Bruce Ralston, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, was in the Peace last week, touring the area and meeting with local officials.
“One of the things I wanted to let people know is that I and the government and the premier understand the importance of the Northeast to the BC economy, and the jobs here are not only important to the region, but to British Columbia,” he told the Mirror. “Whatever we can do to make that happen, and to let the region continue to grow is what we want to do.”
He met with the Mayors of DC, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, and Fort St. John, as well as DC Chamber of Commerce executive director Kathleen Connolly, spending much of his time in the South Peace. He went on tours of the Louisiana Pacific expansion and of Conuma Coal, and noted he hit the museum in Tumbler Ridge.
He wrapped up his tour with a speech at the Coal and Energy Forum in Chetwynd, where he noted he was “pinch hitting” for Michelle Mungall, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, who had a child in July.
He talked about the importance of resources in the Northeast, specifically coal.
“Sometimes it’s not appreciated in the Lower Mainland and some of the more urban areas, that the degree to which resources and the export of resources is a solid basis to our economy,” explains the Surrey-Whalley MLA.
“Coal is our single biggest export — people don’t always realize that. Metallurgical coals, steel making coals are linked to a lot of other industries that are sometimes thought of as more futuristic, whether it’s wind power, or lithium batteries, or any of that kind of stuff. Steel making coal is important for obviously making steel, and steel is increasingly important as we move towards a greener planet.”
He also spoke to LNG.
“I think we have taken a competitive look at the LNG framework, and we’re optimistic that LNG Canada will make a decision to go forward, which will trigger hopefully a big investment which will have an impact on gas producers here in the region.”
A question and answer period that followed his speech at the forum was calm, however, one participant asked him for the government’s thinking on the new payroll tax — a decision he stood by.
“One of the commitments made by the Premier and the campaign was to abolish MSP premiums,” he told the audience member. “Many other provinces have a payroll tax like that, we thought that was fairest way to go.”