New Democrats challenge Liberals to support made-in-B.C. environmental assessment

VICTORIA – New Democrats challenged the Liberal government to support a made-in-B.C. environmental assessment process that reasserts British Columbia’s jurisdiction and recognizes the challenges of our province’s unique wilderness and coastline.

New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming put forward a motion in the legislature Monday calling for the house to support withdrawing from the equivalency agreement with the federal government, which would return the decision-making authority to the province over proposals like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

“When the B.C. Liberal government signed the 2010 equivalency agreement they surrendered decision-making to Ottawa, leaving no one in the review process to represent British Columbia’s interests,” said Fleming. “The assessment panel didn’t include a single person from British Columbia and the Liberal government failed to submit a single piece of written evidence in defence of our sensitive ecosystems and coastal economy.”

Fleming noted that, as the process draws to a close in the coming months, the B.C. government only has limited time left to serve the 30 days’ notice required to opt out of the agreement.

“British Columbia deserves better. Adrian Dix and the New Democrats are proposing practical steps to protect our province including giving notice that we will withdraw from the equivalency agreement so that B.C.’s voices are heard and B.C.’s interests are protected,” said Fleming.

Also in the legislature Monday:

  • New Democrat leader Adrian Dix introduced the Government Advertising Act that would end the practice of governments using taxpayer dollars to fund partisan ads and ensure all government advertising is reviewed and approved by the Auditor General.
  • Question Period debate centred around the gross mismanagement and waste by the B.C. Liberals in botching the implementation of new computer systems across government. The Liberals have mismanaged the $200 million Integrated Case Management System, which was supposed to improve services for vulnerable British Columbians, the $100 million student information system (BCeSIS), which is now being scrapped and must be replaced, and the B.C. justice system's case management system, JUSTIN, which the Auditor General recently reported is vulnerable to privacy breaches and cannot even determine if a breach occurs.

The B.C. Liberals are not up to the challenges that face B.C. today, and British Columbians deserve better. It's time for a change to a new government with new priorities. B.C.'s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.