A new prosperity fund from natural gas revenue and a renewed commitment to Asia-Pacific trade highlighted a pre-election throne speech Tuesday.
Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell said both items will be cornerstones of a Liberal election platform in advance of the May 14 vote.
The government projects it can create an endowment fund from up to $100 billion worth of royalties from natural gas exploration in the province over the next 30 years. The interest from that fund could be used for things like paying down the debt or eliminating the provincial sales tax.
"We want to make sure it's an endowment for future generations so that when our kids and grandkids grow up, that money is available for use well into the future," Bell said, noting the $100-billion figure is a best estimate based on what the government projects will happen to the price of gas over the next three decades.
NDP candidate Bobby Deepak, who will be Bell's opponent in Prince George-Mackzenzie,described the speech as "airy."
"The Liberals would rather announce a fantasy fund for the future than take care of the real needs of British Columbians today," he said. "These plans are two elections down the road and we have a lot of problems today that haven't been dealt with in the throne speech or by the Liberals in the last term."
Deepak also noted the absence of Prince George in the speech, in particular no mention of the Wood Innovation Design Centre.
"In past throne speeches the B.C. Liberals have made a big deal about the Wood Innovation Design Centre, touting it to be an iconic building, touting it to be one of the world's largest [wood buildings]," he said. "Now we didn't hear anything about the [centre], which leads me to believe that they've possibly given up on it."
Deepak would have preferred to see more of an emphasis on skills training, forest health and youth and seniors issues.
While natural gas dominated the resource discussion in the speech, the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline got a brief mention. The Liberals restated the five conditions they set out on the $6.5 billion project, which aims to connect Alberta's oilsands with Asian markets via a pipeline to Kitmat.
In the speech, the government said the first four conditions, which relate to environmental concerns and Aboriginal consultation, must be met before the fifth condition relating to a fair share of resource revenue will even be discussed.
Bell said getting the first four conditions met first was not a new requirement, but Premier Christy Clark and her Alberta counterpart Alison Redford have met to talk about the revenue piece already. Bell said those discussions were about all five conditions, not just revenue.
"I think the order matters because we're not even interested in talking about the revenue piece until we know that the first four are covered," Bell said.
While the Liberals have yet to support Northern Gateway, Asia-Pacific trade was another major point of emphasis during the speech. The government has pledged to create a new organization in conjunction with the federal government, the business community and education institutions to better facilitate trade.