Site C Approval Puts Corporate Profits Over People’s Interests

Statement from the Communist Party of BC, Dec. 12, 2017

The Communist Party of BC (CPBC) believes that the Dec. 11 decision by the provincial government to approve the completion of the Site C dam was a monumental error, and we will support both grassroots resistance and the ongoing legal and political efforts to block this project.

The feeble argument by Premier Horgan – that the decision was a difficult one, forced by circumstances beyond his control – simply does not stand up to close examination. Along with organized resistance by local activists, which brought hundreds and thousands of people to the streets countless times to protest Site C, many members of the NDP government have also long supported the campaign to stop Site C for a wide range of important reasons, including the need to respect the inherent rights of First Nations peoples, the importance of preserving valuable

agricultural land and the natural environment, and the combination of inflated projections of future revenues and consistently underestimated construction costs. Moreover, when First Nations communities expressed strong opposition to the NDP’s decision to approve Site C, Premier Horgan simply responded by stating that they are “not the first to disappoint” indigenous peoples. Approving Site C is not solely a “disappointment” to First Nations, but rather reflects the ongoing colonization of indigenous lands, which will now continue being extracted for the profit of big corporations. Stopping Site C is a necessary step towards fighting colonization, which is why our Party stands in solidarity with indigenous nations across the province who have struggled hard to prevent Site C developments.

Essentially, opponents of Site C (including our Party) believe that the government’s decision is a surrender to powerful political pressures from right-wing forces. This decision puts the interests of corporations and the capitalist class over the interests of the majority of people in B.C., particularly indigenous nations and youth, who will lose much more than they will ever gain as a result of environmental damage. As such, the approval of Site C has bitterly disappointed huge numbers of British Columbians, including some NDP supporters, who had hoped that the defeat of Christy Clark’s Liberals made cancellation possible.

Those hopes received an initial blow last summer when the government did not put an immediate moratorium on Site C, allowing the project to proceed as the Liberals had planned, costing huge amounts of taxpayer dollars with the aim of making cancellation unfeasible. Then, the BC Utilities Commission hearings into the project raised hopes again by agreeing to receive input on the wider social and environmental impacts of Site C. The information released during in September and October about the ballooning costs of the project should have been the final, conclusive evidence to scrap Site C. Instead, alarmist warnings about BC Hydro utility rate increases in the event of cancellation became the deciding factor, indicating that the government chose to put the enormous costs of completing this boondoggle onto future generations of British Columbians rather than face short term political heat.

How much this decision will cost the NDP in political terms at the next election remains to be seen, but the government has certainly lost credibility among British Columbians who prioritize Indigenous rights and environmental sustainability. Site C approval has bitterly disappointed advocates of a shift away from the short-sighted policies of profit-driven corporate mega-projects and export of energy and raw materials, towards pro-people strategies such as developing the green energy sector, investing in public transit, expanding social programs, health care and education, and implementing a shorter work week with no loss in take home pay. Those who argue that the government’s decision was necessary to save jobs should be reminded forcefully that the billions of dollars poured into this speculative project would have created far more employment if invested in crucial infrastructure needs and social programs.

The Communist Party of BC urges ongoing resistance to Site C, and a decisive shift away from economic policies based on corporate-driven resource extraction megaprojects. It’s time to put the needs of people and the environment ahead of corporate greed!

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