NDP's Shane Simpson worries that B.C. Liberal government focus on LNG comes at a price
The new B.C. NDP critic for economic development, Shane Simpson, says he wants to focus on the diversification of B.C.'s economy.
In a phone interview with the Straight, Simpon said that the B.C. Liberal government's preoccupation with creating a liquefied-natural-gas industry "has been at the expense of attention to a number of other sectors".
He listed forestry, mining, and high-tech as three examples.
"It's almost impossible to get much meaningful attention out of the government," Simpson alleged. "So it becomes an issue of saying, 'Okay, let's talk about how we can improve that.' "
Simpson, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Hastings, is also the new B.C. NDP critic for jobs, labour and skills.
He suggested that one key measure of economic development should be the number of family-supporting jobs that are being created.
"If it's not doing that, is it generating levels of revenue that help support government programs like health and education, and are putting extra resources in there?" Simpson added.
Thirdly, he said that economic development must also "address the realities of environmental issues and First Nations".
Simpson said the fall session of the legislature will likely focus around the royalty regime being created for the LNG industry.
It comes at a time when LNG prices have fallen significantly in Asia, raising questions about the viability of the entire LNG enterprise in B.C.
"My sense is nobody is going to consider a deal, none of the companies, until they actually know what the rules are," Simpson said. "And they're going to want to see them in law."