Dream or nightmare? The saga of Christy Clark
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Has BC Premier Christy Clark reached the bottom of her bag of tricks? It’s beginning to look that way as Clark’s LNG dreams appear to be unraveling and the future of the giant Site C dam project continues to be tied up in court. And Clark hasn’t exactly helped her cause by haughtily dismissing her critics as “the forces of no.”
It wasn’t always like this.
In the 2013 provincial election, Clark could do no wrong as she mesmerized the voters like a modern day pied piper winning a majority victory for the liberals that the party was supposed to lose. Of course, she was greatly aided in her efforts by the NDP, which waged the most incompetent election campaign in the party’s checkered political history.
But that was then and this is now and with the next provincial election not that far away in May 2017, Clark appears to be losing her political grip not to mention her vision. This was obvious in the Throne Speech this week where Clark’s trillion-dollar dream to turn BC into the LNG capital of the world was down played as the dream encountered the harsh winds of current economic reality and that reality is cheap oil.
The only question being asked about oil today is how low can it go? A year ago, who would have dreamed of $30-a-barrel oil. The Pied Piper certainly didn’t. But cheap oil is now a fact for the foreseeable future and the “future” in politics is never further than the next election cycle and that cycle no longer holds the dream of a billion dollar LNG plant being built in BC anytime soon and Clark knows it.
"Low global prices will have an impact on your government's initial timelines," read Lt-Gov. Judith Guichon in the speech as the government acknowledged that Clark’s 2013 election promise of LNG plants springing up like mushrooms all over the province creating thousands of jobs and a “Prosperity Fund” that would eliminate the provincial debt had just evaporated into thin air.
This was confirmed in recent announcements by both Royal Dutch Shell and Malaysian energy giant Petronas that they were delaying final decision on LNG mega-projects in Kitimat and Prince Rupert because of the slumping world economy. If these huge private sector projects don’t go ahead it begs the question of why Clark is prepared to spend $8 billion to build the Site C dam project when the power it would generate isn’t needed.
Are we going to sell all that power to Alberta and the US? Clark is not saying and
doesn’t appear to know. Obviously there’s no need for Site C power in sparsely populated northern BC but prime agricultural land is needed and the Site C Dam would destroy it forever. What kind of leadership is this?
If Clark looks weak on the energy file she appears to be losing it in other areas as well. Last June she embarrassed herself and her government by coming out with a hair-brained scheme to close Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge for an International Yoga Day stretch on the busy bridge which happened to clash with National Aboriginal Day. The Premier probably meant well, but a storm of public criticism greeted the event and Clark was forced to cancel the bridge closure and send the Lululemon crowd somewhere else. And in the aftermath of her flip-flop, Clark didn’t do her reputation any good by sending out a cheeky Twitter post chastising “Yoga haters.”
So what, you say. Maybe so. But it’s flubs like these that make you wonder if our Pied Piper Premier is losing her political touch. It’s easy to laugh off the Yoga affair but not so easy to dismiss the trillions of dollars and thousands of jobs that are at stake in Clark’s LNG dream.
Will that dream become a reality or a nightmare? I can hardly wait for the next election.
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and sometime dreamer.