Video: Jennifer Rice speaks to the Liquefied Natural Gas tax Act

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“The reason the debate is focused on the NDP right now is because they realize that they have been a colossal failure when it comes to the tax regime. This portrayal that we are against it and that we’re against everything is baloney. Where is the substance in this debate this afternoon?

So 7 percent down to 3½ percent. In reality it’s 1½ percent, if we’re lucky. That’s the truth, and that’s what’s not being discussed today.

The member for Skeena spoke about the fact that when the pulp mill in my community was up and running just over a decade ago, over 600 people were employed in that mill. I don’t think he finished his thought, but his point is that if two LNG terminals were up and running in my community, that would still employ less than that pulp mill had employed.

The point he was trying to make was that the jobs are, in fact, in the construction of these LNG terminals. That is where the jobs are. Yet we have a Premier gallivanting around the globe, recruiting temporary foreign workers to come and do jobs that British Columbians need, jobs that people in my community need.

There has been a record number of people in the last few months, compared to the last nine years, come through my office doors in dire need of affordable housing. They are being evicted on the hype of LNG. Once or twice I thought this was a little bit strange, but it is a chronic occurrence.

I would like to know what the Minister of Social Development, who is prattling on right now, is doing about that. The Minister of Housing, the Deputy Premier, has said we can’t do anything until we’ve reaped the benefits of LNG, which we know are decades down the line. That is not helping the people in my community right now.

Prince Rupert, in fact, has close to a….

I can’t…. Am I supposed to talk here?

Thank you, Hon. Speaker.

The community that I live in is facing a $250 million infrastructure deficit right now. We flush our sewage directly into the ocean. We have one small part of our town that has primary sewage treatment. We still, to this day, get our drinking water from wooden pipes, and this LNG bonanza has yet to do anything to help us prepare for the influx of workers we’re supposedly getting.

We can barely treat our own sewage and have a precarious water supply, and yet we are supposed to just deal with that after we’ve reaped the benefits of LNG, decades down the line? This is why in the House we are debating petty little things about the NDP party this afternoon. No one wants to face the reality or the truth. No one is being truthful.

We know that with the “Debt-free B.C.” slogan on the side of the bus, members opposite didn’t expect to be elected. Then when they had to make their big huge grandiose plan come to fruition…. It’s just an average industry providing average revenue. This is what we would have expected — not the big booming plans that we’ve been promised. And now that we’re here debating this bill, reality has hit the floor. “We’re going to pick on the NDP instead.”

I spoke to a real estate agent in my community, and she’s been doing property management for 20 years. She said to me: “Jennifer, in 20 years I’ve never seen a zero percent vacancy rate.” And we have a zero percent vacancy rate, all based on the speculation of LNG. Well, that’s fantastic. Where is the support for the communities to prepare for this? There is nothing.

We have a Deputy Premier, a Minister for Housing, who belittles us when we ask for support. We want to be partners in the LNG industry. We’re trying to prepare. We’re trying to contribute. But we get nothing, and we get belittled.

I would just like to comment on the speaker before me. He said that we are here to promote and support failure. I just think that is so ridiculous. Why would we be here? Why are we in this House? Why would we run to be elected as MLAs to promote failure? I feel like it is such a baloney distraction. It’s just gross. It shouldn’t even be allowed. It should be one of those forbidden words, to suggest that we’re here to promote failure and be against everything and not see our communities prosper.

I’ve been an MLA for a year and a half now, and I find this ridiculous. This is the most juvenile debate I’ve ever participated in.

Hon. Speaker, I apologize for my frustration. It’s just that the people in my community, who haven’t seen a boom in over a decade, have been anxiously awaiting this prosperity that we were so promised. We were guaranteed a trillion-dollar industry for the north, 100,000 jobs, a debt-free B.C., the prosperity fund, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I guess the frustration is that everyone knew that it was going to be as it is right now — except for the members opposite, who now are finally having to admit that it’s not this grandiose plan that it was set out to be. I live in Prince Rupert, and I live on the north coast, so I have to listen.

I have to be there with the people in my community that are suffering or who have lost their hope, who were promised so much and are now in my office trying to find an apartment they can afford.

There were days when the Premier was touting from this very building this grandiose plan for LNG, but at the same time, my colleagues were meeting with LNG proponents saying that reality is not as rosy as she portrayed it. I feel that it is pretty obvious that this is the reality that we were going to face, except now we actually get to get picked on because we don’t want to have the dialogue.

The people in my community anxiously await this trillion-dollar industry. They anxiously await the jobs that were promised. We know, as I said a minute ago, that the jobs are in the construction. I do look forward to the construction jobs that they’ll benefit from. I do look forward to the training opportunities that we’ll get. We talked about 100,000 jobs, and the member before me talked about 75 in his community.

Well, in fact, my community college is quiet. It’s like a ghost town in the halls. You can’t tell it’s a community college. In fact, they cut skills training and upgrading at my college. So I’m still waiting, as the people in Prince Rupert are, for these benefits.

I support the LNG industry, providing it provides local jobs — not just local jobs; good-paying jobs. I support LNG if the local people in my community who are going to be impacted by these projects get the training and jobs. I support the LNG industry if we reap a fair share of the resource. I support the LNG industry if First Nations are included and they receive benefits from this industry. And I support the LNG industry, providing we are protecting our air, land and water.”