By Roy L Hales
The leaders of BC’s two largest political parties were in Campbell River over the weekend.
Andrew Wilkinson criticizes NDP forestry
“Last year, and earlier this year, we had an eight month strike at Western. Most of you felt that hard. If you were in Port McNeill, you watched coffee shops shut down permanently; you watched people’s trucks get towed away; you watched people lose their homes,” said Wilkinson.
“And what did the NDP do for that eight months? They did nothing – because they couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to these communities," he said. "They couldn’t be bothered to come out to the meetings.”
“And how many of you were at that meeting with [former MLA] Claire Trevana that made it onto Youtube? We were talking about that on the way down here. It was an embarrassment. When the elected MLA for North Island, where the beating heart if this economy is coastal forestry, can say nothing more than ‘Yes I hear you, I will go and ask my boss in Victoria.”
“And did she do anything in Victoria? — Nothing happened.”
“So you folks, rightfully, got a little fed up. You took your trucks down to Victoria, on February 18th of this year, and said ‘enough is enough.’ You circled the legislature. You showed them that you are proud of what you do. You showed them the investment you make in these massive machines, to do the work you do.”
“Claire Trevana wouldn’t come out to see you. The Minister of Forests wouldn’t come out to see you. They were having a cabinet meeting in that building to the west of where you were parked. And they sat there and looked out the window because they were too embarrassed to come out and saw hello.”
“That’s just plain wrong. Does anybody here with a horn in their truck agree that’s just plain wrong?” prompted Wilkinson.
The NDP responded with a press release, in which they pointed out that the number of jobs in the forestry sector dropped 40% when the Liberals were in power, and 45 per cent less logs were processed.
In their 2020 election platform, the BC NDP have promised to work with First Nations governments, labour, industry, and environmental groups to “implement recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review” to protect old-growth forests.
The Ancient Forest Alliance pointed out that Premier Horgan did not promise to implement all of the panel’s recommendations and he may choose to “implement only those recommendations that have the least impact on the logging industry’s short-term economic interests.”
One of the unknowns in this riding, is what effect will having a relatively high profile candidate like Alexandra Morton do for the Green party?
So perhaps it is not surprising that when John Horgan spoke at the Campbell River Museum Sunday morning, he had a lot to say about wild salmon and fish farms.
Horgan said BC is currently partnered with the federal government on the $143 million BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which he promises a re-elected BC NDP government would work to double.
As for salmon farms, Horgan said. “The vast majority of responsibility is with Ottawa. British Columbia issues the licenses for tenures, which is basically the land under the sea that the fish farms are attached to. So our responsibility in this area is limited, but we can in fact pull tenures. so [in 2017] we sat down with industry, indigenous leaders in the Broughton Archipelago, as well as communities, and we’ve now closed, I think, a dozen farms in the migratory route of the salmon through the Broughton,” said Horgan.
“We’ve made a commitment that if the industry does not have buy-in from indigenous populations as well as communities by 2022, we’ll start to phase out those farms as well," he added.
In a recent interview, Morton said, “unfortunately, most of the tenures in the Discovery Islands are into the +2030s … all the tenures are extended to the point where I believe the Fraser sockeye will simply go extinct.”