG and its potential benefits to the province.
Mungall added that the government’s focus on the LNG industry also does little for residents of the Kootenays because the bulk of the benefits will go to Northern B.C. where the industry is focused.
“It might have some benefits for our region but ultimately the industry is focused up north and we’re not going to be able to partake in that,” she says.
“While the government is focused on one industry in the province, it’s ignoring other industries that could grow in the Kootenays.
For example, agriculture; we could be doing so much more to support agriculture but the government has supported measures to destabilize agriculture in the Kootenays. We want to give people the ability to work and live in their communities, not just one or the other.”
Other items in the throne speech include plans for legislation that changes to the province’s liquor laws to allow alcohol sales in grocery stores, 10-year plans for skills training and transportation, plans to reach a 10-year labour agreement with teachers, a $5.5 million plan to address domestic violence against aboriginal women, and plans for a motion to apologize to Chinese Canadians for historical wrongs.
The majority of these items were previously stated in the government’s Feb. 2014 throne speech.