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Liberals touting benefits of liquid natural gas

Richard Gilbert

The B.C. Liberal Party’s election campaign chair has a strategy to return Christy Clark to the premier’s office in the next provincial election, which is based on promoting the benefits of building a new liquid natural gas (LNG) industry by 2020.

“I sat down the other day with the 10 proposals that I am seeing in front of me in relation to one new industry in B.C. called liquid natural gas,” said B.C.’s Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman.

“And all I did was add up the top seven (projects) and their infrastructure. Their intention, if successful, would be $75 billion in capital and construction in British Columbia over the next seven years. And that would all be private sector.”

Coleman outlined the impact that developing a new LNG industry would have on the B.C. economy to a group of construction industry leaders, during the annual CEO Breakfast at Buildex Vancouver on Feb. 13.

As the chair of the B.C. Liberal’s election campaign and minister of energy and mines, Coleman is spearheading the effort to win the next provincial election, which is set to take place on May 14, 2013.

He is spreading the word about the progress the provincial government is making in turning the vision of a new industry into a reality.

“In the last two years, I have never seen a government more focused on getting something done as this particular project,” said Coleman.

“I think we are going to get between three to five plants minimum. And if we get the five, it’s over $1 trillion of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the next 30 years to British Columbia.”

Coleman recently released the results of a study on the potential employment impacts created by LNG development in B.C.

Assuming two larger- and three smaller-sized LNG plants, along with supporting pipelines, the ministry anticipates on average more than 39,000 annual jobs will be created over a nine-year construction period.

This total has been broken down into three categories, which includes: direct jobs such as trades, other onsite skilled labour and professional services required to build the LNG projects (11,400 jobs); indirect jobs or employees working in industries that will be supplying goods and services to support project construction (22,100 jobs); and induced jobs that are generated when workers earn income and buy goods and services from a variety of sectors in communities near the LNG projects (5,900 jobs).

This includes purchases of retail goods; food and beverages; residential home construction, renovations and repair; travel, arts, entertainment, recreation and accommodation.

Coleman then went on to argue that the future success of B.C. is also tied to political factors such as the success of the B.C. Liberals in the next election.

He said this point is critical because the B.C. New Democratic Party (NDP) is ahead of the Liberals in the polls and they don’t support the development of the LNG industry.

The B.C. Liberal Party and their backers are concerned that they are behind in the polls going into the next election.

“If the provincial election were held today, the NDP would win in a landslide,” said Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, which sponsored the CEO Breakfast.

“And time is running out for the B.C. Liberals to close the gap with the NDP before May 13.”

According to a poll released by Ekos Politics on Feb. 14, the B.C. NDP is poised to defeat the B.C. Liberals in the next provincial election.

In particular, the Liberals are estimated to have about 27.4 per cent of the provincial vote, which is almost 12 points behind the NDP, who are estimated to have a 39 per cent share.

“When I took on the role as the campaign chair, we were 25 points behind,” said Coleman.

“Today we are 10. I said when I took it over, that if I could get the premier within 10 points on the day of the writ, we would beat the NDP.”

To achieve this objective, Coleman said it was necessary to give more than just a financial contribution to the Liberal Party.

For this reason, he asked ICBA members and other construction leaders to make sure their employees know how important it is for everyone to vote for a free-enterprise government in the next election.

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