Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

MLAS CORNER: Concerns of forestry-dependent communities silenced

It’s time for the NDP to include rural B.C. in more than just their words

Last week was the final week of the fall legislative session in Victoria. It was the last opportunity for MLAs to debate legislation this year, and as the Official Opposition, our BC Liberal Caucus was eager to dig into the bills the NDP had put forward and get a better understanding of how they will impact British Columbians.

Unfortunately, whether by poor time management, or by design, the NDP found themselves short the time needed for MLAs to fully debate the bills that had been brought forward. Instead of allowing extra time to ensure that vital legislation touching on Freedom of Information, Indigenous rights, and many other issues had the opportunity to be properly debated, the NDP began to shut down debates that were only just getting started.

Two of the bills in question focused on forestry and will allow for serious changes to tenure, definitions of “special purpose” areas, and many other topics of concern for everyone who depends on forestry.

They will have serious ramifications for the industry, possibly even leading to the loss of thousands of jobs. And yet, all of the changes were made behind closed doors and with no details given to those who would be impacted. As a result, industry stakeholders and First Nations have expressed their concerns about these bills and the complete lack of adequate consultation from government. The NDP have now only given First Nations 30 days to provide feedback — an unreasonably short amount of time given the bills’ significance. Meanwhile, forestry-dependent communities have not even been given 30 days, instead they have absolutely no say in this legislation, despite the possible consequences.

This is just the latest example of government taking little time to understand rural B.C., making decisions without so much as a cursory conversation with those who will be most impacted. It’s time for the NDP to include rural B.C. in more than just their words, and not shutting down rural MLAs as they try to debate important legislation would be a good place to start.


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