Parts of Leap Manifesto make ‘no sense’ for B.C., NDP Leader John Horgan says

Justine Hunter

Apr. 11, 2016 - B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan wants to form a common front with the Alberta NDP government in opposition to the federal party’s proposed policy manifesto aiming to wean Canada off fossil fuels by 2050.

Mr. Horgan is currently under fire from labour leaders for his opposition to two major energy projects in B.C. on environmental grounds.

Mr. Horgan told reporters on Monday that the so-called Leap Manifesto, which also calls for an end to all new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources, does not reflect the values of British Columbians.

“It’s a document that I don’t embrace personally. There are elements in the document that make sense and there are elements that make no sense for British Columbia. So we won’t proceed under any kind of manifesto in the next 12 months under my leadership.”

Mr. Horgan was responding to a decision of delegates at the federal NDP convention last weekend to debate the manifesto in advance of its 2018 policy convention. Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley had called on delegates to instead support the construction of pipelines to get Alberta oil to tidewater.

The B.C. Liberal Party hopes to use the Leap Manifesto to add to its efforts to portray the B.C. NDP as a threat to job creation. Speaking at the annual convention of the BC Building Trades unions, Labour Minister Shirley Bond said the Leap Manifesto is an attack on jobs and the NDP is tacitly supporting it.

“The NDP is one party across the country. When you are able to stand in the province of Alberta, in the economic circumstances they find themselves in, and simply say ‘No’ to anything to do with resource extraction, I think that sends an unbelievable message to the rest of the country,” she told reporters.

Ms. Bond also told the union delegates gathered in Victoria she will work with them to win approval for major energy projects including the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant near Prince Rupert, an $11.4-billion liquefied natural gas terminal on Lelu Island, which the NDP opposes. The NDP has also fought the construction of the province’s biggest public-sector infrastructure project, the $9-billion Site C hydroelectric dam.

“When you are talking about no jobs at Site C, no jobs in liquefied natural gas, you are saying ‘No’ to workers in this province,” Ms. Bond said.

Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the BC Building Trades, warmly thanked Ms. Bond for her remarks and invited her to attend the national trade union convention in May, where she is expected to talk about joint efforts to enhance union apprenticeship training programs in British Columbia.

“We talk about work in British Columbia for British Columbians first. We want to see that and I know you want to see that as well,” he told Ms. Bond, who received a standing ovation from the union delegates.

NDP MLA Carole James was invited to speak after Ms. Bond, but received a public rebuke from Mr. Sigurdson on the podium over her party’s handling of energy construction projects. Mr. Sigurdson said he was “absolutely shocked” that the NDP would come out against the Pacific NorthWest project – and to do so without warning him in advance.

“It was a slap upside the head,” he said to Ms. James. “I know there might be good reason for your caucus to have taken that position, but at the same time, we have been working hard on that and it would have been a little more respectful if there had been an opportunity for us to have had, at least, some notice.”

Ms. James told reporters she was not surprised by the reception at the convention, and said it shows her party needs to do a better job of explaining which projects it does support. “The message I take is that we need to do a better job of communicating the importance of jobs in British Columbia and the job plans that we have put in place.”