BC's 2005 Throne Speech

After the opening prayer of the 2005 Throne Speech (“We ask, oh Lord, for you to endow with wisdom the Premier of this magnificent province. We beseech this also for his colleagues and the cabinet and for the other members of the Legislature. We pray that your wisdom will result in truth, in justice, in happiness and in peace for all citizens of our province.”) — kind of a divine scratch-and-win with about the same odds — the Lieutenant Governor went straight to the Liberals’ core election messages:

Your government has identified five great goals for the decade ahead:

1. To make B.C. the best-educated, most literate jurisdiction on the continent;

2. To lead the way in North America to healthy living and physical fitness;

3. To build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, special needs, children at risk and seniors;

4. To lead the world in sustainable environmental management with the best air and water quality and the best fisheries management, bar none; and

5. To create more jobs per capita than anywhere else in Canada.”

Looking more closely into one area in which we at Dogwood Initiative have some expertise — oil and gas, forestry, environmental and resource uses — we wanted to examine in greater detail how the government proposes to “lead the world in sustainable environmental management”.

Hah! Empty words, indeed.

The only mention of energy, oil and gas, and forestry, is in the “best place to invest” section.

In the environmental management section, not a word, apart from the “Alternative Energy and Power Task Force”. Could be anything. Alternative in the Orwellian dictionary of this government could even include the government’s favourite fuel agenda – coal. Or how about uranium?

For Dogwood Initiative’s comments on the “too little too late” promises click here.

The tokenism in allocating money to the environment was obvious. The numbers speak for themselves: $6.5 million donation to support parkland acquisitions and conservation activities; $9 million over the next three years to establish a B.C. Conservation Corps; $7.5 million increase over the next three years to add up to 50 new Conservation Officers and Park Rangers.

This throne speech, not unexpectedly, is all election, no substance. Below you can read some sections for yourself.

Leading The World In Sustainable Environmental Management

A healthy environment is also critical to a healthy lifestyle.

Our stunning natural scenery, diversity of species, wildlife and ecosystems, and our clean air and water, all help define our province to the world.

We can lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none.

That is yet another of your government’s great goals for the golden decade ahead.

Already, much has been done to meet that goal. Your government has acted to acquire and preserve Burns Bog and the Codd Wetlands for future generations.

It established 37 new Class A parks and one ecological reserve, and expanded 34 existing parks and four ecological reserves. It passed legislation to protect species at risk. It modernized environmental protection legislation and acted to clean up contaminated sites.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund is being strengthened with a $6.5 million donation to support parkland acquisitions and conservation activities. While the challenge of land use planning remains, final agreements are on the horizon and drawing near.

The opportunity for the next decade is to improve the management of parks and protected areas, and to improve access for public use and enjoyment. It is to improve wildlife management and conservation practices in general.

To that end, your government will invest $9 million over the next three years to establish a B.C. Conservation Corps. The Corps will provide new employment opportunities for B.C.’s students and graduates to work in our parks and wilderness as a new generation of conservationists.

That initiative will be complemented with a $7.5 million increase over the next three years to add up to 50 new Conservation Officers and Park Rangers.

Major new steps will be taken to improve water and fisheries management. Our water resources are the well-springs that sustain our province and its people. They are the lifeblood of our fisheries.

New resources will be added to help implement the $16 million Drinking Water Action Plan and the $120 million B.C. Community Water Improvement Program. Investments will be made to strengthen the 184 water quality monitoring units now situated across B.C.

The new Pacific Salmon Forum will provide an independent voice to help us safeguard our precious wild salmon resource and improve our aquaculture industry. The Living Rivers Strategy will be expanded this year and new investments will be made in salmonoid enhancement and fish habitats.

Water plans will be advanced in communities across B.C. to implement your government’s new Drought Management Action Plan.

As water stewardship is strengthened, air shed management will also be improved. Your government’s new clean energy strategy will help tremendously in that regard. Your government will continue to fight for cleaner air in the Fraser Valley, by maintaining its opposition to the proposed Sumas 2 power project.

New steps will be taken this year to promote alternative energy in wind, tidal, solar and run-of-the-river power projects. An Alternative Energy and Power Task Force will be established and will report directly to the Executive Council.

The new RAV rapid transit line will vastly reduce vehicle emissions in the Lower Mainland. And new air shed management plans will be supported with improvements to the 146 air quality monitoring units across B.C.

All of these measures will apply sound science to our environmental management and raise it to a higher level in British Columbia.

Will Horter, Dogwood Initiative’ Executive Director, comments on the throne speech in the Vancouver Sun article “$9m-parks plan is ‘too little, too late”.

Throne Speech

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