British Columbians are ready and have the power to help the world cut emissions, create jobs and fill the government treasuries with the development of a liquefied natural gas industry, Premier Christy Clark told a throng of supporters in Fort St. John on Wednesday.
Clark was in town as part of a quick, four-hour trip April 20 to meet with LNG supporters, get an update on the wildfire situation in the region, and meet with civic leaders.
She told the crowd their support for getting the industry off the ground is "doing nothing less than fighting for the life of B.C."
"We are fighting for Fort St. John, we are fighting for Dawson Creek, we are fighting for the Northwest, and we are fighting for 100,000 jobs that will be created across the breadth of this province," she said.
In her five minute speech, Clark touched upon the importance of LNG in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Asia, creating jobs, and hauling in revenues for government, bringing the crowd to follow her in a chant of "let us help."
"In Ottawa, they care about climate change. Let us help you. This is the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet," she said.
"You know that if we can ship it to Asia we can help clean up the world's air. So we say to Ottawa: let us help. In Ottawa, they care about economic growth and jobs Canada's hurting and they're running a deficit. We say to Ottawa: let us help."
Many of those who attended the rally have found themselves hit hard by the latest downturn in Canada's oil and gas industry, either out of a job or with significantly reduced work hours.
Unemployed since October, Murray Farquhar has had to cut back his family's expenses and worries he won't be able to pay for his daughter's college education.
For Rick Schlosser, work has been cut to half-time, and though he counts himself lucky to still be employed as an instrument mechanic, he worries about the young apprentices following in his footsteps.
The two carried a set of placards that read "LNG = Jobs" and waved to motorists as they honked by in support.
"It's impacted us immensely,' said Farquhar, who has been driving truck in the industry since the 1970s but says he hasn't turned a wheel since last October.
Farquhar and his family have had to trim expenses such as telephone plan luxuries, and stopped shopping at Safeway in favour of Wal-Mart.
Still, it hasn't been enough to keep alive Farquhar's plan to help pay his daughter's way through college. She's in her second year of graphic design studies in Grande Prairie, but student loans have had to fill the gap.
"It hurts. I don't want to put my daughter out saddled with debt when she starts working," Farquhar said.
Kickstarting the LNG industry and opening up market access and the job market is critical for today's youth in setting them up for lifelong careers, Rick Schlosser said.
"(The industry) means everything to them," he said.
"This isn't just a five-year thing. This is 40 years they'll be drilling up here to feed those plants. For the young guys, it's a lifelong career."
A small group of Site C protesters attended the rally, but were quickly dwarfed by LNG supporters and were kept away from the stage.
Wildfires in the Peace
Regarding the wildfire situation in the region, Clark was confident the fires in the region will be under control soon. She called it a "devastating couple of days for the community."
"We are doing everything we can possible can to stop these fires," Clark said.
Clark noted there was adequate staff in the Northeast to handle the fires, but more was needed.
"It's going to be a long hot summer. We need as many boots on the ground as possible."
Clark thanked fire crews on the ground for all the work they've done so far.
"Many of us would to have the courage to do it but they do it to protect us," she said.
"We will deploy all the resources to the northeast to get these in control."