Site C ‘deadline’ passes; game of chicken still on

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
June 12, 2017 - 1:00pm

KAMLOOPS — The four-day deadline on Site C came and went on the weekend and the sun still rises in the morning.

Last week, Premier Christy Clark gave the NDP and Greens until Saturday to decide whether they’ll ask that work on the $9-billion dam be stopped. Otherwise, she wrote in letters to the two party leaders, the province risks a $600-million, one-year delay of the project.

It was a false deadline, one clearly meant to put the squeeze on John Horgan and Andrew Weaver. Horgan refused to be cornered, brushing off Clark’s ultimatum by repeating his proposal for an independent review and telling her she should hurry the process for turning over power if she’s worried about time.

He was actually the one who started the dueling letters, asking B.C. Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald to hold off on finalizing any contracts without a penalty-free cancellation clause until it’s settled who the next government will be. He also wants the dislocation of two families in the way of the dam to be delayed.

Under a deal made between Horgan and Weaver, construction on the dam would carry on until a proposed B.C. Utilities Commission review is done on the dam’s economic viability. There are differences of opinion on how long that would take.

Suddenly, Site C promises to become the defining difference between the Liberals and NDP, possibly for decades to come. Clark has put the choice in stark terms: kill the project, and you kill 2,200 jobs.

It’s a classic move to set up a dichotomy between right and left, and Horgan’s response on that one is weak — he says replacement jobs will be found somewhere else.

If he terminates Site C, he’ll be tagged for years with a job-killer label that will over-shadow any environmental positives, long-term cost savings and maybe even Hydro rates.

If he doesn’t, he’ll risk the wrath of much of his leftwing base. He’ll be accused of being all talk and no action. And Clark and the Liberals will have won this game of chicken.

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