In light of revelations that Woodfibre LNG (WFLNG) and its representatives donated more than $160,000 to the BC Liberal party between 2013 and 2017, Dana Taylor, BC Green Party candidate for the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding in the May 9 provincial election, feels the project needs another look.
"I'm not the only one to imagine the connection between the successful delivery of the approval of an LNG plant, and the fact that these contributions have been made to the Liberal Party, the governing party of the day," Taylor said. "People are upset with the fact that we seem to have a government by donation."
The Green Party's position is essentially a "no to LNG, and that includes Woodfibre," Taylor said.
On April 6, WFLNG announced that the National Energy Board has granted an extension of its export licence, from 25 years to 40 years.
But the project should be put on hold, "and if nothing else, the export licence extension warrants a second look," Taylor said.
Incumbent Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy called the WFLNG donations "irrelevant."
"Somebody has asked me whether it's made any impact on my decisions or my positions, and frankly it's irrelevant to me," he said.
In 2015, WFLNG bought tables at one of his fundraisers, but "I don't get involved in fundraising at all, so I couldn't tell you who's donated, to tell you the truth," Sturdy said, adding that he supports Premier Christy Clark's position on addressing illegal donations.
"She has committed to appointing an expert panel, in very much the way that we do boundary reform," he said. "I have confidence in that process."
In regards to the Environmental Assessment processes attached to WFLNG, Sturdy pointed out that there were assessments done on three levels — provincial, federal and by the Squamish Nation itself, which resulted in a number of conditions attached to the project.
The project that was eventually approved is also much different than what was first proposed, Sturdy noted, pointing to things like the switch to an on-land, electric-powered, air-cooled plant.
"That's a pretty significant difference, so I think the EA process was effective" he said. "To imply that it was a rubber stamp and there was no legitimacy I fundamentally disagree with that."
The BC NDP's full platform had yet to be released as of Pique's press time, but Michelle Livaja, NDP candidate for the riding, said party leader John Horgan has come out in support of WFLNG and the economic activity it will bring.
"I like that he does acknowledge the fact that there is still an uphill battle to meet the environmental conditions that were put forward by the Squamish Nation," Livaja said. "He has said that for any oil and gas projects you need to meet the environmental conditions, it needs to provide job training and jobs for local people — none of this bringing in outside workers — and it does need to minimize climate change emissions."
In a more general sense, Livaja said she's excited about the opportunities presented by things like the new Green Tech Centre in Squamish and PassivHaus technology in Pemberton.
"I think there is potential for green energy jobs in this province. We could turn British Columbia into a green-energy superpower if the will was there," she said. "So supporting those initiatives, that research, and whatever is needed to make that happen I think would be a really exciting opportunity for the province and for our riding in particular."
For independent candidate Tristan Galbraith, the discussion around the environment is about being proactive in three easy areas: encouraging people to recycle and pollute less, use their vehicles less, and encourage more farm-to-table agriculture practices.
"I just think that it's important that our region does not lose its sense of environmentalism, and that we take an environmentalist approach to everything we do," Galbraith said. "Another thing is to not be consumed by the big companies and corporations, and when we're buying products consider small businesses more... there is just a lot of waste in our economy."