WATCH: Tensions are rising over a landmark $40 billion B.C. LNG deal that could threaten the NDP/Green agreement. Tess van Straaten reports.
Premier John Horgan faced a wall of reporters on the first day of the fall session but the B.C. NDP may have a much larger obstacle to overcome to make Canada’s biggest infrastructure project ever a reality.
“We’re looking at $23 billion in revenue to B.C., we’re looking at 10,000 jobs throughout the north and so this would be a huge economic opportunity for British Columbia,” says energy minister Michelle Mungall.
LNG Canada is looking to move ahead with a $40 billion liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat this year. Unfavourable market forces delayed the massive investment by Royal Dutch Shell and its partners in 2016 when the Liberals were in power.
“We did not see success under the former B.C. Liberal government and that’s why we decided we needed to re-look at this, put forward a new framework,” Mungall explains.
But critics say the project, which would carve out the fastest route to Asia for North American gas, makes it impossible for the NDP to meet its climate targets of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.
“The legislation that would enable the final investment decision is not legislation that would be supported by the B.C. Greens,” says B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. “The B.C. NDP will have to find support from the B.C. Liberals.”
Even B.C.’s environment minister, who has been critical of LNG in the past and is now trying to work it into the province’s new climate strategy, isn’t convinced.
“It’s important, it’s good for B.C.,” says George Heyman. “We also have to make sure the benefits for British Columbians and our commitment to meet our climate targets are part of the package.”
The LNG debate raises a much bigger issue — what happens to the NDP/Green party agreement if the project goes ahead? Will the Greens withdraw all of their support for the NDP, support that’s propping up the minority government? And if so, does that mean the government could fail?
“I recognize everyone wants ‘will the government fall or not’ answer,” Weaver says.
But it’s a question Andrew Weaver won’t answer — at least for now. However, he did point out the 40 per cent emission reduction is a key part of the confidence agreement with the NDP. If that agreement is void, whether there could be an election is anyone’s guess.