The events over the past week surrounding the protest against the Coastal Gaslink pipeline revealed the NDP is reluctant to give up its activist roots, even when it involves an economic benefit to the whole province.
The latest incident occurred when forests minister Doug Donaldson chose to side with the protesters and turn his back on a duty to uphold the law.
The BC Supreme Court had ordered that illegal blockades be removed, yet Donaldson couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the site one day before RCMP were required to step-in because, in his own words, he wanted to “support and recognize that hereditary chiefs have the responsibility of stewardship.”
This flies in the face of the fact that all twenty First Nations running along the pathway of the 670 kilometer pipeline have already signed benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink.
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Donaldson’s actions were criticized by both sides and has effectively called into question his credibility as a minister to facilitate economic development in rural and northern British Columbia.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice fanned the flames even more when she posted to social media that “The elected band council system is a colonial construct with the historic intention of annihilating Canada’s First Peoples.”
Rice’s comments pretty much enraged elected chiefs and band councils along the entire pipeline route (and in fact, virtually every democratically elected First Nations leader across the country) who have signed economic benefit agreements on behalf of their people to help impoverished communities lift themselves out of some horrific living conditions.
Contrast Rice and Donaldson to John Horgan last October when the Premier proudly welcomed the $40 billion LNG Canada announcement as one of the largest private sector investments in the history of the country.
All of these characters have to decide whether they are protest activists or a government that respects the rule of law and promotes the economic progress of our province as a whole.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo Chilcotin.