In a recent speech from her back row seat in the Legislature our local MLA Jennifer Rice set out some concerns about LNG development that raise doubts as to whether she supports such projects on the North Coast.
Many Prince Rupert citizens look to LNG development as a chance to move on from a fairly dismal economic history characterized by population loss, high property taxes, budgetary problems and service reductions, while civic workers struggle to patch up aging infrastructure. As alluded to in another thread, some of us ponder whether Rupert is otherwise sliding towards a Detroit-like future, which would be very grim indeed.
North Coast Review has dedicated an article to her speech and includes a couple of lengthy quotes transcribed from the audio recording which deserve close scrutiny, at least to try to make sense of what she is saying:
“In Australia three LNG plants were constructed by three different companies right beside each other. This has proven inefficient. Here in B.C. it appears we, too, similarly are going down this path. If we truly believe in sustainable natural resource development, we need to examine cumulative impacts of multiple developments. Land and marine use planning is critical to managing the sustainability of resources. That also means considering ecosystem and social values and not just gross domestic product values.”
Okay, so what is the issue here? Would following the Aussie example be ill-advised because three LNG plants would be too many or is it just that they should not be built side by side? How are either or both scenarios “inefficient”? Would it be better to build plants far apart or would it be best not to build them at all?
Whatever is done requires land and marine use planning, and there are laws in place to address that, including environmental legislation that was put in place when the NDP was in government.
She also seems to have deeper and more philosophical concerns about considering “social values and not just gross domestic product”. What are those ‘social values’ that should not be traded off for a better GNP?
For a community that has taken some hard knocks in recent years, economic opportunities that can support better lifestyles, including for kids who otherwise hang around downtown spitting on the sidewalks, would seem to further at least some social objectives. The same can be said about having a stronger tax base to support improvements to community programs and facilities.
Is there something on the other side of the social ledger that we would be giving up if LNG proceeds, that MLA Rice feels should not be traded off for a better economy? What might that be?
Perhaps for now we can only wonder what she might be driving at. In view of the prominence that the Clark government has given to LNG, no doubt much more remains to be said.
The other quote that captures some of our MLA’s thoughts concerns the role of first nations in LNG discussions:
“Governments have apologized for the ways in which they have treated aboriginal peoples over times past, yet we continuously invite First Nations to participate in the very system we apologized for, one that stole their land and removed their rights. For surrendering forests for pipelines, lakes for tailing ponds and sacred headwaters for gas exploration, we offer in exchange a few dollars and what those in the developed world yield as a given right, such as quality education, good health care and decent housing. While we apologize for a system that has stripped First Nations of their natural resources and culture, we continuously invite them back into the same system.”
Some poetic licence is being taken here. Canada rightly apologized for the residential schools, not for our entire economic and political system.
The statement about ‘surrendering’ forests, lakes and sacred headwaters is particularly ironic. Aboriginal leaders consistently say that first nations have not surrendered anything in BC. Our Constitution recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights as a basis for accommodating both first nation rights and the economic development goals of government. Even the outdated Indian Act no longer talks about surrendering lands.
Local first nations have cut deals with the Port and Ridley Terminals, are involved in the proposed purchase of Watson Island, and brought TFL #1 back into production after New Skeena’s hype and failed efforts.
While we do not know the details and fine points, it seems pretty safe to say that local first nations have a pretty good handle on how to deal with resource developers and other proponents.
On more specific questions around LNG development, our MLA’s warnings against inviting first nations back into the ‘system’ that we supposedly apologized for stand in contrast to more practical advice from our MP.
At a recent City council meeting Nathan Cullen suggested in response to civic concerns about the City being overwhelmed by LNG proposals that it would be a helpful to join in with area First Nations. The latter appear to be more knowledgeable and ahead of the curve it seems.
northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … nergy.html
During the election Premier Clark held out LNG as a kind of economic salvation for the province, while the NDP offered some stuttering comments about how they are not opposed so long as development is done ‘responsibly’.
Of course, everyone is in favour of doing everything responsibly, but now that the election is behind us, while not taking a clear position, it seems that on balance and taken overall our MLA really seems to be opposed to LNG. What else can we take from comments about LNG being ‘inefficient’, counter to ‘social values’ and being associated with a ‘system’ that we apologized for (but haven’t)?
Here’s the full article: < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … ng-in.html >.