February 12, 2013 BC Chamber Public Affairs Update

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February 12, 2013
In This Issue
Oil and Gas Industry Applies for Tax Breaks to Encourage LNG Development
Independent MLAs Advocating for Electoral Change
New Poll Shows 22 Point Lead for BC NDP
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in BC.
Oil and Gas Industry Applies for Tax Breaks to Encourage LNG Development
Canada’s oil and gas industry is seeking a potential $2 billion tax exemption to encourage the development of liquid natural gas (LNG) plants in British Columbia.Spearheaded by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in advance of the 2013 Federal Budget, the move is designed to create a more favourable investment environment. Specifically, industry is requesting a 30 percent capital cost allowance – a substantial increase from the current eight percent. LNG plants would need to be re-classified as manufacturing plants, as they are currently part of the transmission process.

In practical terms, such a re-classification would allow industry to write-off 90 percent of their capital investment in seven years, rather than the current 27 years. In competing markets, such as the US and Australia, the after tax cost of spending for industry is less.

BC’s Minister of Energy Hon. Rich Coleman has been advocating for the LNG tax change reflected in the 2013 Federal Budget.

Independent MLAs Advocating for Electoral Change
Independent MLAs – former BC NDP member Bob Simpson, former BC Liberal John van Dongen and Vicki Huntington – have announced that they will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to change BC’s fixed election date from the Spring to the Fall.The MLAs claim that a Fall fixed election date will allow adequate time for the government’s budget to be audited before parties start campaigning for the election, and the BC Chamber of Commerce has stated in the past that this separation would make the budget cycle far less cumbersome.

In addition, the independent MLAs said they will include other proposed reforms, including: secret ballot voting for the Speaker of the Legislature; more free votes; election financing reforms, including a ban on corporate and union donations and BC resident-only donations to political parties; and for Elections BC to run political party leadership contests.

New Poll Shows 22 Point Lead for BC NDP
new Justason poll released last week shows support for the BC NDP stands at 48% of decided voters, unchanged since October, while BC Liberal support stands at 26%, also unchanged. Following leadership concerns and a drop in support in October, the BC Conservatives have regained some of their losses (now at 12%). Support for the BC Greens stands at 11%.According to the poll, healthcare along with the economy were the top election concerns (11%) followed by pipeline and tanker proposals (9%). Taxes including HST, employment, the environment, education and social issues form a second tier of concerns (5-7% each).

Top election issues vary by party support:

  • Healthcare for BC NDP supporters (18%);
  • Economy for BC Liberal supporters (20%);
  • Taxes for BC Conservatives supporters (15%), and
  • Environment for BC Green supporters (23%).
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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.

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