An exchange between Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier of the Liberals, and Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, during Question Period on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.
M. Bernier: Six weeks ago this government ordered a rush review on the Site C project. Today’s preliminary report that was released actually reinforces the sham of the review that was taking place.
We’re in the midst of the single-largest infrastructure project in this province’s history. It’s going to bring energy self-sufficiency, it’s going to help B.C. grow, and it’s going to help families for generations to come. We also have heard that cancelling this project is going to cost an additional $3.2 billion.
Now, the BCUC has been very clear that they’re not going to be making any recommendations through this review. In fact, the political decision is going to be made solely by the Minister of Energy and Mines, by this Premier and by this government, on the future of Site C.
Surely, in light of the report that is out now…. Will the minister stand up, tell this House, tell British Columbians, but most importantly, tell the 2,600 people that are working right now at Site C that their jobs are secure?
Hon. M. Mungall: Thank you to the member for the question. I’m very honoured to be able to stand in this House and respond to the question as the new Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
What is clear, when it comes to Site C, is that British Columbians have a lot of questions, and they deserve answers. They deserve answers from an expert panel reviewing this independently. That should have been done years ago when it was the B.C. Liberals in charge.
The B.C. Liberals chose not to do that. They clearly have contempt for the independence of the B.C. Utilities Commission, and they chose to not put Site C through the B.C. Utilities Commission.
That was wrong. That was the wrong choice. This government knows that it was the wrong choice, and that’s why we’ve asked B.C. Utilities Commission to get the answers to the questions that British Columbians have.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Peace River South on a supplemental.
M. Bernier: Well, the only contempt we’re seeing now is for the workers in the province of British Columbia. It’s clear: the only risk to this project are political decisions that are going to be made by the government right now.
The B.C. Utilities Commission has confirmed that Site C can actually be completed one year ahead of schedule if this government does not slow things down. There are timelines in place that have to be met. The river needs to be diverted by next September. Work needs to be completed. Contracts have been out. People are working on site right now.
This government is actually putting those jobs at risk, they’re putting businesses at risk, and they’re putting the future of this project at risk, only for nothing more than the political grandstanding they’re doing right now.
The minister needs to stand up and be clear on this issue. There is too much uncertainty right now around this project that this government has created. Will she stand up, talk about the future of the province, the benefit of this project and remind all of the workers at Site C that they’ll be going to work tomorrow and they’ll be going to work to finish this project one year ahead of schedule, continuing now?
Hon. M. Mungall: The only people that put anybody at risk when it comes to Site C are the B.C. Liberals. When they refused to do due diligence, when they refused….
Mr. Speaker: Members, the minister has the floor.
Hon. M. Mungall: It’s your time.
It was the B.C. Liberals who put everybody at risk in British Columbia when they absolutely refused to have the B.C. Utilities Commission do the due diligence, do the independent review by experts, that British Columbians deserve.
The only people….
Hon. M. Mungall: We appreciate that people’s lives are on hold right now and that they’re wondering where their future is at. That’s why we’re providing a timely review. British Columbians, including the workers, have questions about this project. They deserve answers. The B.C. Utilities Commission is going to deliver on those answers.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. M. Mungall: The B.C. Utilities Commission is going to deliver on those answers. We’re going to be taking that into consideration — something that the B.C. Liberals should have done years ago.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Peace River South on a second supplemental.
M. Bernier: Through the review and the expert panel saying that this government slowing down the project is going to cost the taxpayers of British Columbia billions and billions of dollars if they don’t finish off with the project…. The uncertainty that’s actually being created right now for 2,600 workers needs to be addressed.
In fact, the minister came up to the area. It was a nice flyover, I know. It’s too bad she didn’t actually stop and go onto the site and talk to those 2,600 families, those people that are working on site, the contractors that are there. The minister should have actually stopped and talked to them.
More importantly, she should have witnessed the actual project to see how great that project is proceeding and the work that’s actually taking place, the hard work for families in British Columbia that’s happening there right now.
All the minister has done and all this government has done is bring uncertainty, not necessarily just to the project but to the families and to the people working there. The minister needs to stand up and confirm for those people today that their jobs are secure, that they can go out and buy a house, that they can put food on the table for their families and that they’ll be able to continue working at Site C until that project is complete.
Hon. M. Mungall: From day one, the B.C. Liberals, when they were in power and to this day, clearly are the ones playing politics with Site C.
If they had any respect for British Columbians, if they had any respect for how we actually do hydro projects in this province, they would have allowed the B.C. Utilities Commission to review this when it was supposed to be done years ago. They failed to do that. That was the wrong choice. British Columbians are quite upset about that choice. They’re the ones that have put everybody at risk as a result of their failure and as a result of their contempt for the B.C. Utilities Commission.
That is not how this government operates. We respect that independence. We respect British Columbians’ desire for answers. We’re going to get that for them through the B.C. Utilities Commission, where those answers are supposed to be coming from.
Source: BC Hansard, draft transcript.