Government memo raises concerning questions

Future of CleanBC plan

Last week, there was a leaked memo from B.C.’s Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Minister Josie Osborne. This memo not only revealed the minister’s haphazard approach to governance but also brought to light deeper concerns regarding the government’s CleanBC plan.

The plan, meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has been under significant scrutiny, particularly from Ken Peacock, chief economist of the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) and analysts at BMO Capital Markets.

Peacock's discovery of economic modelling of the CleanBC suggests a grim outlook for B.C.'s economy, projecting it to be $28.1 billion smaller by 2030 due to CleanBC policies. This revelation, indicating substantial setbacks across various sectors, has raised alarms about the potential for more than 200,000 job losses and economic contraction??.

Furthermore, BCBC’s analysis, echoing Peacock's concerns, predicts a dire slowdown in B.C.’s average annual economic growth rate to a mere 0.4% in the latter half of this decade. This slowdown, bordering on recession territory, would translate to a significant reduction in real per capita income for households across the province—more than $11,000 per family. That would be the largest shrinking of the B.C. economy on record.

Instead of addressing these economic warnings head-on, the government and the minister appear to be in panic mode.

The Osborne memo referred to proposing “big and shiny affordability measures” to distract British Columbians from the underlying issues facing them due to government policy, like CleanBC. Further, the memo outlines implications for private sector interactions that are deeply concerning.

The government’s intent to apply leverage on companies, like green energy and metals company Fortescue Future Industries, to scale down their projects in B.C. — such as the establishment of a green hydrogen and ammonia plant in Prince George — is a direct attack on our economic stability.

This attempt to strong-arm private businesses contradicts the government’s public endorsements of clean energy initiatives, like hydrogen fuel??.

BC United, led by experienced voices like MLA Mike de Jong, has rightfully challenged the government's intimidation tactics towards investors.

The Osborne memo also highlighted the expectations of the CleanBC requirements are “uneconomical” and suggests a hasty and superficial approach to policy-making, focusing more on political gain than on the long-term economic and environmental well-being of British Columbians. British Columbians expect a government that prioritizes sound economic policies, fosters a healthy investment climate and engages in transparent and principled governance.

Previous government’s in B.C. have all done their level best to balance the protection of our environment with a healthy and vibrant economy. As the representative of Kelowna-Mission, and a BC United MLA, I believe these findings paint a troubling picture of the government’s economic management.

The combination of memo and the economic implications of the CleanBC plan suggests a government grappling with policy consequences it did not fully anticipate. That raises serious questions for me about the government’s ability to navigate the complex balance between environmental sustainability and economic growth.

As your elected representative, I am committed to holding the government accountable and ensuring policies are made in the best interest of our citizens and the economy.

My question to you is this:

Do you agree that the current CleanBC plan needs to be changed or even scrapped? Why or why not?

I love hearing from you and read each email. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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