Budget bad for BC economy' say Greens
Released by Jane Sterk, BC Green Party
Green Party of BC believes the Harper Conservative's budget is bad
news for BC's economy in three areas: the accelerated approval of
large resource development projects retroactively applied to the
Northern Gateway Proposal; the increase in the value of tax exempt
good purchased in the US during short-term stays; and, the
cancellation of the EcoENERGY energy efficiency program and
renewable energy program.
BC Greens think the provincial government has a duty to stand up for
BC. While the BC Liberal government supports a single environmental
process led by the province, the changes to be legislated by the
federal government are opposed by the vast majority of British
So called "streamlining" of
the environmental assessment process is actually weakening an
already flawed review. The changes are designed to get large and
environmentally damaging projects, specifically the Enbridge
Northern Gateway pipeline approved quickly. It is obvious the
government wants to silence First Nations and those with
environmental and economic concerns and it's using the budget, an
inappropriate way to legislate changes to environmental protection,
to do so.
The fact that changes will apply retroactively to the Enbridge
Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal is unacceptable and unprecedented
given that hearings are in progress and scheduled to continue beyond
the time-frame specified in the budget. The federal government has
said repeatedly it wants the project approved and have denigrated
those who oppose the pipeline.
This budget repeats their
belief that environmental groups should not be able to express an
opinion. The Green Party of BC hopes this encourages environmental
groups to remove themselves from non-profit designation that allows
the government to limit their activism.
The Green Party agrees that the environmental assessment process
needs to change and there needs to be clear guidelines for
evaluating projects, both for proponents and those British
Columbians who are impacted by the proposed development. BC Greens
reject the federally imposed deadlines and processes which are
designed to further weaken environmental standards and to approve
quickly all resource development projects.
A Green government would act in the best interest of the citizens of
BC while respecting First Nations land and title rights. A Green
government would require the proposing and the opposing parties to
produce financial assessments that account for measurable economic,
environmental, social and cultural impacts. The environmental
assessment expert panel reviewing the project would be appointed by
an arms length agency and the panel would serve on behalf of the
people of BC, not industry or the government, especially not the
Final decisions would be based on the impact of the project on the
sustainable long-term well being of British Columbia and
recommendations would be founded in science and evidence that
demonstrates benefits - both long and short term - outweigh the
negative impacts of the project. In addition all negative impacts
would need a plan for mitigation and project proponents will be
fully liable for all costs.
The provision in the federal budget to increase the value of
tax-exempt goods from $50 to $200 for day trip cross border
shoppers" is terrible for BC businesses especially those close to US
border communities. The increase is designed to encourage British
Columbians to shop in the States, something that is already
happening at a rate that is bad for BC retailers. It is not the job
of our federal government to improve the retail economy of the US
when such action is completely unnecessary and adds no financial
benefit to the budget.
The direct result will be an erosion of retail base that will hurt
local retailers and cost local jobs. In turn, that will shrink the
sales tax base and the income tax base for the province as well as
the Federal government. Retail dollars spent in the US do not pay
for the infrastructure (health care, education, roads, etc.) in BC.
The Green Party of BC would
rather see the Federal government use the expected drop in its sales
tax revenue to look for ways to level the playing field for BC
retailers (like cutting government red-tape and regulations that
impose added costs to BC retailers). We call on the BC Liberal
government to negotiate with the federal government for a better
deal for BC's retailers.
The decision to not continue the ecoEnergy - Retrofit Homes program
is another bad move. This program was creating local jobs while
helping to reduce citizens' carbon footprint. Canadian and BC
retrofit programs have had limited success in reaching a broad
spectrum of homeowners. For the most part, they have ignored renters
and low-income residents. Limits on the number of program
participants and money allocated to the programs in federal and
provincial budgets have curtailed participation.
That suggests the program needs to be reformed, not scrapped. There
are many different ways to grow an economy. A deep energy retrofit
program targeting Canadian residential and commercial buildings
would generate many more jobs and create much more wealth and
through savings, and produce way more energy than the planned Harper
initiatives that will assist some 500 resource development projects
and require $500 billion of investment. The Green Party of BC asks
the federal government to reinstate the program and improve its
accessibility for more homeowners.
A budget is about choices. BC Greens believe provinces and Canadians
should have a voice in those choices. In these three areas, the
Federal budget is bad for BC.
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice