The BC Liberal government delivered their Throne Speech to open the last sitting of the Legislature before the spring election on Tuesday.
Premier Christy Clark announced a plan for a “prosperity fund” that would accumulate more than $100 billion in revenue from liquefied natural gas plants over the next 30 years, and use it to pay off debt and maybe even one day eliminate the provincial sales tax.
Liquefied Natural Gas was a common phrase in the speech as the government announced changes in the tax and royalties around LNG and moves to make sure LNG companies have the energy required for production.
The speech also outlined:
* A new, integrated organization that will partner with Canada, the business community and educational institutions to make Vancouver the hub for Asian and South Asian corporate offices and investment activity.
* A renewed commitment by government to small business owners, to keep the province the most small-business-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.
* New measures to support families, including:
o Improving access to quality early childhood services; o Improving access and affordability of child care; and o Measures to help families of young children save for post-secondary education.
* Legislation to establish a seniors’ advocate and a plan to address elder abuse.
* Improvements for patients in rural and urban areas as well as improvements to primary health care.
* Work to develop a school of traditional Chinese medicine at a post-secondary institution in B.C.
Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says at the heart of the speech there is nothing.
“There is nothing there,” he said. “It’s one of the first Throne Speeches where I can recall no one clapping — not even the BC Liberals. The last Throne Speech in 2011 promised that BC would be number one in job creation. Of course, we’re number 8.”
As far as the LNG fund, Macdonald says the whole thing is based on tremendous assumptions.
“Prices of liquefied natural gas are very unstable The government made a half billion dollar mistake in estimated gas revenues last year. So to talk about a $100 billion fund is highly speculative.
“The Throne Speech is supposed to at least outline a plan but it provided nothing of substance, nothing to give confidence that the BC Liberals can govern. You need to govern in the short term, not 30 years out.”
Macdonald says you can’t compare this prosperity fund to the similar heritage fund in Alberta.
“The heritage fund was based in a degree of reality we don’t have here.”
“If you look at the Throne Speech from 60,000 feet it is bold and speaks to vision and what the future can hold for British Columbians recognizing that big thinking precedes great achievemen,” said BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok. “While the global economy remains fragile the Speech outlines a road map for a confident and successful BC with a plan to control spending and wcreate jobs!
“What does it mean for Columbia River Revelstoke? The Speech outlines a renewed commitment to small business owners to keep our province the most small business friendly jurisdiction in Canada.
“It outlines new measures to support families including improved access to quality early childhood services and affordable child care. It speaks to the creation of legislation establishing a senior’s advocate and a plan to address elder abuse as well as improvements in overall health care delivery for rural British Columbians. It outlines the creation of a Prosperity Fund achieved through LNG royalties, and has the potential to reduce the provincial debt, to help fund education, agriculture and ranching, healthcare and the infrastructure needs we have today and into the future; achieving all of this while protecting the environment. What an exciting time to be a British Columbian!