BC Jobs Plan – Province for Sale!

I have spent some time reading the recently released BC Jobs Plan. It looks like a plan for the 20th century. Too bad it didn’t arrive till the 21st.

There is a lot of ‘rah-rah’ stuff around B.C.’s strengths and the government’s determination, counterbalanced with the spectre of the “turbulent economic climate”. Laughably, the plan speaks of reaffirming “B.C.’s commitment to … retaining low taxes for families”! This how many days after the HST referendum through which British Columbians said ‘no’ to $2 billion in taxes being shifted from corporations to individuals and families?

Where the plan is really weak is in addressing the turbulent real climate. Premier Clark might do well to note that all closed ecosystem experiments have involved trying to recreate the systems that nature provides us. None have involved sealing “business leaders and experts” (whom the plan promises to consult) in a sphere with heaps of money. Even in a turbulent economic climate no one really wants to watch business leaders and experts suffocate.

In the BC Jobs Plan there are promises to “accelerate permits and approvals” with reference to “time-limited permitting” while “retaining strong environmental, safety and public health standards.”

The plan “commits the government to working with LNG export proponents to bring at least one LNG pipeline and terminal online by 2015 and have three in operation by 2020”. It does not specifically mention the Site C dam project but does promise that “LNG expansion will not be held back by a lack of supply of electricity.”

The plan talks of BC agriculture and of marketing “foodstuffs like blueberries, cherries and salmon”. It makes no mention of protecting BC farm land such as the class 1 farm land that will be flooded by the Site C dam. There is no mention either of the controversy around farmed vs wild salmon, or of protection and restoration of remaining wild stocks.

The plan states that “The ‘green economy’ starts in British Columbia” and says “Finding new markets for solar, wind, bio-mass and other technologies can turn B.C. into a clean technology powerhouse.” If the green economy “starts in British Columbia”, where is it? We don’t need new markets for these technologies. We need to market them here!

This jobs plan disregards legitimate concerns of British Columbians over fracking, fresh water, pipelines, tanker traffic, food security, energy security and a range of other issues in favour of a fire-sale approach to B.C. resources.

Why don’t we see the same support from government for a green economy as we do for the fossil fuel economy in B.C.?

How are adequate environmental assessments of complex industrial projects to be conducted under a time-limited permit process?

Why has a legislative committee to investigate fracking, as called for by MLAs Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntington, not been formed?

Why do we not return to moratorium on fish farm licences at least until the Cohen Commission publishes it’s report?

Why are we not pursuing large scale adoption of renewable technologies such as solar, wind, tide and geothermal power when these could provide for the energy needs of British Columbians without the loss of class 1 farm land that Site C would entail?

At a time when global grain production is falling and prices rising, shouldn’t we be protecting farm land throughout the province and working to encourage it’s sustainable, productive use?

How does the commitment to growth in the LNG industry stand up against the province’s legal and moral obligations for greenhouse gas reduction?

How does the commitment to pipelines and tanker traffic stand up against the province’s obligations to consult with First Nations? The Coastal First Nations Declaration would seem to suggest that this jobs plan may not enjoy a smooth ride, despite the plan’s promise of ten First Nations agreements by 2015.

British Columbians are not anti-development, but we don’t want to see our province raped. Development and environmental health do not have to be mutually exclusive. British Columbians know that and will not sit idly by while corporations reap profits while making B.C. toxic. The failure of the BC Jobs Plan to care for future generations does not bode well for this province.


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