Parties, unions, and protesters draw political lines in the sand as LNG debate continues

A dated photo of the province's official opposition, NDP John Horgan.

What is expected to be a week long debate on the merits of a law to push forward the development of BC’S first LNG project near Prince Rupert continues today.

The legislation was tabled on Monday and NDP leader John Horgan wasted no time in stating the official opposition will vote against the bill.

He claims the government agreement with Pacific Northwest LNG amounts to a 25-year tax holiday for the Petronas-led consortium, with no job guarantees for British Columbians.

“I said last fall when I supported the fiscal framework that was tabled by the government, that we would be following this negotiation closely,” Horgan said.

“We had four conditions, those conditions have not been met. The people of British Columbia expect their government to negotiate on their behalf, not on behalf of foreign governments and foreign companies.”

Mr. Horgan claims the government’s own documents suggest they’ll be using temporary foreign workers.

However, while making it clear his support is contingent on the jobs staying in house, Tom Sigurdson with the Building Trades Council has endorsed the project.

That noted, Premier Christy Clark launched her defence of the legislation, and while conceding there are no job guarantees written into the deal, she and Finance Minister Mike De Jong are both confident BC workers will be first in line for the alleged thousands of jobs in the LNG sector.

“There’s a reason the unions support what we’re doing, and there’s a reason the unions disagree with what Mr. Horgan has said,” Clark said.

“It’s because they know that if we work together and we’re really committed to making sure that British Columbians are first in line for those jobs, British Columbians will get those jobs first.”

Added De Jong: “I know this about British Columbians… they can compete with other Canadians, they can compete with anyone in the world. British Columbians are going to be in demand for the thousands of jobs that these projects will bring with them.”

The legislation will pave the way for the $36-billion dollar Pacific NorthWest LNG project by protecting the consortium from future taxes targeting the LNG industry for 25 years.

That includes everything from carbon tax hikes, to new rules on greenhouse gas emissions, and critics see it as a short-sighted move to score political points.

At the legislature this week, security officials have removed protesters chanting “No consent…No LNG,” and suggesting, among other things, that the government is opening the door to the oil and gas industry to accelerate climate change.

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