Top 5 Questions Christy Clark is Dodging by Cancelling the Fall Sitting

Christy Clark doesn’t like Victoria. At least, she said as much in an interview with the National Post: “I try never to go over there. Because it’s sick. It’s a sick culture. All they can think about is government…”

Maybe that’s why Clark pulled the plug on this fall’s legislative session. As a bonus, that means her political opponents won’t get the opportunity to ask her any questions … well, not in the legislature at least.

Unfortunately for the powers that be, we rang up a few folks. Here are their top five questions for Clark.

1) What the @#$& is B.C. actually doing on climate change?

“We can start with what’s in the news right now: the national carbon pricing issue,” says Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

“What is B.C.’s climate plan? We can’t discuss it.”

Weaver said the BC Liberals have used climate leadership as a political slogan but have utterly failed to implement meaningful climate action.

Any success held by this government on the climate file is due to “riding the coattails of the former government under Gordon Campbell,” he said.

The B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer is investigating B.C.’s record on climate leadership but recently said she will not release her findings until after the provincial election.

“We don’t have a climate plan and we can’t challenge government on that in the house,” Weaver said.

George Heyman, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and opposition critic for environment, green economy and technology, said Clark ignored the recommendations of her own climate leadership team.

“Christy Clark ignored their recommendations after asking them to show us a path forward for climate action,” he said.

“What the premier ended up releasing was a climate procrastination plan.”

2) LNG Industry. What LNG Industry?

Although Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG project got federal approval last week, many onlookers think it’s unlikely to go ahead due to market conditions.

“I’ve been saying for four years now that an LNG industry in B.C. is nothing but a pipe dream,” Weaver said.

“And here we have the last potential sitting before election campaign season and we cannot challenge government as to what their backup plan is. The B.C. government needs to be challenged on the utter failure of LNG.”

3) What’s the Province’s Stance on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline?

“All the rumors we’ve heard from Ottawa are that Trudeau is getting ready to approve this massive oil pipeline and tanker project before Christmas,” said Kai Nagata, communications director for Dogwood, a B.C. democracy group.

“So there are going to be massive conversations with the provincial government happening right now about what it’s going to take to get Christy Clark on board.”

“We deserve clarity and we’re not going to get it without ministers answering for it in the legislature.”

The province of B.C. officially opposed Trans Mountain in its final filing to the National Energy Board, but indicated it could approve the project if its five conditions are met.

Weaver said when it comes to major projects “we don’t see the Premier standing up for British Columbians in this province.”

“For Kinder Morgan, the B.C. government put in its politically populist five conditions, but they are utterly meaningless when you consider the horse-trading going on,” he said. “They are more concerned about political tradeoffs than anything else.”  

4) What the Heck is Happening with the Site C Dam?

As the fall hits, construction of the contentious Site C dam is in full force in the Peace River valley. Families and farmers facing expropriation of their land are counting the days they have left on their properties.

“The Site C dam is a waste of money on every account,” Heyman said, adding if he were in the legislature he would ask the BC Liberals what they’re doing to promote the green tech sector.

Christy Clark’s emphasis on the Site C dam project has led to alternative energy developers — like the Canadian Wind Energy Association — to leave the province for better prospects elsewhere.

“We would ask them why they are supporting the Site C dam without any [B.C. Utilities Commission] review when it’s going to drive up prices for ratepayers,” Heyman said.

“We would also ask them why they won’t allow B.C.’s innovative people in the clean tech sector to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a carbon tax to grow B.C.’s green economy.”

5) When Will B.C. Ban Corporate Donations?

The issue of major fossil fuel infrastructure projects intersects with another political juggernaut that’s come to a head under the Christy Clark government’s leadership: the affordable housing crisis.

“The overarching issue that ties into both the housing crisis and massive fossil fuel infrastructure is corporate donations,” Nagata said.

The BC Liberals have come under fire for accepting generous donations from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals, often from outside the country. This practice persists in B.C. — called the wild west of campaign finance — despite being banned in all other major provinces in Canada. Clark conveniently delayed implementing election-spending limits (that’s right, there are none in B.C.) until after 2018.

The BC Green Party recently announced it will no longer accept any corporate or union donations. Heyman said the NDP has promised to ban corporate and union donations if the party takes power.

Since 2005 the BC Liberals have accepted $70.2 million from corporate donors, according to data from Elections B.C.

“That absolutely affects their choices on a range of issues,” Nagata said. “And now they won’t be held accountable for that.”

The BC Liberals have come under increased scrutiny for allowing a controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt to continue in B.C., despite overwhelming opposition from the majority of British Columbians, First Nations and conservation groups. As Dogwood has pointed out, the Guide Outfitters Association is a major donor to the party.

“Christy Clark was right when she said there’s a sick culture in the political beltway of Victoria,” Nagata said. “It was one that her party played a large role in creating by allowing big money donors and friends of her party to dictate policy on everything from wildlife issues to major infrastructure projects to the housing market.”

The absence of a fall sitting creates a vacuum, Nagata said.

Tweet: ‘A dangerous long-term trend for democracy & sad way to head into #BCelxn2017’ @KaiNagata @ChristyClarkBC #bcpoli“That’s a dangerous long-term trend for democracy and a sad way to head in to the next election.”

Image: Christy Clark, one time when she was in Victoria. Photo: Christy Clark via Flickr

Carol Linnitt is a journalist, editor, illustrator and co-founder of The Narwhal. Carol has been reporting on energy and environmental…

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