It may have been music to the oil and gas industry's ears. But recent comments made by Premier Christy Clark in Fort Nelson have struck a discordant note for the environmental community. Speaking at an industry conference in the northern city, Ms. Clark told attendees, "I'm tired of hearing people say, 'No, I don't want that development. No, I don't want those trees cut down. No, I don't want that mine. No, I don't want that well drilled.'"
"We need to move to yes. We need to move to yes as a province. As citizens. And we need governments to move to yes as well in getting out of the way of economic activity if you want to succeed in British Columbia," Ms. Clark continued, according to comments first reported by trade publication Pipeline News North and confirmed by the premier's office.
But Will Horter, the executive director of the Dogwood Initiative - one of the province's most prominent environmental groups - countered that British Columbians are, "saying yes. They're saying, 'Yes we want sustainable industries in our communities. Yes we want to have a say-so in what happens and decide whether projects are compatible with our vision for our community or not.' They don't like those things being imposed by Christy Clark or anybody else."
University of Victoria political science professor emeritus Norman Ruff was less certain about whether Ms. Clark will pay a political cost for making such comments given the world seems more concerned about jobs being lost than trees being cut down right now.
But he said its noteworthy her language is similar to that of former Encana Corp. president and chief executive officer Gwyn Morgan, who was one of the premier's economic advisors during her leadership campaign.
"It shows she's not just keeping company with people in the oil and other industries but she's absorbing their mindset as well," stated the professor.
This isn't the first time Ms. Clark has made controversial comments that appear to put the economy ahead of the environment. During her run to succeed Gordon Campbell as leader of the Liberals, she made no apologies for supporting the Prosperity Mine proposal near Williams Lake - which is opposed by both environmental and First Nations groups.