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Falcon proposes northern prosperity

Kitimat’s Tim Rice, with daughter Alex, speaks to BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon during his stop in Terrace Jan. 21.  - KAT LEE PHOTO
Kitimat’s Tim Rice, with daughter Alex, speaks to BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon during his stop in Terrace Jan. 21.
— image credit: KAT LEE PHOTO

BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon pushed the Northwest Transmission Line, the Asia-Pacific corridor, and expanded port facilities in Prince Rupert as some of the ways to make the north prosperous.

The Surrey-Cloverdale MLA made his pitch for the leadership job to around 25 Terrace and Kitimat residents at the Best Western the morning of Jan. 21, going through his record as the minister of state for de-regulation, transportation minister, and recent post as health minister.

“We have to...get back to being builders again,” he said in terms of getting people back to work.

“We have to open up new markets for our products, and we have to be aggressive about courting those markets,” he said during a media scrum in Terrace. “The other things we have to do is make sure we’re opening up mines and projects in rural British Columbia.”

Falcon pointed out that Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing part of the world, something that would change the north if BC builds up trade there.

“Resource, minerals are going to be in huge demand in the years ahead, and I think that’s an opportunity...for a rebirth...of northern rural economies,” he said.

And that’s where the Northwest Transmission Line comes in; it’s an important part of opening up resource and power opportunities in the northwest, he said.

When asked about the possibility of improving the Cranberry Connector, which connects the Nass Valley with Hwy37 North and serves as the region’s secondary transportation route in case of problems on Hwy 16, Falcon pointed out that there are lots of parts of the province that have only single road access.

“The challenge with the Cranberry Connector has always been the same,” he said, adding that there has been a study done on the road. “It is a huge investment, and it has a very weak business case.”

Falcon took the same position when he was transportation minister.

But he did acknowledge that work through the Northwest Transmission Line could add more use on this road, but said at this point, it would not be the best use of money to improve the Connector.

In terms of the harmonized sales tax, Falcon called it “a good example of a good tax policy ineptly introduced,” saying he would make sure the public had all the information it needed before voting on it in September.

But he doesn’t believe the HST is as big of an issue anymore, saying people have had time to get over their anger and have analyzed the situation.

He did propose reducing the HST by one per cent initially, and another one per cent when affordable.

Falcon has put out his Northern Prosperity Agenda, in which he says the north would be a government priority. He would also open an office in Prince George.

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