Giving away our resource

Columnist and MLA Claire Trevena on the current LNG debate

We were called back to the Legislature for a rare summer sitting. The purpose was for the government to expedite a bill on liquefied natural gas, which effectively sells out the province for the next quarter of a century.

It is an absolutely astounding piece of legislation. In a desperate attempt to get at least one LNG facility operating in BC by the next election, the government has already fixed the tax regime to be so low that we are effectively giving away our resource. This latest bill adds insult to injury. It ties the hands of this and future governments so that if any changes are made in laws that will negatively impact the earnings of the LNG producer the corporation will be compensated by the BC government. In other words, if any government in the next generation chooses to change environmental laws, tax laws, carbon reduction initiatives, royalty rates or make any other changes that negatively affect the corporation’s bottom line, taxpayers would have to pay compensation to the corporation that could add up to millions and millions of dollars.

I am astounded that nobody said to them that this is simply an absurdly bad deal. We are effectively paying Petronas, and other LNG producers, to take our resource and sell it for their profit, not ours. The irony is Petronas is a state-owned foreign company; its profits help finance the government of Malaysia. So the reality is that BC is essentially compensating the corporation and by doing so will effectively be injecting millions of dollars indirectly into the treasury of the government of Malaysia.

The deal fails us in so many ways: it is anti-democratic in that it ties the hands of future governments into indemnifying producers against changes future governments may want to make; it allows LNG producers to negotiate environmental regulations and protects them from changes to a carbon tax and other environmental initiatives; it gives no guarantees of jobs for BC workers; and it fails to mention First Nations. But Clark used her majority to get this through during the summer, even though there was no deadline for any legislation.

I was able to use this abbreviated and unexpected session to thank all those who helped combat the forest fire outside Port Hardy earlier this month, as well as show appreciation to the many volunteers who spend hours working on emergency preparedness for our communities. As it is summer I am usually around the constituency. At the end of this week I’m hosting a meeting with representatives from some of our smaller communities to talk about how we in the North Island can gain greater benefit from our resource wealth. Next week I look forward to the official start of new broadband Internet for the north end of the Island and I will continue to advocate for improved service for all areas as well as cell coverage for our major highways. I’ll also be working on some critic related issues through the coming weeks – talking with people about ferries, highways and transit.

My offices are closed for the week after BC Day to allow staff to enjoy some of the summer. I will be taking some holidays in August, but expect to run into people camping around our wonderful North Island lakes.

As always you can reach me by email at Claire.trevena.mla@leg.bc.ca, by phone at 250-287-5100 in Campbell River, 250-949-9130 in Port Hardy or 866-387-5100 toll free. Feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena.

 

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