AS welcome as they might have been, the recent visits by energy and mines minister Bill Bennett, aboriginal relations minister John Rustad and Coralee Oakes, who is responsible for local governments, to talk about the potential of liquefied natural gas (LNG) were just that – visits.
What’s missing so far in the provincial government’s ramping up of what it’s calling a generational opportunity to make billions in tax dollars and provide an economic foundation for decades is an on-the-ground presence in the northwest.
There’s no central provincial office to dispense even the most base level of information. Snap quiz – how many LNG proposals are there? What exactly, in 500 words or less, is fracking? Sounds terrifying. But is it really?
Without a solid knowledge of what’s involved and what’s at stake how can the northwest even begin to understand what is surely one of the more complex issues the region has ever faced?
In the absence of a provincial information presence, the field will be left to others to define the issue, chiefly the LNG industry and those who oppose it.
And that ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ approach automatically sets up a confrontational approach where hard-core positions will not do anyone any good.
If LNG is to change the face of the northwest, the province must act decisively so that its citizens can make informed decisions.