Where They Stand

reponse from:

Ralph Sultan

West Vancouver-Capilano  |   BC Liberal Party   |  Apr 27, 2017
1. What fiscal measures will you implement to ensure that mineral exploration and development remains globally competitive and able to attract investment?

I believe the best path forward is to continue the BC Liberal Government strategy of keeping taxes low, government expenses constrained, and regulation – whether environmental, employment standards, or financial – consistent with a welcoming and responsible climate for mine exploration, development, and operation.

In this regard several fiscal measures are key: maintaining the mine exploration tax credit regime; maintaining low corporate and individual taxes, maintaining our $25 million investment in Geoscience BC, and maintaining experienced staff with relevant education background in key regulatory positions throughout BC and in Victoria.

Going forward, the BC Liberals will phase out PST on electricity for mines, thereby increasing the competitiveness of this province as a place for mineral exploration and development. We will also implement the expanded Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program for 2017/18 to enhance job creation.

2. B.C. industries compete with many global jurisdictions that do not have a carbon tax. What measures will you take to ensure trade exposed industries like mining remain competitive while paying for carbon emissions?

In my view it would be irresponsible to increase the present $30 per tonne carbon tax until the rest of Canada matches BC’s pioneering and UN-applauded carbon tax. Our Premier fought to protect BC’s interests vis-à-vis other provinces to ensure we are operating on a level playing field. In this regard, I do not regard cap and trade schemes as comparable.

3. Do you believe revenue collected from carbon tax should be reinvested in new processes or technologies that further reduce greenhouse gas emissions at mining operations?

No. I believe the original precedent-setting revenue neutral carbon tax formula successfully introduced under Premier Gordon Campbell should remain. However, as the structure of our economy and our tax systems shift over time, it is necessary to revisit and possibly tweak the implementation specifics of the original fiscal promise so that neutrality is preserved. Accordingly, every year in my view, as part of the budget process, the Ministry of Finance in Victoria should publish an updated “carbon tax revenue neutrality memo” showing current calculations and adjustments to the tax regime which may be necessary to maintain fiscal neutrality. The over-riding goal, of course, is that every dollar of carbon tax paid is offset elsewhere by a dollar in tax reduction.

The NDP eye the carbon tax as a lucrative tax bonanza to be diverted into other pet schemes. Inevitably, this would result in a higher overall tax regime, which is harmful to our competitive position.

It would also be useful to extend such analysis to broad industry aggregates, so that, for example, carbon taxes paid by the mining industry, are not offset by income tax reductions for investors in real estate, for example. For every dollar of carbon tax paid by the mining and exploration industry, broadly defined, there should be one dollar of tax reduction for the mining and exploration industry, in my view.

4. What will you do to promote infrastructure development in B.C. that supports mineral and coal exploration and mining (hydroelectric power generation, transmission lines, natural resource roads, railways, ports etc.)?

The provincial government already does a lot – with power lines, transportation facilities and (in conjunction with the federal government and cooperating municipalities) port and shipping facilities. Such infrastructure support should continue unabated. In addition to our existing support for infrastructure, the BC Liberals will work with New Gold Mining to ensure the Ootsa Forest Service Road and other investments necessary to facilitate the Blackwater Mine near Quesnel are ready if the mine is successful in its provincial permitting processes.

5. What will you do to ensure prospectors and mineral explorers have access to as much land as possible to conduct temporary and low impact mineral exploration for valuable, but hidden, deposits?

There is much the provincial government can do to clarify the muddled jurisdictional issues, which impede access to the land. For starters, the government should publish on the Internet all agreements, pending agreements, proposals, and discussions, hectare by hectare, with First Nations across the province, and invite public and industry comment and input before final documents are signed. This should be a basic of free and open public policy impacting Crown Land. “No surprises” should be the rule.

6. What will you do to resolve long-standing land claims? And what are the opportunities to enhance relationships between government, First Nations and industry?

The province’s favouring of interim economic accords with various First Nations bands has, in my view, been a constructive alternative to the difficult and extended Treaty Process. Unless and until the Treaty Process generates further agreements with First Nations, the government should continue with its present approach of one-by-one interim agreements which have the virtue of encouraging economic development, capacity building, and information sharing on a reasonably effective basis.

7. What will you do to encourage new skills development opportunities and support the attraction, recruitment and retention of highly qualified workers needed for B.C. mining projects both now and in the future?

Government should – and I think it does – acknowledge and understand the trained labour supply shortage in our province. This shortage, coupled with waves of retiring staff, stands to inhibit growth of the industry. The BC Liberal Government continues to place a heavy emphasis upon teaching much needed skills in our schools, whether that be mechanics, geotechnical practise, electrical, robotics, equipment operation or carpentry, or whatever. Where necessary, and with the continued cooperation of the provincial and federal governments, the mining and exploration industry should continue to seek to import trained workers from abroad to fill any emerging skills and labour supply gaps. The cooperation and support of organized labour is also important in this regard.

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