Dec 12, 2017

Site C decision a difficult one, but made based on facts, not politics—CUPE BC

CUPE BC President Paul Faoro issued the following statement today.

Since taking office less than six months ago, the new government of BC NDP Premier John Horgan and his government have had to grapple with no shortage of bad policies and programs left in place by the outgoing BC Liberal government. 

None of those issues have been as difficult or as complicated to deal with as the Site C project. Premier Horgan and his team campaigned on a commitment to send the Site C project to the independent BC Utilities Commission for review, and they delivered on that commitment. The findings of that review—that cancellation would result in a $4 billion debt with no corresponding asset—showed just how reckless former Premier Christy Clark was in pushing the project through with no independent oversight.

So while I wish that Site C had been left on the drawing table, the reality is that the new government was dealt a very poor hand on this issue by the BC Liberals’ deliberate strategy to push the project to the point of no return before the election. But no amount of complaining about the former government can change the reality of the situation. I know many people are disappointed in today’s decision, but I’m hopeful that when people really look at the consequences of a decision to cancel the project they will come to agree with its merits. Of crucial importance going forward is the province’s relationship with Indigenous people and its commitment to reconciliation.

The real impact of a cancellation of the project would be an immediate $4 billion hit to the books, paid for either by a massive rate increase to BC Hydro customers, or by abandoning the commitment Premier Horgan made to all British Columbians to make life better by investing in $10 per day child care, a return to sustainable funding for health care and education, and investment in transportation infrastructure and transit. While cancellation would have put all that and so much more at risk, completing the project will now allow for a significant increase in apprenticeship training, local hiring and a stronger focus on local economic development.

For sixteen years our province was led by two Premiers who governed solely for their high income and corporate backers, and their own political gain. Last May, British Columbians voted for change, and an important part of that change was moving to fact-based decision making in Victoria. Again, while I wish our new government had never been put in this position by the ego-based policies of Christy Clark, I salute them for making a tough, fact-based decision rather than letting short-term partisan political issues rule the process.

There is much more extremely important work yet to be done by this government. Having made this decision, it’s time to get on with making life in British Columbia fairer, more equitable and more affordable for all.

COPE 491