Tom Fletcher talks carbon tax, government ads with Christy Clark

Premier Christy Clark sat down with Tom Fletcher for a year-end interview at her Victoria office Dec. 9. Here are excerpts.

Premier Christy Clark sat down with Tom Fletcher for a year-end interview at her Victoria office Dec. 9. Here are excerpts. For the full version, see the Opinion tab at www.lakecowichangazette.com

TF: At the UN climate conference in Paris, did you speak about natural gas as a transition fuel, and did you find support for that idea?

PCC: Yes and yes. The new government in Ottawa is a big supporter of our LNG plan, and part of the reason for that is that they also see it as a way forward for Canada to make a huge contribution to fighting global climate change.

There are 150 coal plants on the books in China today. The only way that those plants and the ones that come after will be stopped is if they have a transitional fuel to move to.

TF: B.C.’s 2020 greenhouse gas target, reduction of emissions by a third, is another target that isn’t going to be met. Why?

PCC: When the government brought in the carbon tax, it was based on the assumption that other jurisdictions around us were going to eventually catch up. None of them have. There comes a point where the carbon tax can only get so high before we start chasing all those jobs out of the province.

TF: Your advisory committee says the carbon tax needs to go higher starting in 2018 if it’s going to have an effect. Do you have any other choice?

PCC: Let’s figure out what the national goal is going to be, which we don’t know yet.

TF: On a related topic, transit spending. Your new minister Peter Fassbender has talked about a “new day” in Ottawa and he’s downplaying the idea of another referendum for new funding sources. Is that off the table now?

PCC: It may be possible that the federal government wants to invest more in transit, and take up some of the slack from the local government level.

TF: On LNG, oil and natural gas prices continue to go down, and supply continues to go up around the world. Did you see any positive signs this year?

PCC: What I saw this year was developing countries, especially China, making a firm commitment to reduce their emissions. The only way for them to do that is to move to a greater degree to natural gas, and the bulk of their industry is still located on the east coast of their country, a long way from Russia and close to B.C.

TF: Are we going to see some policy action on high housing costs in 2016, and will there be some relief from the property transfer tax?

PCC: You’ll see in the February budget, but we are looking for ways to provide some relief for home buyers.

TF: We’re starting to see government advertising ramp up. We saw a lot of Jobs Plan advertising before the 2013 election, we saw the federal government do it with their Economic Action Plan, which was very expensive, and to most people’s eye self-serving or political in nature at taxpayers’ expense. Is that what we’re going to see in the next year and a half?

PCC: It won’t be political. I think some of that was, really, political. You will see more information-based advertising out there, talking to people about for example, the Registered Education Savings Plan.

TF: Not Jobs Plan 2.0?

PCC: I don’t think that’s in the plan. I wish I could say to you no, never, but I, you know….

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

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