A vision for the future still needs money to work.
A vision for the future, that’s how best to describe this week’s Throne Speech. Just imagine a “Prosperity Fund” that takes incremental revenues from the Liquefied Natural Gas business and protects that money for future generations. That’s what Alberta did in the 1970’s with their Heritage Fund, and that’s what we are proposing to do here in B.C.
The magnitude of the LNG Prosperity Fund is astounding. Perhaps $100 billion could find its way into a fund that would provide many benefits to this and many future generations of British Columbians. Pay off the debt, improve affordability for families, eliminate the PST; all of these are options if we manage for the future. Some will be tempted to grow government now but that strategy is only for those wanting to repeat the past, not look to the future.
Vision often attracts criticism and we’ve heard a bit of that this week from certain quarters of society. The criticism most frequently heard has been that LNG is too far out in the future, how can government possibly plan that far in advance? To my best recollection, that was the same criticism leveled at WAC Bennett when he planned and built the “Two River System”, the big dams and energy generation and transmission systems that we all benefit from today. Just imagine where we would be today if Bennett had listened to the naysayers then.
Imagine where we would be today if forest revenues had been treated as a heritage asset? Towns like Mackenzie, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, McBride, Valemount and Prince George have contributed hundreds of millions to provincial revenues, all spent on important services. What would have happened had the governments of the day taken a portion of that and protected it for future generations?
Our government has a vision for B.C.’s future and that vision can be a reality if we manage our financial affairs carefully, taking into consideration the needs of future generations. Sure, there are those that will compete with us - Australia, the USA, Qatar, Russia, South America, and others - and they will be tenacious competitors. Some will say that our vision is a dream, but a dream is just a vision without a plan. Our plan is very real and our plan will deliver prosperity for many generations into the future.
In the coming weeks I expect we will hear more from those that don’t embrace our vision. To those I ask the question, “What is your vision and how will you generate the new revenues to pay for it?”