Following the tabling of the Declaration Act Action Plan, I rose in Question Period to ask Premier John Horgan how his BC NDP government can justify the expansion of fossil fuel extraction and liquefaction infrastructure knowing the human rights violations, environmental and Indigenous rights.
In my follow-up question I asked Minister Mike Farnworth how he can reconcile diverting policing resources last Fall, when Southern British Columbia was being pounded by the atmospheric river, to yet again support a police enforcement of the contentious Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The BC NDP is clearly in deep conflict over the expansion and subsidization of the fossil fuel industry. It is long past time their actions match their words.
Mark Ruffalo and more than 65 celebrities launched a campaign calling on their bank, a subsidiary of RBC, to stop financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Well, the Premier celebrated the final investment decision of foreign investors on the LNG Canada project. He told Ruffalo and friends that their public thoughts on their final investment decision was unwelcome. The Premier dismisses the celebrities as lacking a full “understanding of the impact on Indigenous peoples and the impact on our climate….”
I’m concerned that this B.C. NDP government is unwilling to understand the human and environmental impacts of LNG. The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women found that man camps in resource-extractive industries directly cause increased violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. Scientific studies have demonstrated birth defects, cancers and asthma among communities neighbouring fracking sites.
In addition to the varied impacts on wildlife populations, ongoing deforestation and water pollution, methane is 28 times more potent, by weight, than carbon dioxide, meaning gases leaked from LNG production are more highly polluting than coal.
My question is to the Premier. How can he justify funding and subsidizing LNG infrastructure, knowing full well LNG’s violations of human, environmental and Indigenous rights?
Hon. B. Ralston:
I’m not the Minister of Energy for nothing, I suppose.
Thank you very much to the member for the question. It really does raise some important points about the LNG development here in British Columbia. We secured — our government secured — the biggest private sector investment in LNG in the history of the country. That development is following and meeting environmental standards of the very highest quality.
Members, let’s hear the answer, please.
Hon. B. Ralston:
Whether it’s the liquefaction plant in Kitimat or whether it’s the pipeline, the highest environmental standards are being met as this project moves forward. It’s due to be completed at the end of 2024. It’s a project which most of the people of British Columbia support and are very proud.
Member for Saanich North and the Islands, supplemental.
It’s stunning actually. I asked about the impact of the LNG industry on the missing and murdered Indigenous women, saying that the man camps in resource extraction industries have a dramatic impact on Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people, and the minister stands up and says that he’s celebrating the biggest investment like…. On a day that we’ve just put the provincial action plan in place, we’re just going to ignore it. We’ll just plow right along.
The B.C. NDP can flood us with the rosy rhetoric of reconciliation and consultation, but the fact that their government leverages the divide-and-conquer tactics used by all Crown governments in this country, policy grounded in a very racist Indian Act…. They can promise a transition to clean, environmentally sustainable energy, but the fact is that the NDP continue to pad the pockets of the oil and gas industry, $1.3 billion last year.
Last year B.C. witnessed a sample of the climate-related disasters that will be the norm if we don’t act to prevent climate change. Yet while floodwaters rose, this B.C. NDP Minister of Public Safety approved yet another RCMP raid on the Coastal GasLink pipeline route. More money, more time, more effort invested in the conflict that this government created rather than using the diplomatic process that they have entirely abandoned.
How does the Minister of Public Safety reconcile diverting police resources away from responding to a climate disaster to agitate Indigenous people protecting their land from this pipeline?
Hon. M. Farnworth:
I note the member had a number of questions in his question. First, I just want to make the observation that, as the Premier said, we’ll make our own decisions in this province about how we develop our natural resources in consultation with Indigenous communities, with local governments, the federal government, as opposed to listening to somebody down in Los Angeles who is a celebrity and somehow thinks that because they’ve made a movie and have millions of dollars, that somehow gives them the ability to influence how we do things here in this province.
I will also say this. When it comes to the rule of law in this province, when there is an injunction, a court-ordered injunction, that is granted by the court of this province, the RCMP have a responsibility to ensure that injunction is enforced. And that’s exactly what took place.
Part of that, hon. Member, is that when they request…. Because it is a small detachment that may need additional resources, it is my responsibility, as Solicitor General, to ensure that they have those resources to deal with an injunction that a court, an independent court, said needed to be enforced.
In terms of the ability of the RCMP to do that and, at the same time, to respond to emergencies in this province wherever they are, they have the ability, the resources to do so, and that is exactly what they did.