B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver stepped up his symbolic protest against the NDP government’s tax breaks for natural gas exports, walking out of the legislature with his fellow MLAs to let the opposition win a vote.
“This is the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals’ legislation,” Weaver wrote on Twitter after the three Green MLAs intentionally skipped the vote Tuesday evening. “They now walk hand in hand in giving handouts to a fossil fuel project that will be Canada’s largest source of emissions.”
My #BCGreen caucus colleagues and I have abstained from voting on the LNG amendment brought forward by the BC Liberals. We will play no part in debating, passing or defeating an amendment on a piece of legislation we fundamentally oppose. #bcpoli
— Andrew Weaver (@AJWVictoriaBC) April 3, 2019
The vote on an amendment was a tie, 41 to 41, after Weaver and the Greens left the chamber. B.C. Liberal MLA Joan Isaacs, the assistant deputy speaker who was presiding over debate, cast the deciding vote with the opposition. The result was to force the NDP government to keep a provision to make its project agreement with LNG Canada public.
While the outcome doesn’t change the province’s deal to support LNG Canada’s $40 billion investment in a pipeline and gas export facilities at Kitimat, it demonstrates the tension in the minority government as the B.C. Greens continue to keep the NDP in power.
B.C. Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, a former Haisla Nation chief and long-time backer of LNG projects for the Kitimat area, was scornful of the Green protest.
“Man this is shameful,” Ross tweeted after the vote. “The Green Party left the house so they wouldn’t have to vote against the NDP on accountability. Then they come back in after the vote is over to vote no on LNG.”
That was an embarrassing day for the BCGREENS. They DID NOT abstain. They ran out of the house so they wouldn’t have to vote on BCNDP accountability
— Ellis Ross (@ellisbross) April 3, 2019
The votes came after a long debate on the LNG tax breaks, which repeal the Christy Clark government’s LNG income tax, extend the commercial rate for electricity to LNG Canada, and defer provincial sales tax payment until the project begins shipping liquefied gas to Asia.
B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong spent much of the day Tuesday pressing Finance Minister Carole James on making the project agreement public, and on the lack of a formal agreement on how many temporary foreign workers would be used in construction.
LNG Canada is a consortium of Shell, Korea Gas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi of Japan and Petronas, a Malaysian-based energy giant.