VICTORIA - British Columbia Premier Christy Clark's latest throne speech compares her government's pursuit of liquefied natural gas to the almost unbelievable race to land astronauts on the moon in the 1960s, but her critics dismissed the plans as spaced out.
Clark's throne speech, marking the return to the legislature Tuesday after a seven-month break, cast liquefied natural gas as a generational opportunity that must be seized, echoing a message the premier has repeated many times over for more than a year.
Clark warned it will be a challenge to develop the industry, much the same as the space race was more than 50 years ago.
The throne speech offered a slightly revised quote from former United States President John F. Kennedy, who made the case for the moon landing in a famous speech.
"We choose to do this not because it will be easy, but because it is hard," said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon as she read the speech.
"Because it will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
Guichon said Kennedy's space race challenge was made during a time of strong economic growth and the U.S. government could afford space exploration.
In contrast, she said today's economic times are much leaner.
"The central challenge facing that generation was different — they lived in a period of incredible growth," said Guichon.
"They could afford to go to the moon. The challenge facing our generation may be less dramatic. But it is no less important."
Clark said she was drawn to quote Kennedy because he took hold of an opportunity rather than choosing an easier road.
"It is not the easy path," said Clark. "We are going to take the hard path because we must do it. It's speaking to that we need to be ambitious, we need to aspire and we need to be unafraid."
Clark said the Liberals will lay out their LNG framework this year. That will include tax policies, First Nations benefits and environmental measures designed to make the industry the cleanest in the world, she said, though the throne speech included no details.
The throne speech repeated Clark's predictions that the LNG industry has the potential to create up to 100,000 jobs and eliminate the provincial debt, which currently stands at more than $60 billion.
Opposition NDP Leader Adrian Dix said the speech lacked new ideas and should leave many British Columbians more convinced than ever that Clark's Liberals have nothing to offer them.
He scoffed at Clark's allusion to Kennedy.
"For a throne speech so totally devoid of vision, so totally devoid of optimism, so totally devoid of measures to assist people struggling in these times ... to quote someone who had a broader vision of the future only serves to emphasize the lack of it on the part of the premier," Dix said.
Clark's throne speech also said the Liberals plan to introduce a long-term strategy to reduce domestic violence and protect Aboriginals and other vulnerable women. The speech said the plan includes recovery programs to help victims of violence.
The throne speech said the Liberals will also introduce a motion to formally apologize for historical wrongs done to the Chinese-Canadian community.
It said the government will develop three 10-year projects involving transportation, education and skills training.
Guichon said the Liberals will introduce a 10-year skills training plan aimed at helping young people enter the workforce and measures to help older workers looking to retrain.
She said the Liberals also plan to develop a 10-year transportation plan that will identify the areas of B.C. with the greatest need for transportation investments.
The Liberals also plan to pursue their goal of a 10-year labour agreement with teachers.