Opposition House Leader visits Haida Gwaii

  • Jul. 25, 2012 8:00 a.m.

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, the official opposition house leader in Victoria, was on Haida Gwaii this week to talk to islanders about the Enbridge pipeline and proposals for liquified natural gas pipelines and terminals on the north coast. Mr. Horgan said he heard the Enbridge opposition loud and clear, but many islanders have not yet made up their minds about the natural gas proposals and want to learn more. Several companies are proposing to build terminals in Kitimat and Prince Rupert so that liquified natural gas (gas that has been chilled so it can be transported by tanker) can be exported to Asia. Although North America has a glut of LNG right now, Asian markets are hungry for the fuel. Mr. Horgan said there are at least two serious proposals to build LNG terminals at Kitimat, and another two are proposed for Prince Rupert. It might be a great opportunity for northern BC, he said – but as the opposition critic for energy, he wants to hear more from the people who live here. “People are very much opposed to the Enbridge proposal but are prepared to hear more about liquified natural gas,” he said. “These are two energy proposals that will have an impact on islanders and islanders’ way of life.” Mr. Horgan also checked out the tsunami debris on the beaches while he was here, saying he wanted to see first-hand what his NDP colleague, North Coast MLA Gary Coons, has been talking about. “I wanted to see for myself what the impact is today, and the logistics,” he said. Mr. Horgan said he has wanted to visit Haida Gwaii ever since he worked in an Ottawa office next door to MP Jim Fulton 25 years ago. Just starting his career and working as an assistant to another MP, Mr. Horgan would often hang out in Mr. Fulton’s office, the centre of laughter and mischief on Parliament Hill. When Mr. Fulton spoke about Gwaii Haanas in the House of Commons in 1987, Mr. Horgan was there and recalls that it was the best speech he has ever heard anyone make. “It sent thrills down my spine,” he said. “It’s taken me 25 years to get here, but now I understand what he was speaking about.” Mr. Horgan worked in Ottawa and then Victoria as a public servant for many years, and was first elected as an MLA in 2005. With a provincial election less than a year away, Mr. Horgan said he’s eager to start campaigning. “I’m very positive, the polls are obviously encouraging, but we have to continue to earn the respect of voters,” he said. “Anything could happen.”

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