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Premier: LNG one way to grow economy

Premier Christy Clark says she is not pinning BC's economic future on Liquified Natural Gas.

Clark, who also serves as MLA for Westside-Kelowna, says Tuesday's throne speech opening up the second session of the 40th Legislature offers a clear vision for growing the province's economy.

Speaking with Castanet following the speech from the throne, Clark says it's was all about grasping an opportunity for economic growth.

She says the province can go one of two ways: It can either manage decline with one-and-a-half or two per cent growth like most of the rest of the Western world or grasp the opportunity and say yes to economic growth.

"If we do that, we can sustain the institutions that we love - the things that make us Canadians. Health care, education, those things we do better than almost anybody else in the world," says Clark.

"We can only manage to sustain those if we find ways to grow our economy and that's what the throne speech was about."

Clark says Liquified Natural Gas is only one option open to the province.

"In the throne speech we talked about the opportunities for agriculture, forestry, mining, technology and Liquified Natural Gas. We're working on growing all of them," stated the Premier.

"But the thing about natural gas that's unique is it's not an industry that's existed here before. It's taking some heavy lifting to get it off the ground and make sure we create something out of nothing. That's why it has required so much focus. But, we are not forgetting about forestry, or agriculture, or mining or technology or any of the other industries that sustain us."

In Tuesday's speech from the throne, the Clark government intends to put forward a second straight balanced budget, followed by action on these key priorities.

  • An overall framework for LNG that includes taxation, environmental actions, and First Nations benefits.
  • A 10-year skills training action plan for youth and older workers who want to upgrade their skills.
  • A 10-year transportation plan to prioritize projects in greatest need for investment.
  • A plan for personalized education for students and a decade of labour peace
  • Legislation to modernize BC's liquor policies.
  • The Water Sustainability Act to protect water for future generations
  • A new strategy to grow BC's tech sector
  • A long-term, comprehensive strategy to move toward a violence-free BC

As for the electorate of Westside-Kelowna, Clark says there is good news concerning specific local areas including agriculture.

She says the province is going to work hard to grow agricultural exports.

"We learned a lot from what we have done in forestry where we created an industry government venture that opened up huge, new markets for us. That's why we have broken all records for forestry exports to China," the Premier stated.

"We need to do the same for agriculture.  (And) obviously wine is a major (industry) for that but so are all the other food products that we produce on the westside."

Clark also hopes to help the budding Okanagan technology sector.

"There is a huge technology hub that is emerging in an around Kelowna," says Clark.

"We are going to, over this next year, put a major focus on that, in growing that sector because in the Okanagan Valley we are a retirement community, we are a tourism community and we are an agricultural community. I want to add a new and exciting sector with huge potential for job growth to that in technology.

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