Give Premier John Horgan and the NDP credit for having the courage to jump down the Site C rabbit hole.
They could have taken the easy way out and not campaigned on reviewing Site C. They could have said the project was too far gone to take a second look. After they formed government, they could have taken the easy way out and said the project was too far gone and let sleeping dogs lie.
They ordered the British Columbia Utilities Commission review (which should have been ordered by the Liberals) knowing full well they would face the tough, tough decision of saying ‘yeah’ or ‘nay.’
There is no doubt it was a tough decision for the NDP cabinet. Yes, the pain was self-inflicted, but the decision to inflict that pain was the right thing to do and self-inflicted pain is still pain.
The difficulty for the NDP, of course, was that in their heart-of-hearts they wanted to cancel the project. Finding facts that support your position isn’t hard. Finding facts and then taking a position is a rarity these days. And that’s what the NDP did.
Yes, it was a political decision and the NDP undoubtedly carefully weighed the political fallout of both decisions before choosing what they believe to be the path of least political resistance. There are already suggestions of recall campaigns and groups springing up vowing to not forget this decision come the next provincial election. And they probably won’t.
Site C was, and is, a divisive issue in this province and it’s an issue that voters will remember next time the go to the polls.
It was a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ decision for the NDP. Another tough part for the NDP is they lost political capital with Indigenous groups and environmental groups, which are traditionally more closed aligned with the NDP than the Liberals. In addition, I don’t think the decision gains the NDP political much capital with business and/or industry groups, who will continue to lobby for the ouster of the NDP.
The decision does, however, show the province that Andrew Weaver and the Green Party caucus aren’t pulling all the strings in Victoria. That, and showing the courage to make a decision that costs them politically, is where there is gain for the NDP.
Which brings us to the Liberals. Monday’s decision was a perfect opportunity for the Liberals to be gracious.
They could have taken the high road, credited the government for making what the Liberals believe to be the right decision, and left it at that.
But no. They couldn’t resist resorting to their usual sniping and denigration. They couldn’t resist going back to the 1990s, which they did, unsuccessfully, in the election.
“We will be watching carefully to make sure there are no unnecessary costs that British Columbians will have to pay for on this project like past NDP-led projects, such as the Island Highway which faced extra costs,” said Tracy Redies, BC Hydro critic and MLA for Surrey-White Rock.
I can picture her wagging her finger with her best stern-face on. Check Liberal MLA social feeds and you’ll see Island Highway over and over again.
It’s a little rich considering the fact the the NDP inherited the project that … wait for it … already had cost overruns from the Liberal government. Like the Liberals never had cost overruns on anything. Pot, kettle … you know the rest.
Like I said, the Liberals had an opportunity score political points by being gracious but instead resorted to their age-old, and tiresome, sniping.
It’s a good thing I’m not an NDP strategist because my recommendation is for the NDP to build Site C as fast as they can so they can name it the Dave Barrett Dam.
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond provided the following correction to this column:
Interesting views, you may want to review Hansard from estimates of the Minister of Energy – who confirmed in the Legislature that the project was on time and budget in June! And ask the NDP why they announced a rate freeze without going to the BCUC? https://t.co/660WHAplfI
— Shirley Bond (@shirleybond) December 13, 2017