B.C. Green Party leader promises NDP government will fall if it pursues 'LNG folly'

The "line in the sand," as Weaver called it, came at the same time a group of municipal and First Nations leaders were meeting in Prince George to draft a letter demanding government support for LNG.

Threat comes as northern B.C. mayors demand support for LNG projects

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said on Twitter that he would pull support for the NDP if it pursues LNG development. (Mike McArthur)

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver took to Twitter Wednesday, promising the NDP will lose its ability to govern if it continues to pursue the development of the province's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

"Lest there be any doubt, let me be perfectly clear: NDP government will fall in non confidence if after all that has happened it continues to pursue LNG folly #bcpoli #lineinthesand," Weaver wrote on Twitter, linking to an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun.

Premier John Horgan told the Sun writer that while in Asia later this month, he will confirm his openness to a proposed LNG export terminal in Kitimat, B.C., proposed by Royal Dutch Shell in partnership with Chinese, Japanese and Korean investors. Shell says it will proceed with B.C. energy plans despite political uncertainty.

The Greens agreed to support the NDP because of their "supposed commitment" to greenhouse gas reduction, Weaver said. "A push for LNG means they are not serious."

A spokesperson for the B.C. Green Party said the party is concerned about keeping the province within emissions targets, and that negotiations with the NDP would be initiated before moving to a non-confidence vote.

Northern mayors demand support for gas industry

Weaver's Twitter comments came at the same time a group of municipal and First Nations leaders were meeting in Prince George to draft a letter demanding government support for LNG.

The mayors of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John in B.C.'s northeast — where gas for the export facility would come from — joined forces with Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth and Haisla Nation councillor Kevin Stewart (known as Tum'un'la'ha) to demand the province "strongly support" LNG development.

Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead speaks about why he believes the government must support the natural gas industry while supporters of his message join him on stage at the Natural Resources Forum in Prince George. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

On Thursday morning, the four stood on the stage of the Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, and invited everyone who supports the LNG industry to join them while they spoke in favour of the industry.

Stewart said it had been a "steep learning curve," but he believes LNG development will "make lives better" by creating jobs and economic development for youth in his community.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said export facilities to Asia are needed for the economic future of B.C., so it is less dependent on the United States.

"That is not a country I want to be tied to the hip to," she said.

Ackerman also said she didn't know why Weaver was voicing his opposition to LNG, since he seemed supportive during an earlier visit to the region.

"[He said] as long as the industry was developed in a responsible, sustainable matter… then he would be open to seeing it come to fruition," she said. "It's an interesting shift."

At the same conference, Horgan presented himself Wednesday as a champion of B.C.'s resource industry, while acknowledging his party's dependence on the Greens to maintain the ability to govern.  

Speaking to over 900 delegates, Horgan said he was measuring his time as premier in "weeks" because of his position as leader of a minority government, and promised to communicate the importance of the resource industry, including natural gas, to both voters in urban centers and to foreign leaders in an upcoming trade mission to Asia.

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks to delegates at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

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About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

@akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is a radio producer and digital journalist in northern British Columbia, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George.