FRIDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — This has been an embarrassing couple of weeks for the B.C. Liberals.
There was the revelation that an ICBC computer error had created a $110-million mess by over-charging and under-charging for auto insurance on some of its clients over the past six years.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone had to issue a written statement assuring motorists they wouldn’t have to pay for the mistake.
Earlier this week, the government issued a press release announcing exemptions from mandatory environmental assessments on most natural gas produced in B.C. It’s called “sweet gas,” which makes up most of the natural gas in the province. Sweet gas, as opposed to sour gas, contains one per cent or less toxic hydrogen sulphide that must be removed.
Within two days, the government had to reverse the exemption and start from scratch.
The problem: First Nations hadn’t been consulted.
Environment Minister Mary Polak had to issue a statement: “Our government is committed to a strong, respectful and productive relationship with First nations. That is why we will rescind the amendment that would have removed the requirement for an environmental assessment for sweet gas facilities and destination resorts, until we have undertaken discussions with First Nations.”
How embarrassing. Issuing written statements seems to be what ministers of the Crown do these days.
Equally embarrassing must have been the scene at a meeting with First Nations in Fort Nelson to discuss liquified natural gas when government bureaucrats were asked to leave in the wake of the exemption announcement.
The reversal of the exampltions isn’t going quite far enough as far as several First Nations are concerned. They want to meet with Premier Christy Clark to discuss the amendments. The ever-outspoken Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is quoted as saying, “In a stunningly stupid move, the province has effectively declared war on all B.C. First nations and jeopardized all LNG discussions throughout the entire province of B.C.”
That’s harsh, but it is quite amazing that the Liberals should neglect such an obvious consultation. The situation will correct itself if Clark invites the chiefs to meet with her and consultation gets back on track, and the rhetoric will subside, but such gaffs don’t make for a good week for the government.