Christy Clark sets aim to streamline environmental reviews

Christy Clark already has some of her battle plans set out if she gets elected as the new premier of B.C.

  • Jan. 19, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Christy Clark already has some of her battle plans set out if she gets elected as the new premier of B.C.

On the top of her list, going after the federal government to streamline environmental review.

“Job one, we want to make sure we’ll go to Ottawa, and we’ll do it very early should I be elected premier of the province … and we will start working right away on streamlining those environmental review processes,” said Clark. “I think that needs to be the first thing on our list of things we want to discuss with Ottawa. And I think they’ll be receptive to it.

During her question and answer session in the Sunshine Inn in Smithers last Thursday, she referred to the seemingly unending process that Prosperity Mine had to endure, passing the provincial process while failing the federal.

“That was an example of Ottawa saying ‘you people in British Columbia don’t know what you’re doing,’ and it was a rigorous process for that mine to go through.”

Settling the environmental process will set the tone of more secure investment in the province.

“When it takes 17 years to get a mine started, heavens knows how much more time it’s going to take than that, you scare investment away,” she said. “Investors want to know they’re going to start making money at some point. I look at this lack of clarity on environmental review as a huge red flag that scares investors away from the province, particularly in mining.”

She clarified a few things that the media had not portrayed entirely accurately. Among them suggestions that Clark wants to bring the HST matter to an open vote in legislature.

She said that she believes more information on the harmonized sales tax needs to be available for people to make an informed decision. From that information should be gathered from the people on how they view the HST. She said if the HST is destined to implode then the government may as well just go ahead and vote it down.

She noted that she believes that the HST is a good thing for the province but said it is a shame the way it was “foisted” on the province.

She also said that when it comes to the next provincial election, she’s not calling for an immediate one, but believes there should be a vote ahead of the 2013 set election date.

“There is a set election date in 2013, and I support set election dates. But the problem is, set election dates don’t anticipate a premier who could hang around in office, unelected, for two, two-and-a-half years,” she said.

Her call for an election would happen in the timeframe following an HST referendum.

Throughout her address to people, she said that Stikine should send a Liberal MLA to the legislature next time, but she told The Interior News that an NDP MLA wouldn’t be ignored.

“I think the premier has an obligation to listen to all MLAs in the legislature. Sometimes it’s difficult because the other party doesn’t make it easy for their MLAs to talk to the government. So part of it will depend on him and his willingness to work with the government on issues that are important to the community,” she said. “But it’s always way better to have someone who’s on the inside. For this community, because economic development is so important, why wouldn’t you send a B.C. Liberal to Victoria?”

Her many other ideas included distributing government services back throughout the province.

“I want to squish the services out from Victoria and send it out to the regions again. That’s what I ran on in 2001 and I still believe in that,” she said. “We have to make sure that the boots are on the ground in the communities that they serve. These bureaucrats that are making decisions should be living with the decisions that they make.”