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“If the project was in front of us before shovels hit the ground, this is not the direction we’d have taken” says Energy Minister

VICTORIA, B.C. — Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said that the NDP government made a reluctant decision to continue construction of the Site C after Monday’s announcement by Premier John Horgan.

When asked about the process in coming to the decision to continue with the project, Mungall said that, “It was not an easy decision. On a personal, as well as a policy level, it was very difficult. Each one of us, myself included, spent a lot of time criticizing the BC Liberals for the way they pursued Site C and the lack of due diligence and good process around it.”

Mungall also hinted that the had the project not already been under construction for just over two and a half years, the NDP would have decided to scrap the project. However, she said that since scrapping the project to the tune of $4 billion would result in Hydro rates jumping by 12 percent.

“We just couldn’t put a halt to the programs that British Columbians want from this government such as child care and making life affordable. The hit that B.C.’s finances would have taken with a $4 billion debt and nothing in return as a result of that debt would have meant those services like child care just wouldn’t have been on the table anymore.”

Mungall also issued a conciliatory response to the announcement by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations that they will be seeking both an injunction against construction of Site C and a Treaty Infringement lawsuit against the provincial government.

“It’s not about combatting, its about reconciliation. And we appreciate that West Moberly has been saying that they will be fighting this every step of the way. They made that very clear when Minister Fraser and I met with them in Fort St. John as part of our consultation process with the Treaty 8 First Nations.”

She added that the provincial government will be actively working with area First Nations, including possibly setting up a Peace River Legacy Fund as suggested by the Saulteau First Nation. Mungall said that those processes toward reconciliation will occur over the long term, though beginnings of that will likely not begin immediately.

Asked if she plans to visit the Fort St. John area in the wake of today’s announcement, Mungall explained that she won’t be making many tours during the winter break from the Legislature. “We’re heading into the holiday season, which also means terrible weather for my local airport, so I’m not going to be chancing a lot of tours coming in and out of Castlegar this winter season.”

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