Premier Christy Clark has doubled down on her election promise to pay off B.C.’s debt with revenues from liquefied natural gas exports, despite delays in proposed projects in the face of a global glut of oil and gas.
“Success is not for quitters,” declared the government’s speech from the throne, delivered Tuesday by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to open the spring session of the B.C. legislature.
“It is not a choice between keeping B.C.’s natural gas industry stable or deciding to grow it,” the speech said. “We must begin to export, or the 13,000 people who depend on this industry today will be out of work.”
One new initiative is a renewed focus on food production, including an expanded “buy local, grow local” effort involving local governments and community organizations. Farmers are to be offered a tax credit for donating food to non-profits, and an agrifoods conference is to be held in Kelowna in November.
Touting B.C.’s economic performance, the speech includes unusual criticism of Alberta, saying it “lost its focus.
“They expected their resource boom never to end, failed to diversify their economy and lost control of government spending.”
The speech restates the government’s intention to implement recommendations from former deputy minister Bob Plecas to hire more child protection social workers and modernize the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“That work must begin with ending the culture of blame that exists for those public servants with the most difficult role,” the speech says.
With an election scheduled for 2017 and the last full budget before it to be presented Feb. 16, the speech repeats the phrase “stand up for B.C.” that could emerge as a re-election slogan. It also refers to “getting to yes,” a phrase Clark has used frequently in relation to LNG and other resource developments.
As it did before the 2013 election, the government has resumed jobs-themed TV ads focused on skills training and technology incentives.