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Environment

Bringing the warning from the world’s scientists to the BC Legislature

On November 13, 2017 a second  world scientists’ warning to humanity was published in Oxford University Press’s prestigious journal Bioscience. Signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries, this warning concluded:

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. Soon it will be too late to shift our course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions that earth, with all its life, is our only home.”

This message came 25 years after a similar message was delivered by 1,575 pre-eminent scientists in 1992.

What’s remarkable is that the support for the second warning continues to grow and it has strong support from the British Columbia scientific community.  For example, of the 15,364 initial signatories, 40 were from the University of Victoria and 61 from the University of British Columbia. 554 scientists from Canada signed the initial warning and this number has grown to 994  since the letter was published.

Anyone who has watched the documentary Running on Climate knows that I take the warning very seriously. It was the reason that I ran with the BC Greens in 2013.

Today in the legislature I rose during Members’ Statements to bring the message of these scientists directly to the BC Legislature.

Below I reproduce the video and text of my delivery. I also append the accompanying media release.


Video of Statement



Text of Statement


A. Weaver: In 1992, Dr. Henry Kendall, a Nobel laureate in physics, organized a statement signed by 1,575 pre-eminent scientists that was sent to government leaders of all nations. The statement warned:

Human beings in the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we may wish for human society and the plant and the animal kingdoms and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

Twenty-five years later, a second warning, now signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries was issued. Published last week in Oxford University Press’s prestigious journal Bioscience, this warning concluded:

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. Soon it will be too late to shift our course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions that earth, with all its life, is our only home.”

The warning quantitatively analyzed the nine environmental issues identified in 1992, and they show that in all cases but one, conditions have actually gotten worse and, in most cases, dramatically so.

Yet that one success story offers us so much hope. In 1987, the Montreal protocol was finalized. All 197 countries in the UN have ratified this protocol, and it has led to a dramatic reduction in substances that deplete the ozone layer. And 170 of these 197 countries have already ratified the Paris climate agreement, which formed the basis of discussions earlier this month at the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN framework convention on climate change.

Let us collectively reflect upon the warnings of the world’s scientists, as well as the words of the Gov. Jay Inslee, who addressed the Legislature yesterday. In reference to tackling climate change, he noted:

This is one of the greatest challenges of our time. If we are remembered for anything 100 years from now, this is what we will be judged on. It is time for us rise to that challenge.


Media Release


Weaver delivers warning from 15,364 scientists to the B.C. Legislature
For immediate release
November 22, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, read a warning from a letter signed by from 15,364 scientists in 184 countries to the B.C. Legislature. The Letter, published last week by the Alliance of World Scientists and entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: a second notice,” warns world leaders that there needs to be change in order to save the earth.

“As leaders, we have a responsibility to younger generations to ensure that our actions today do not leave them worse off than we are,” said Weaver.

“I am proud to deliver this message to the B.C. legislature so that we may be reminded of this responsibility and take urgent action to address climate change. B.C. has a history of leadership in climate action. I am proud that our Agreement with the B.C. NDP has once again moved us in this direction, but there remains much work to be done.

“B.C. has a highly educated workforce, abundant natural resources and is one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. If we have the courage to champion a bold vision, we can ensure that B.C. is a leader not only in climate action, but also in the low-carbon economy that is emerging as world leaders step up to reduce emissions.”

The letter states that in order “to prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual…Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

The warning comes 25 years after Dr. Henry Kendall, a Nobel Laureate and former Chairperson of the Union of Concerned Scientists, organized a similar statement signed by 1,500 scientists in 1992.

Weaver is a renowned climate scientist who prior to his election in 2013 served as Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. He was a Lead Author on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s scientific assessments and has authored or coauthored over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers and was the Chief Editor of the Journal of Climate from 2005-2009.

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Washington Governor Jay Inslee addresses the BC Legislature

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee addressed the BC Legislature today. He offered an inspirational message of how Washington is positioning itself as a leader in the emerging 21st century economy, while at the same time taking steps to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As leader of the third party, I was entitled to deliver a brief response.

Below I reproduce the text and video of my response. I also include the video of the Governor’s speech, followed by the videos of the responses by the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition.


Text of my response


A. Weaver: Thank you, Governor Inslee. We’re honoured to have you address the B.C. Legislature today.

My colleagues in the B.C. Green Party and I greatly appreciate your thoughtful words and, in particular, we greatly appreciate your continued climate leadership south of the border.

You know, we know how challenging and, frankly, at times frustrating it can be to work on this issue amongst those vested in the status quo, unable to recognize the economic opportunities that are presenting themselves. We commend your leadership and your perseverance on this file.

Our jurisdictions share a wealth of renewable natural resources that position us uniquely qualified to rise to the challenges climate change will bring. And we possess, as you note, the natural beauty that allows us to attract the best and brightest in the world, by offering them the greatest place in the world to live.

As governor, you’ve recognized this. By already working to attract and expand carbon fibre manufacturing at Moses Lake in rural Washington, by bringing this energy intensive manufacturing facility for BMW’s i-series electric vehicles close to the production of cheap renewable energy, Washington is capitalizing on the emerging 21st century economy. And what’s more, at the same time, you’re reducing transmission line energy loss.

Your government is illustrating that acting on climate change drives innovation, jobs and prosperity for all. With an economy that grew 2½ times the national rate last year, Washington was named the number one place in America to do business in 2017.

This was achieved while simultaneously demonstrating international leadership on the biggest challenge facing humanity.

I hope your demonstrated success reassures British Columbians, as we make bold choices of our own in the years ahead. Not only is it possible for governments to drastically reduce carbon emissions, but doing so spawns innovation, economic growth and job creation.

Finally, when reviewing your book, Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy, I was reminded of president John F. Kennedy’s quote that I often use when talking about climate change.

In 1962, when President Kennedy announced that America would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade, he said this: “We must be bold.” He further said:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

The time to be bold is upon us.

With that, I thank you for giving us so much to aspire to.


Governor Inslee’s address and my response



Response of Premier and Leader of Official Opposition


Site C and LNG in BC: Standing up for the ratepayer

Today in the Legislature I rose in Question Period to question the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources about the need for Site C in light of a nonexistent LNG industry. I further questioned whether or not she would defend the interests of British Columbians and ensure a fair price for our natural gas assets by evoking a cancellation provision with the Progress Energy royalty agreement (as Petronas has not made a positive final investment decision).

In addition, in April, 2015 when Bill 23, The Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act was introduced by the BC Liberals, the BC NDP and I spoke out about profoundly troubling changes to the way Royalty Agreements are managed under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act. Under these changes, the Minister was granted the power to enter into secret agreements with oil and gas companies without the approval of Cabinet. I felt it was important important to see whether the Minister would agree to not undertake such agreements.

Below I reproduce the video and text of the exchange as well as a copy of our accompanying press release.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: I think I’m living in some kind of a fantasy world here in question period today. It’s quite remarkable.

To entice LNG projects to British Columbia in 2014, the previous government promised proponents electricity rates of 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour, but that wasn’t good enough. So two years later, they dropped the rate to 5.4 cents per kilowatt hour.

Now, we know the actual cost of power from Site C, if the government continues with this project. It will be over ten cents a kilowatt hour, while residential customers today are paying 8.6 cents at tier 1 and 12.9 cents per kilowatt hour at tier 2.

Not only are residential customers paying nearly twice what hypothetical LNG companies would pay, they’re also financing Site C to provide electricity to a nonexistent industry through a business model that will lose about five cents for every kilowatt hour of energy produced. That’s B.C. Liberal economics for you. Fortunately, for the members of that party, they have one leadership candidate who hasn’t run on their abysmal economic record.

My question to the Minister of Energy, Mines…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall hear the question, please.

A. Weaver: My question to the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources is this. Will government admit that the only reason to continue with the construction of Site C is to provide ratepayer-subsidized power to a nonexistent LNG industry?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: Thank you to the member for the question. He is aware of the process that is undergoing right now. We’ve just completed the B.C. Utilities Commission review of Site C. That report was delivered just a week ago, and this government has announced that we are now moving into our analysis, and then we’ll be doing proper deliberations.

Next week myself and the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation are actually going to be formally consulting with Indigenous communities and First Nations leaders who are directly impacted by Site C. Saying anything at present about future decision-making would likely prejudge that, and I’m just not going to be doing that.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: The previous government did everything industry asked them to make their LNG dreams a reality. “Jump.” “How high? How often? Where to? How many times?” They wanted to deliver unicorns to each and every one of our backyards, and when they couldn’t squeeze water from a stone, they tried desperately to squeeze even harder.

They even changed the natural gas royalty legislation so that the minister could negotiate sweetheart deals in secret. They signed a deal with Progress Energy.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Weaver: They signed a deal with Progress Energy and its partners that would have locked in low royalty rates for years and cost B.C. millions. But that contract had an escape valve. One of its conditions was a positive final investment on Pacific Northwest LNG by June of 2017. Yet Petronas decided to kill the project.

My question to the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources is this. When will the government stand up for the people of B.C., demand a fair price for our natural gas assets and terminate the long-term royalty agreement with Progress Energy? And will the minister confirm, for the record, that this government will not negotiate royalty agreements in secret with any other gas companies?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: I think there’s no doubt that anybody on this side of the House would agree with the member that the previous government made large promises and absolutely failed to deliver on those promises. I think we’ve canvassed a few of those: the jobs with LNG, the LNG prosperity fund, the “Debt-free B.C.” Families first, as well.

That being said, moving forward, we have committed to work with industry but also to make sure that our regulatory oversight bodies are doing their due diligence, as well, and that they have the resources to do so. On this side of the House, we want to make sure that government is working for all British Columbians and that we’re all together building a better B.C.


Media Release


November 8, 2017
For immediate release
Site C, Hydro finances demonstrate need to reverse trend of failed Liberal economic management: Weaver

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, is calling for an overhaul of BC’s approach to the energy file. Weaver says that the politicization of energy has got in the way of sound fiscal management and evidence-based policies that would protect ratepayers and allow BC to become a leader in alternative energy.

“Energy has been treated like a political tool in this province, depriving British Columbians of the leadership and sound fiscal management they deserve from their government,” said Weaver.

“Today, the NDP announced that they are freezing Hydro rates. B.C. Hydro is in a dire financial position due to the utter failure of the B.C. Liberals to responsibly manage our finances. They raided B.C. Hydro of more than half a billion dollars in dividends last year alone. ICBC is facing a similar financial mess for the same reason.

“Since the Liberals used LNG as a Hail Mary pass to clinch the 2013 election, they have been hell-bent on developing an industry that was never going to materialize. Due to Liberal enticements to LNG companies, British Columbians pay nearly twice as much as hypothetical LNG companies for their Hydro.

“Site C is yet another piece of this disturbing puzzle – it is billions of dollars over budget and was pushed through without proper oversight by BCUC to satisfy the LNG pipedream. BCUC, an independent body whose purpose is to protect ratepayers, was blocked from doing its job because of the Liberals’ blind pursuit to get to yes at any cost.

“The NDP is at a crossroads. They can continue down this path of reckless Liberal fiscal management, or they can keep their promise to be better. While I’m glad they’re reviewing BC Hydro, there are concrete steps they can take to reverse the trend of energy policy being used as a political tool. They can and should cancel the Long Term Royalty Agreement with Progress Energy, who, by the way, is responsible for the two largest unregulated dams in North Eastern BC. They can, and should stop the pilfering of BC Hydro by requiring dividends that, if not stopped, will amount to $2.8 billion by 2020.

“We cannot keep making political decisions while saddling future generations with debt. If the NDP truly want to make life more affordable, freezing hydro rates without developing an energy strategy – which will simply saddle our children with these costs – is not the solution. We have a generational opportunity to use this minority government to chart a new path for BC, one that takes us away from the BC Liberals fiscal mismanagement. It will require us to think big and to take bold action, but that is exactly what British Columbians deserve from their leaders.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Reintroducing Right to Roam Legislation in British Columbia

Today in the legislature I reintroduced the Right to Roam Act, a private members bill that I first introduced on February 27, 2017.

This bill was drafted in response to a number of conflicts in which people trying to hike or walk to rivers and lakes in the backcountry were met with new fences, gates, and threatened with arrest. When leased crown land or uncultivated private lands are blocking British Columbian’s ability to reach public lands and waterways, what are their rights in accessing those spaces?

The bill is a combination of B.C.’s existing Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and Nova Scotia’s Angling Act and seeks to protect and clarify British Columbian’s right to access to crown and cross uncultivated wild lands. It does not increase access for any motorized vehicles, as this would be pose a significant risk to the landscape, wildlife populations, and historic First Nations sites. It does not amend any wildlife legislation or hunting regulations, nor does it limit the rights of property owners.

After its initial introduction, my office has received an endless stream of emails and phone calls from British Columbians who are struggling with this issue in their communities.

It’s clear that this right to access wilderness, especially on leased Crown land, is a debate that we need to have in British Columbia and that is precisely the reason why I felt it was important to reintroduce the bill. While I recognize that the government will unlikely call this bill for second reading, and while I also recognize that there are important amendments that would make it more effective, it’s critical that we keep this issue in the public realm.

I encourage all readers to contact their local MLA to emphasize the importance of bringing Right to Roam legislation to British Columbia.

Below I reproduce the video and text of the Bill’s introduction as well as the accompanying media release.


Video of Introduction



Text of Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Right to Roam Act, 2017 of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper be introduced and now read a first time.

The ability to access and experience nature is a right for all British Columbians, and we must protect it. Spending time outside is vital to our well-being, as well as the protection of our environment. The more time people spend in their local ecosystem, the more they will care about protecting it.

Increasingly, however, British Columbians are finding themselves fenced out of wild areas that have been enjoyed by the public for generations. Fences, gates and signs are blocking people from accessing Crown land.

Since the introduction of this bill for the first time last year, my office has literally received an endless stream of hundreds upon hundreds of emails and phone calls from British Columbians who are struggling with this issue in their communities.

It’s clear that this right to access wilderness, especially on leased Crown land, is a debate that we need to have in British Columbia.

At the recent UBCM conference, I also had delegations come to meet with me on this very topic, as well as local organizations and First Nations across British Columbia. It’s a pressing issue that’s effecting British Columbians from north to south to east to west.

This bill, which is built on a combination of B.C.’s existing Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and Nova Scotia’s Angling Act would re-establish the rights of British Columbians to access public lands, rivers, streams and lakes and to use these spaces to fish, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation in accordance with the law.

Mr. Speaker: You have heard the question.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill M209, Right to Roam Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.


Media Release


Weaver re-introduces bill to increase British Columbian’s access to nature
For immediate release
November 8, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, introduced a Private Member’s Bill that would increase the ability of British Columbians to access public lands. Weaver first introduced the bill, the Right to Roam Act, 2017, in February 2017 under the previous B.C. Liberal government.

“The ability to access and experience nature is a right for all British Columbians, and we must protect it,” said Weaver.

“Spending time outside is vital to our wellbeing, as well as the protection of our environment. The more time people spend in their local ecosystem, the more they will care about protecting it.
“Increasingly, however, British Columbians are finding themselves fenced out of wild areas that have been enjoyed by the public for generations. Fences, gates and signs are blocking people from accessing crown land.

“Since the introduction of this bill for the first time last year, my office has received an endless stream of emails and phone calls from British Columbians who are struggling with this issue in their communities. It is clear that the right to access wilderness, especially on leased crown land, is a debate we need to have in B.C.”

This Bill, which is built on a combination of B.C.’s existing Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and Nova Scotia’s Angling Act, would re-establish the rights of British Columbians to access public lands, rivers, streams, and lakes, and to use these spaces to fish, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation in accordance with the law.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Clean energy, the Columbia River Treaty Entitlement & the folly of proceeding with Site C

Yesterday during budget estimate debates I took the opportunity to question the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on a number of topics involving clean energy projects, the Columbia River Treaty Entitlement and the folly of proceeding with Site C.

The line of questioning was designed to get the Minister to recognize that continuing to construct Site C is a fiscally reckless way forward. My questioning culminated with me asking the Minister directly:

Why are you not making a decision today to terminate Site C?

I was not very impressed with the responses I received.


Video of Exchange



Video of Exchange


A. Weaver: I have a series of very short questions on the Columbia River entitlement. My first question is: how much power is British Columbia entitled to under the Columbia River entitlement?

Hon. M. Mungall: The Columbia River treaty is under the purview of the Minister for Children and Family Development. It’s not under this ministry, unfortunately.

A. Weaver: This line of questioning is very germane to the topic at hand. I would suggest the minister should be able to answer this question, because the amount of power that British Columbia is able to get under the Columbia River entitlement is exactly the same, almost precisely the same as the amount that Site C would provide.

My question, then, to the minister is: how much is British Columbia getting, on average, from electricity sold to the U.S. spot market that could otherwise come to B.C. under the Columbia River entitlement?

Hon. M. Mungall: It’s $125 million at current market prices.

A. Weaver: What does that translate to in terms of per kilowatt hour or per megawatt hour, in terms of costs, that is being sold?

I didn’t mean this question to take so long. It was almost a rhetorical question, because the answer is about $40 per megawatt hour, and that calculation is done very, very quickly.

The reason why I wanted to ask that question is I would have hoped that the minister would be on top of this file. Because $40 per megawatt hour is less than half what the projected future cost…. The revenues being brought to the province are $127 million a year. Why is B.C. Hydro not considering power available under the Columbia River entitlement to meet this hypothetical demand in either the low or medium forecast?

Hon. M. Mungall: Sorry I was taking so long. There’s no need to be antagonistic. I was just trying to get some further information to provide to the member in reference to his question. He doesn’t want that, so okay.

The reason why B.C. Hydro isn’t looking at the Columbia River entitlement is partly that the Columbia River treaty is up for renegotiation. I would hope the member would know that. As a Columbia Basin resident, it’s one of the things that we’ve been working on since well before 2014, the first opportunity to give notice for renegotiation because the treaty comes to an end at 2024. It’s one of the reasons we’re not able to ensure that it’s with any certainty.

I see the member for Kootenay East. He will know this as well. Any Kootenay MLA will know this and know what’s going on presently with the Columbia River treaty.

A. Weaver: Frankly, I find that answer quite remarkable. Of course I’m aware about the Columbia River treaty, and Site C is not to be built any time before 2024…. I mean, it will be 2021 before that’s built. The reality is that there is power available today, firm power to the amount available for Site C for any interim costs.

My follow-up question to the minister is this. Why is it that we have about 170 megawatts — or 117, I believe it is — in the standing offer program that’s gone through and there’s no call for power? Why is it that B.C. Hydro did not put a call out for power at ten cents a kilowatt hour and take, accepting those applications in the standing offer program…? Because we know that the price of Site C, as noticed by the BCUC and the ongoing tension cracks that we’re seeing, is going to come in higher than that. Why was no call for power at ten cents per kilowatt hour issued?

Hon. M. Mungall: First, the standing offer program and calls for power were different types of programs.

The call for power — B.C. Hydro did calls for power in 2003, 2006, 2008. After the last one, the recommendation to the previous government was to go forward with Site C rather than another call for power. Their rationale, at the time, was that B.C. needed more firm power, not more intermittent power and that intermittent power was being generated at a higher cost than what B.C. Hydro felt they could do in terms of constructing Site C.

That’s the reason why there hasn’t been a call for power since then. The member will note this government took action in terms of bringing Site C to the B.C. Utilities Commission, as that decision to move forward without a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission was done by the previous government, not ours.

A. Weaver: I correct my previous statement. There are 137 megawatts in the standing offer program ready to go, including 15 megawatts of an amazing solar facility by Rocky Mountain Solar in the Cranbrook area ready to go — on private land, with support of the local community, transmission lines through the property, ready to go, scalable to 50 megawatts. Give them a price. They’ll deliver. We have examples of pump storage on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenays as well, ready to go, but again, B.C. Hydro is not bringing them into the fold.

So my question to the minister is this. In light of the fact that we have the BCUC, why are you not making a decision today to terminate Site C? For four years now, the B.C. Greens have pointed out the fiscal folly of moving down this path solely to deliver to below-market contracts that were signed with LNG proponents that have left British Columbia. Why, based on all the evidence, are we kicking the can down the road until December when a decision could have been made in May, it could have been made in June, it could have been made in September, and it could be made today?

Hon. M. Mungall: I just wanted to ask my staff a quick question. The member brought up pump storage, and I interpreted that to mean pump storage that is active in the Kootenays, and that was something I wasn’t aware of going on. The reason why I wasn’t aware of it is because it’s actually not taking place in the Kootenays. There may be proposals that are currently being developed by some entrepreneurial individuals, but in terms of it actually existing right now, it doesn’t. So I was just curious about that.

To answer the member’s question about why a decision isn’t being made today, why a decision wasn’t being made in May or in June. I think looking back in terms of what has happened over the summer…. The member was very active in it, so I think he knows the answer to those particular timelines.

In terms of today, well, we’ve been very clear with our process. We’ve sent things to the B.C. Utilities Commission, as we committed to the electorate that we would do, as we committed that we would do in our supply agreement with the member and other members of the Green Party. That process has now finalized in terms of the BCUC’s report on November 1. And as we’ve said, to answer the member’s question, we have to do our due diligence. We have to provide appropriate analysis of the B.C. Utilities Commission report. We have to do that due diligence, and we have to take the time appropriate to do so, and so we are doing that.

That being said, we also recognize that there is a lot of uncertainty for people. I mean, I can absolutely empathize with people in the north. I know that members opposite in the B.C. Liberal caucus are representing their interests very well in terms of wanting to make sure that a decision is done in a timely manner, and that’s why we’ve committed to doing that by the end of this calendar year.