By Chris Gardner, ICBA President
The big smiling premier from Kelowna always knew defeat in politics was inevitable. After all, no political party rules forever. It could come after one term, or two or three or four, but a loss was always coming. It was just a matter of time.
W.A.C. Bennett had been premier for 20 years when the NDP finally defeated him in 1972. But he saw that loss as an opportunity to cement another generation of free enterprise government. He was right: three years later, the NDP were vanquished again.
“People needed to put their finger on the hot stove, and feel it,” W.A.C. Bennett said on election night, 1975, the night the Socreds defeated the NDP and were restored to government. “They felt it! And tonight they’ve taken it away.”
As we prepare for Premier John Horgan – with his Green-infused plans to raise taxes, kill responsible resource development projects, strangle job creators with red tape, and go into deficit – W.A.C.’s words ring true again. B.C. is about to experience the economic pain NDP governments inevitably cause in British Columbia.
B.C.’s finger is on the hot stove again.
Horgan and Andrew Weaver live 1,282 kilometres away from the Site C dam, but are rigging the BC Utilities Commission process to kill Site C, and fire 2,200 construction workers. These men and women got up this morning and went to the job site to support their families and build a project that will deliver clean reliable power for future generations.
Site C spent more than a decade going through environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and was signed off by both the federal and provincial governments – all of which was upheld by a unanimous decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal last fall.
Horgan and Weaver’s backroom deal promises a Site C review based on “current” energy supply and demand. This stacks the deck against a project that isn’t being built for today, but to help meet B.C.’s electricity needs for the next century, and to offer a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
It’s short-term thinking, partisan politics and outright hypocrisy at its worst: In 2009, Andrew Weaver was a passionate defender of Site C. He wanted BC Hydro to get back into megaprojects. “They should be carving out their niche with the Site C dam,” he told The Globe and Mail. “I cannot see what is stopping Site C.” Now he is the one stopping Site C’s clean energy.
The NDP-Green goal of “revitalizing the environmental review process” is code for finding ways to get to “No.” They plan to inject their politics into every regulatory and environmental review of important energy, resource and infrastructure projects.
Not found in the Horgan-Weaver pact: any prospect of a balanced budget, any target for economic growth, any plan to build the infrastructure we need to compete in a global economy, or any plan to harness our natural resources responsibly. In short, no bold vision to build our province.
More than 200,000 people in B.C. make a living in construction. Another 65,000 people work in forestry and tens of thousands more on pipelines, in the mines, on the water, and in the oil and gas sector – responsibly developing B.C.’s abundant natural resources.
These are real projects, real jobs and real families. They are not “a myth,” or “unicorns,” as Weaver so arrogantly dismissed them last week with Horgan standing by his side. When Horgan and Weaver talk about “yesterday’s economy,” they demean the work of hundreds of thousands of British Columbians who put on a tool belt every morning and go about building our province.
W.A.C. Bennett knew what would happen as British Columbians saw jobs disappear and the province’s prosperity evaporate under the 1970s NDP. We’d pull our hand from the hot stove.
Let’s hope that once again we learn our lesson quickly, and that our economy doesn’t get burned too badly by this new NDP-Green coalition government.