Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan speaks at his first caucus meeting as leader Monday.

Horgan holds course on resource projects

B.C. doesn't currently need the Site C dam, and it does need a study of the impact of fracking, NDP leader says

VICTORIA – B.C. doesn’t currently need a third dam on the Peace River, and it does need a comprehensive study of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction.

John Horgan staked out those positions Monday, his first day at the legislature since being acclaimed leader of the B.C. NDP, saying he has been consistent on both since before last year’s election.

On the proposal by Kinder Morgan Canada to twin its oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby that former leader Adrian Dix suddenly opposed during the 2013 campaign, Horgan said it’s clear to him that people in Vancouver and Burnaby don’t want it. The same goes for his own constituents along the Strait of Juan de Fuca who are concerned about a big increase in tanker traffic, he said.

But he will wait for the current federal review process to be completed before making a decision whether to support or oppose it, Horgan said.

He also responded to Jobs Minister Shirley Bond’s challenge in Monday’s question period that the NDP find some economic development project it can say yes to.

“I said yes to Mount Milligan, I said yes to Red Chris,” Horgan said, referring to two northern copper mines proposed while the NDP was in government. “I said yes to expanding the Oil and Gas Commission when it was first developed in the 1990s. I believe that we can have a balanced approach to economic development and resource development in particular.”

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman rejected suggestions of hydraulic fracturing risk to groundwater before leaving last week with Premier Christy Clark for their latest liquefied natural gas sales trip to Asia.

Coleman said the industry has a spotless track record after 50 years of cementing and casing gas wells to protect water while drilling far below to extract gas from shale formations.

Since winning the leadership by default after his only rival, Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, dropped out, Horgan has stressed the need to reach out to resource communities and blue-collar workers alienated by the party’s environmental positions.

Horgan said he will travel extensively as leader to build support for the party, preparing it to win back support and form an NDP government in 2017.


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