Green Leader Andrew Weaver claims NDP Site C decision made months ago

Click to play video: 'The fallout of the Site C decision'
The fallout of the Site C decision
WATCH: The fallout of the Site C decision – Dec 11, 2017

The leader of the B.C. Green Party is apologizing to the mayor of Fort St. John, after claiming the NDP had promised her months ago that the Site C dam would go ahead.

Andrew Weaver initially made the allegations on CKNW’s The Jon McComb Show Tuesday morning.

LISTEN: BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver says NDP had already decided on Site C

Speaking with McComb, Weaver claimed that on a trip to the Peace Region, Horgan had made private assurances to Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman that the $10.7-billion project would indeed be built.

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Andrew Weaver: “Mr. Horgan, when he was up in Fort. St. John, told the mayor … Lori Ackerman, to her face, not to worry, the Site C dam is going to go ahead.”
“We were told that … when we visited on June the 20th of this year, that he had told her and given her assurance that it was going ahead.”

Jon McComb: “Is there proof of that? Were there witnesses, was there tape?”

Andrew Weaver: “My colleagues, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olson were in the room when that was said.

“It’s why we were suspicious about this decision, because she told us straight to our face.”

LISTEN:  New allegations on Site C dam decision

Reached for comment, Mayor Ackerman said it’s not her place to wade into a he-said she-said debate between party leaders.

“If we’re going to have a conversation about what every politician says in an undocumented conversation in my office, then he should be aware that it’ll be every conversation that every politician has had with me,” Ackerman said.

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She followed up with a tweet, writing “My conversation with [John Horgan] was YEARS ago. About the same time that [Andrew Weaver] was in favour of Site C as well.”

READ MORE: BC NDP to proceed with Site C dam, total cost raised to $10.7B

Weaver subsequently apologized to Ackerman and walked the allegation back, tweeting that in light of when Horgan and Ackerman’s conversation had happened “clearly it is not relevant to present [BC Utilities Commission] process.”

Nonetheless, Weaver was insistent the NDP’s explanation that finishing the dam was the only financially prudent option was “hogwash” and “political spin.”

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He said if the NDP was worried about the effects of $4 billion in debt on the province’s books, it wouldn’t have scrapped tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, a choice he described as a cynical vote-buying measure.

That said, Weaver isn’t ready to topple the NDP government over the dam, and would have little recourse to. His power-sharing deal with the New Democrats specified only that the dam be sent to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for review.

LISTEN: NDP defend Site C approval

The NDP, meanwhile, is defending the decision to complete the dam — one that has opened a rift with First Nations and environmental groups.

Speaking with McComb on Tuesday, Energy Minister Michelle Mungall reiterated her government’s assertion that, in the end, the Christy Clark government “wanted to get [Site C] past the point of no return, and they succeeded.”
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Finishing the dam was necessary to ensure there was enough money in government coffers to carry out their ambitious election promises, she said.

READ MORE: Site C gets the go-ahead, now here come the lawyers

The cost of scrapping the dam, including money already spent and the cost of repairing the site, was pegged at about $4 billion by the BCUC.

“The way how that $4 billion would impact the overall debt ceiling would result in us possibly losing our credit rating, therefore causing… hundreds of millions of dollars in just interest payments, it would have a negative impact in terms of our ability to borrow, and the list goes on,” Mungall said.

Mungall said BC Hydro ratepayers would have also been saddled with an immediate 12 per cent rate hike; by finishing the dam, she said, they’ll see a one per cent hike in both 2025 and 2026, with the cost of the dam being spread out across 70 years.

Mungall also said that while her party disputes assessments that power from Site C is needed any time soon — nobody is arguing B.C. won’t need it eventually, and that the dam will provide reliable electricity, some of which can be sold outside of the province.

READ MORE: Site C opponents slam project ahead of anticipated green light

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“I’ve personally been very, very critical of Site C. I wouldn’t say that I’m now pro-Site C by any stretch. I would have preferred to have had the chance to say no to this project before shovel hit ground,” she said.

“But that’s just not where we were, and we had to deal with the reality as it is today.”

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