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REPORTING · 8th April 2013
Walter McFarlane
Premier Christy Clark was in Kitimat on Thursday, April 4th to speak to the Chamber of Commerce at Kitimat Valley Institute. It was a part of a tour of the Northwest, starting in Terrace, moving into Kitamaat Village and Kitimat. She introduced Carol Leclerc who she hoped would be the future MLA for our region.

Clark started the day at Northwest Community College and met with the people who are benefiting from the skills training. She went to a sold out lunch at the Chamber of Commerce in Terrace, met with the Haisla, went to Tim Hortons and talked to the people of Kitimat. She met with Rio Tinto Alcan.

She also took a Helicopter tour of the Kitimat waterfront a learned who owns what pieces of land.

Clark introduced herself as growing up in Burnaby. Her father was a teacher and her mother was a stay at home mother. “My parents made a lot of difficult decisions for us every day, and they made those decisions because they wanted to look after our future. They want to make sure that when they passed away, they left us better off than they were. They would have been ashamed if they had left us with a penny of debt and they didn’t,” said Clark. “Why is it ok for Government to decide we’re going to leave our children with billions of dollars of debt?”

She stated the first thing they do is balance their budget and BC is one of two provinces in Canada who managed to do it. Once they achieved that, they started to pay down the debt. She told the crowd gathered that it was this region which is making the payments possible. Clark stated this is through promises like the Liquefied Natural Gas plants which will allow the province to pay off the debt in 15 years.

“I know that the Northwest has seen some up times and some down times over the years. It’s all looking up from here. This is a renaissance that is happening in the Northwest now. This renaissance is going to enable our entire province to grow and prosper,” said Clark.

She stated what is happening in the ‘oil’ sands is a big deal for Canada. However, she told the crowd she sees the benefit of LNG as being as big as the ‘oil’ sands… “But it’s clean,” stressed Clark.

She said they are going to save the money from this for their kids in a prosperity fund so they could have a better future.

“You are living history here in Kitimat, you are living history. You are going to be at the forefront of a transformation of this province that we haven’t seen since the days of W. A. C. Bennett. It’s you and your children and your grand children who are going to take part in this,” said Clark.

She knows people are realizing the benefits of economic development, jobs and opportunities, while contemplating what changes are going to happen in these communities.

“I’m going to promise this to you today, we don’t want any Fort McMurray’s in British Columbia. We want sustainable communities that people really want to live in and raise their children. We’re going to make sure this community and all the communities in the Northwest that will be making an outsized contribution to our provincial economy and to our national economy, get their fair share of those benefits. We have figured out how to make sure the North East gets their fair share, when you are making that big contribution here, and when your communities are experiencing the change and the impact on your infrastructure, and your trying to attract families to live here, not just to fly in and go away, you’re going to need the resources to do that, and we’re going to make sure you get your fair share. A promise that we made to the North East is a promise we will make to the Northwest as well, because when you are making that contribution, you shouldn’t take all that money and send it down south and never see it again, you should get to keep some of that money for this community,” said Clark.

During the media scrim which followed, Clark was asked how she came up with 15 years as the amount of time that it will take to pay off the Provincial debt, as the LNG Market is constantly changing. Clark replied they took a conservative number based on their royalties and taxes and set it as 100 billion dollars over 30 years for three LNG Plants. She stated they have not finished negotiations with the LNG plants nor are they up and running yet.

On the topic of Social Services, Clark told reporters that they are talking about where they see the stresses and needs in these programs going forward. They are going to make sure to dedicate prosperity funds to renewing communities under the stress of development. She expressed Fort Saint John and Dawson Creek struggled before the government came up with the Fair Share Program.

Leclerc stated she was on the Terrace City Council and they could never find the money to deal with these when they happened. They had problems finding the money to put into projects they wanted for their community. She agreed for the concept of revenue sharing so they could put a new hospital in the Northwest, which would cost $80 million dollars.

“We want to develop our communities up here so people want to live here. We don’t want people coming in and taking their pay cheques somewhere else. We want them to stay here and I’m very happy to see about skills training because I’ve been pushing for skills training up here in the Northwest. People in the Northwest, they live here, they’re going to get trained here, and stay here,” said Leclerc.

Clark was asked what they think of David Black’s Refinery, whether or not it was a political ploy to get Enbridge into the Region. Clark stated it was an attempt by the opposition to describe everything as political.

“Do you know what’s political, saying no to every economic proposal from the private sector is political, saying no before you even know any of the facts is political. My view is different, rather than saying no to everything which I think is political and negative, we should try and find a way to get to yes,” said Clark.

She stated Black has managed to find $25 billion dollars from the private sector to get this thing built. It would create 3000 high playing jobs and would decrease the risk of moving oil from Alberta, converting it from heavy oil to a refined product which is moved up and down the coast all the time.

She said the government has set five conditions which apply to Enbridge, and every other proposal they receive. However, she wants to think about these projects as projects they should try to find a way to say yes to, before they say no to them, because they would put a lot of people to work.

Clark and Leclerc were asked if the Liberals have a plan to reduce the raw log exports. Clark stated in a perfect world, all the manufacturing would be done in British Columbia and they would export value added product.

“When there isn’t a market for the wood, we can keep a lot of people working in the woods by exporting raw products. It’s nobody’s preference to do it but if the choice is between putting people out of work because we want to make and ideological decision or keep people at work by limiting log exports, I chose the latter on that,” said Clark.

She stated the lumber industry is doing well in BC while the rest of the world is struggling because they were able to open up new markets for their wood in China which has brought in a billion dollars for softwood.

“When we talk about the Raw Log Exports, we have to remember that 300 people are employed with those jobs in this areas and that means 300 families are being fed. You have to weigh the good against the bad and we know that we have coastal wood which is not great for manufacturing at this time. The Cream of the crop has been gone over the years and we have to wait for the second growth to come in. It’s probably going to take 20 years before we have good, certain wood for the manufacturing facilities here. In the meantime, we have to weigh the good with the bad,” said Leclerc.

She stated they should make certain not one raw log goes out of BC without passing a surplus test, which means anybody who wants the wood can purchase it.

Clark was asked if the government would help Prince Rupert, because an abandoned pulp mill threatens to bankrupt the city. Clark said it is the cities responsibility to see that through. Prince Rupert is a good partner but this is a cost the city has assumed and they are working their way through that.

On a question about her meeting with the Haisla and her Helicopter tour, she added the Haisla are a good partner concerning the natural gas which is coming to Kitimat and was with her on her tour. She expressed the Apache site has changed.

She said the LNG projects are going to change the country. The Haisla are going to play a large role in changing the entire country. She stated the leadership should be proud and she was proud of them as well.

“We’ve got lots of issues to manage and we need a competent hand on the tiller. These are not the kinds of things that just happen by themselves and they don’t happen necessarily well with any hand on the tiller. That’s why I need Carol [Leclerc] to come work with me in Victoria, she’s going to be the person who speaks out loudly and proudly for this community and the development that is coming here is going to happen in the right way for this community,” said Clark.

After the announcement Clark answered a few personal questions for one of the long distance education providers in the region.
Go BC Liberals Go!!
Comment by Oceans on 17th April 2013
Great to see Premier Christy Clark. She had to spend the last few years cleaning up some of the major complaints Previous Premier, but now that done its time to get a new Mandate. And what a great one it is. Economic Growth through balanced budget and low tax's protecting our jobs and creating new ones. A Prosperity fund that will attack our Provincial debt setting us up as not just Beautiful BC but Rich BC. Far cry from the Economy destroying Mandate saught by NDP, higher tax's and regulations and panels to they say investigate, I say attack IPP's, fisheries, Logging, Oil, Natural Gas and Mining. No Economy can survive the Anti Corportate pro labour NDP.