Initially, I felt honored to be invited to testify at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. After all, the purpose of our 4,500-kilometre LNG or BUST road trip to Ottawa was to inform the federal government of the job market situation in Fort St. John. I decided to extend my stay to testify.
The study of the committee is “The Future of Canada’s Oil and Gas, Mining and Nuclear Sectors: Innovation, Sustainable Solutions and Economic Opportunities.” I had the naïve notion that I would be asked for my two cents worth on oil and gas. By the first question on how an immigrant of only two years would come across the wealth of information in my opening statement, I felt uneasy and I knew then that it was not just going to be about oil and gas. As Conservative MP Brad Trost, a member of the committee, put it, the committee tried and failed to paint me into a corner.
I opened my testimony about how I have come to love my new hometown Fort St. John and my new country Canada. I felt so blessed last July 2015 when everyone in my family had a job. Even my 13-year-old son then was making more than a dollar above minimum wage. My 13-year-old was making about the daily minimum wage in the Philippines working just one hour in Fort St. John.
My main message was how Fort St. John transformed to having an almost statistically insignificant unemployment rate to having the highest unemployment rate in B.C. in just a matter of seven months. I told them my story of how easily I found a high-paying job and lost that job due to slow economic activity on Jan. 27. The solution to this job market condition is to approve as soon as possible Pacific NorthWest LNG and other liquefied natural gas plants to start an LNG industry in Canada.
I stressed that delays, such as what happened last March 22 wherein the CEAA extended its decision-making timeframe, has human cost in Fort St. John. Since then, real people have lost more jobs, businesses, homes. Progress Energy has pulled out a job-creating $5-billion in spending in the north because of this delay.
I also gave my two cents worth on oil and gas.
1. I would like to see our Canadian natural resources get to market. Three proposals would help in this regard: Pacific NorthWest LNG, the Energy East pipeline, and the Trans Mountain/Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
2. I want the Government of Canada to help defend these projects and make these happen for the sake of Canadian jobs and the economy. Any less will take away jobs from Canadians and reduce our national economy.
3. I want the government to review the Paris Accord agreement, taking into consideration a recent government-funded study that says, “short of an economic collapse, it is difficult to see how Canada can realistically meet its Paris commitments in the 14 years remaining without rethinking its plans for oil and gas development.” It also says “if Ottawa approves only one large LNG terminal in B.C. and if Alberta sticks to its plan of capping provincial emissions at 100 megatonnes a year, emissions from the rest of the economy will have to shrink by 47 per cent to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris climate accord.”
The government should acknowledge that economic progress and the use of fossil fuel go hand in hand. We can’t meet the Paris Accord unless the economy takes a drastic hit.
4. I want the government to consider the global solution to greenhouse gas emmissions are not just Canadian solutions. Canada only produces 1.7 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases. China produces 23 per cent. One project the size of Pacific NorthWest or LNG Canada shipping B.C. LNG into Asia for power generation will displace coal-fired power and GHG emissions offsetting all of B.C.’s annual GHG emissions, plus about 10 per cent of Canada’s.
We did it Fort St. John. We delivered our message and the trip was well worth it.
I will extend the LNG or BUST road trip alone to Halifax wherein we hope to convince the proposed Bear Head LNG plant in Halifax to use Canadian natural gas.
Alan Yu is a Fort St. John resident and founder of FSJ for LNG.