February 12, 2016
Prince Rupert – North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has called on Premier Christy Clark to apologize for calling northern B.C. residents and First Nations concerned about LNG “a ragtag group” and “forces of no.”
The Premier made the comments last week, following a gathering in Prince Rupert where hereditary and elected First Nations leaders signed a declaration against locating Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG plant on Lelu Island near the mouth of the Skeena River. Signatories include Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Vice President Bob Chamberlin.
“This was hardly a rag tag group of people,” said Rice, who also signed the declaration. “These are informed indigenous leaders and northerners who understand the risks of industrial development to their region. Their declaration was a powerful statement by people coming together to defend their northern way of life. For the Premier of our province to call them – or any British Columbians, for that matter – ‘rag tag’ is profoundly disrespectful.”
The Premier’s comments come at a time when her government is celebrating collaborative solutions to protect the Great Bear Rainforest.
“There is a glaring contradiction in the Premier’s words,” added Rice. “The grassroots First Nations leadership we’re seeing on the Lelu Island issue is the same kind of leadership that made the Great Bear Rainforest deal possible. The Premier’s mean spirited divide-and-conquer tactics will never lead to the kind of collaborative solutions needed to develop Northern B.C.’s economy.”
“The path to reconciliation and advancement of LNG projects or any project does not start by labelling a group of citizens with legitimate concerns as ragtag. You advance projects by bringing people together and finding compromises. We all want responsible resource development and shared benefits. The Premier, however, prefers name-calling”
“I urge the Premier to apologize to all Northwest B.C. First Nations and residents for her remarks. They have legitimate concerns and they deserve our respect,” said Rice.
Lelu Island and the eelgrass beds of nearby Flora Bank provide critical habitat for migrating Skeena River wild salmon. The Malaysian corporation Petronas is proposing to build one of the world’s largest LNG plants on the island, including a 1.6-kilometre-long suspension bridge to a tanker port just off Flora Bank.
Constituent Assistant to Jennifer Rice MLA, North Coast
818 3rd Ave West
Prince Rupert, B.C.