BC LIBERALS STAND UP FOR B.C. – ASK BC NDP TO JOIN THEM
VICTORIA – BC Liberal MLAs voiced their disapproval today in the Legislative Assembly over federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s recent remarks that West’s burgeoning resources sectors are bad for the long-term health of Canada.
The motion, moved by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett called on MLAs to “unanimously reject the position stated by Thomas Mulcair that resource extraction in western provinces is bad for Canada.”
“This clearly was a blunder by the leader of the federal NDP,” said Bennett. “Adrian Dix, the leader of the provincial NDP, and his MLAs need to stand up for British Columbians, they need to acknowledge what Thomas Mulcair said, and they need to disavow themselves from his position on natural resource extraction.”
BC Liberal MLAs stood to speak in favour of the motion, while NDP members defended their federal leader’s comments that suggest Canada would be better off by shutting down resource sectors, potentially throwing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including British Columbians, out of work and removing billions of dollars from government revenue.
Prior to the debate getting underway, the NDP tried to strike down the motion but were overruled by the Speaker.
“It needs to be made clear that when the B.C. NDP refuses to condemn Thomas Mulcair’s comments, they actually support them,” said Chilliwack MLA John Les. “Just at a time in the history of our country when Canada’s economy is increasingly being led by the West, we have the national leader of the New Democratic Party seemingly speaking out against this western development. He referred to it in rather pejorative terms. He referred to it as a ‘disease.’”
In May, Mulcair stated “the Dutch disease is setting in in Canada. The Canadian dollar is artificially high because we are allowing the companies – especially in the oilsands – to use the air, the soil and water as an unlimited free dumping ground.”
“Resource extraction managed, done with scientific evidence, done properly, is what takes British Columbia to where it is today and will continue to so in the future,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “When the B.C. NDP support Thomas Mulcair’s statement, I am concerned about the future of our province. That is why I spoke in favour of the motion. B.C. must move forward, and Adrian Dix and the NDP must quit saying no to everything in our province that creates jobs and drives economic growth.”
Mulcair’s remarks have been panned by economists, pundits, editorial boards, business leaders, and by the premiers of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, who have pointed out that transfer payments from western Canada are subsidizing “have-not” provinces in central and eastern Canada.
“This type of short-sighted economic analysis is simply unacceptable for British Columbia. It truly is unacceptable for British Columbians,” said Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm. “We have resource development that has led the livelihoods and led development in Northeastern B.C. and certainly is going to over the next years to come. Benefits of our resource development have brought billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to British Columbia.”
Mulcair’s comments also conflict with Statistics Canada’s most recent Monthly Survey of Manufacturing that reported manufacturing sales, “increased 1.9 per cent in March to $49.7 billion, the largest advance since September 2011. The gain was led by the petroleum and coal products industry.”
There are several factors to Canada’s recent strong dollar, including high international demand, especially from Asia, for western Canadian commodities including lumber, copper, oil, nickel, potash, and coal. The Canadian dollar is also benefiting from a strong banking sector, ranked as the most stable in the world for four straight years by the World Economic Forum, low interested rates, and impressive job creation, including nearly 60,000 net new jobs that have been created in B.C. from February 2011.
In B.C., the value of mineral production has more than doubled since 2001, and was worth an estimated $8.5 billion in 2011. Last year, exploration spending topped $460 million, up from $27 million in 2001, while 29,000 people were employed in the mining sector in 2011, up from just over 9,000 in 2001.
Through its BC Jobs Plan, the BC Liberal government has ambitious plans to further develop the province’s mining industry. By 2015, the government wants eight new mines in operation with nine upgrades and expansion to exiting operations.
B.C.’s promising liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry also has a bright future and the government wants to see one pipeline and terminal in Kitimat up-and-running by 2015 and three operation by 2020.
Two weeks ago, while Premier Clark was in South Korea, it was announced that Korea Gas Corporation, Shell Canada, Mitsubishi Corporation, and PetroChina are proposing to jointly develop LNG Canada, an LNG processing facility near Kitimat.
These jobs and revenue-generating initiatives could be placed in jeopardy if Adrian Dix and the BC NDP don’t stand up to Mulcair’s vision, threatening the very future of resource development throughout British Columbia.