With a rejuvenated Premier Christy Clark at the head of a re-elected BC Liberal government, the question for the northwest is what now?
Despite the northwest being Ground Zero of the importance the premier places on a potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry as the economic saviour of the province, voters in all three northwest ridings didn’t quite follow suit, choosing instead to elect NDP MLAs. Fears of oil pipelines, even with Ms. Clark’s already-declared stringent conditions, and on-the-ground campaigning also contributed to the shut out.
Without an elected voice within the political machinery of the provincial government, it will be difficult for the region to stake out any kind of economic development ground.
What needs to happen is a summit of local governments and the three NDP MLAs to establish a common front by hammering out some common themes. Terrace and the Kitimat-Stikine regional district have already done some preliminary work regarding revenue sharing.
Such an approach won’t be partisan in the political party sense but will be partisan in that it will put the best interests of the region first.
And given the key economic role the province wants the northwest to play it can’t afford to ignore or aggravate the region if it wants to translate its election promises into cash flow for the provincial treasury.
There’s a deal to be made if both parties act honourably.