B.C. Premier Christy Clark will lead a delegation to Parliament Hill on Monday, where she’ll pitch the transformational benefits she says the liquefied natural gas industry could have for all of Canada.
The Premier – who last fall led an LNG trade mission to China, South Korea and Japan – is expected to say the sector will generate 100,000 jobs and strengthen the national economy.
Critics, however, continue to express concern about who will fill those jobs and whether B.C. is moving too slowly when it comes to LNG development.
Ms. Clark on Sunday said the race is definitely on, and what’s good for B.C. is also good for Canada.
“You think about the tremendous resource we have here in British Columbia, how that could transform Canada forever if we become a global supplier of natural gas. People recognize, I think, how the oil sands have transformed Canada. Natural gas has exactly the same potential to transform our country,” Ms. Clark said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period.
During the interview, Ms. Clark said B.C. has many factors working in its favour – a 150-year LNG supply, proximity to Asian markets and a triple-A credit rating.
But there is plenty more to do, she said, particularly when it comes to having a “highly qualified, well trained work force.”
“When we go to Ottawa with this trade mission, our purpose will be to prove to the world that we are united, the federal and provincial governments, in addressing jobs training, immigration, making sure that we are preparing Canada so that we have the people to fill those jobs.
“Because you can’t build an economy without people. And we can only do that if we do it together,” she said.
Ms. Clark’s delegation will include her Liberal ministers for jobs, natural gas development, environment and aboriginal leaders.
But Adrian Dix, leader of the opposition B.C. NDP, questioned what good would come as a result of the trip.
“It’s all show and no work,” he said in a phone interview.
Mr. Dix said the provincial government has failed to develop anything of substance when it comes to skills training, and has no plan for LNG greenhouse-gas emissions.
“One of the challenges when you go – whether it’s to China or to Ottawa – to promote this is people will ask what you’re doing. And, unfortunately, on the substance of it, the Premier isn’t doing very much,” he said.
The province has said it wants to have three LNG facilities up and running by the end of the decade. It expects $100-billion to pour into its coffers over the next 30 years.
B.C. is not the only jurisdiction attempting to finance its future through LNG. The first U.S. facility, on the Gulf Coast, is expected to be in operation by late 2015 or early 2016. B.C.’s development also trails Australia, Nigeria, Qatar and Russia, and there are fears a labour shortage could drive up construction costs.
Ms. Clark has previously said her government can’t train the workers on its own, and that she’ll look to Ottawa and the private sector for help.
The province unveiled its tax regime for LNG exports last month in its budget. Finance Minister Mike de Jong said at the time that the industry’s promise in B.C. “is very real.”
Mr. de Jong will this week visit New York, Boston, Toronto and Winnipeg to talk to officials and investors about economic opportunities in B.C., including those in LNG.
Ottawa last week announced it had approved four long-term LNG export licences. It said market diversification for Canada’s natural gas remains a top priority for the federal government.
“World energy demand is on the rise, and Canada has the unprecedented energy supply to meet that demand,” Greg Rickford, federal minister of natural resources, wrote in a statement.