NDP leader talks forestry, mining in lakecity

Looking toward the next provincial election BC NDP leader Adrian Dix doesn’t want to make politics about personal issues.

NDP leader talks forestry, mining in lakecity

Looking toward the next provincial election BC NDP leader Adrian Dix doesn’t want to make politics about personal issues.

“It’s about being respectful and that’s the approach we’re going to take. I think Charlie Wyse is an ideal candidate because that’s his approach and my approach as leader,” Dix said during a two-day tour in Williams Lake last week.

“Although I hold the premier accountable and may disagree with her on many things, a list as long as my arm and your arm, I respect her engagement in politics and am not going to make it personal.”

While in the lakecity, Dix met with First Nations, seniors, the Council of Canadians, management from Tolko Industries, people from the tourism sector, and local NDP groups.

He also attended a rally protesting the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The NDP, Dix said, are focused on forest health.

“Any forest minister up until 2001 would have had an understanding of the inventory of forest resources in the province, how many restocked forests there were for example. This government dramatically cut that, such that we’re making very important decisions now without information,” Dix said, adding the inventory needs to be rebuilt and reinvestment of forest health is crucial, as a principle of government.

Thirty-five thousand jobs have been lost in the forestry industry, resulting in a period of intense change in the industry, he noted.

“We have to work with industry, we have to have high standards, we have to invest in forest health, and we have to know what we’re talking about.”

Jobs in communities also need protecting, and Dix suggested the Jobs Protection Commissioner needs to be reinstated so when mills are in trouble there’s an independent person who can come in and assist unions and, in some cases, communities, to get through difficult times.

“We had that in the past and had great success with it. I think we need to do that in a systematic way.”

The forestry issue should not be viewed as an election issue, Dix warned.

“We’re going to be in trouble if it is. We need to be sure that our policy is guided by principles that will sustain our industry in the future.”

Dix reiterated his opposition to the New Prosperity Mine project, saying he agreed with the decision and the recommendation of the environmental review panel set up by the federal Conservative government that said no to the mine in November 2010.

“I’ve been out to Fish Lake and don’t think the new proposal is any different than the old one,” he said.

Seniors advisory council member Audrey MacLise said she welcomed the opportunity to talk with Dix one-on-one.

“We have a lot of people that have to travel to Kelowna to the cancer clinic and for cardiac care. We don’t have any transportation to Kelowna. Our Interior Health bus goes to Kamloops and that’s very helpful and Northern Health allows us to use their medical bus that goes to Vancouver and that too is very helpful because many of the specialists are there. They often have to pay a driver to take them down to Kelowna,” MacLise told the Tribune.

She also broached the “province-wide problem” of home support.

“We need to bump up the service in our area and let people stay in their homes. We don’t have to keep building new buildings. What we need to do is fix our home support service. It’s badly broken. They withdrew many of the services that are necessary such as grocery shopping, basic cleaning, and snow shovelling in the winter. It’s nothing to do with the people that work there; it’s that it’s very restricted in what services they can offer,” MacLise noted.

B.C. is living in a time when there are real constraints on what a government can do, Dix said.

“There are trade agreements that limit direction. We have to say to people what we’re going to do in the four-year term, what we can’t afford to do, but would like to so people know that before. What I think we need to do is have a discussion about what we’d like to do.”

MacLise told Dix it’s time the government did something to address both issues.

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