The B.C. election campaign focused its attention on the North Island riding this weekend with the leaders of the two largest parties stopping by for events.
BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson was in Campbell River on Saturday, Oct. 17 to hold a “forestry rally” at Inland Kenworth and BC NDP leader John Horgan was in Campbell River on Sunday, Oct. 18, to make an announcement about “protecting and revitalize” B.C.’s wild salmon.
During Saturday’s forestry rally, Wilkinson slammed the NDP’s record on supporting the forest industry and took potshots at outgoing NDP ML Claire Trevena’s lack of action on the forestry file.
Wilkinson criticized the NDP’s handling of the eight-month forest sector strike in 2019, saying the NDP did nothing to bring the strike to a close. The NDP’s lack of action forced forestry workers and contractors to organize a rally on the B.C. Legislature lawn to protest this inactivity. While this rally was going on, the B.C. cabinet, including North Island MLA Claire Trevena and Forest Minister Doug Donaldson, attended a cabinet meeting and did not come out to talk to the rally.
That lack of action wasn’t surprising, Wilkinson said, as under John Horgan ignoring the problems facing British Columbia’s forestry sector has been the NDP’s default position.
“We had the minister of forests say there was no crisis and the parliamentary secretary for forests say there were too many mills,” Wilkinson said. “The NDP simply threw in the towel and let forestry workers and forestry-dependent communities suffer on their own. That was the wrong approach and when we raised it in the Legislature John Horgan told Fraser-Nicola candidate Jackie Tegart to stop whining. Resource communities deserve better and under a BC Liberal government they will get it.”
Wilkinson said that under John Horgan and the NDP, 45 mills have either closed permanently or severely curtailed operations, which has directly impacted 10,000 workers.
In a press release issued following Saturday’s rally, the BC Liberals said they will:
- Implement a more efficient, effective, and responsive market-pricing stumpage system to help keep our industry competitive.
- Work with industry to modernize forest management practices and ensure BC’s forest industry is no longer the highest-cost producer in North America.
- Aggressively work with the federal government to make real progress and reach a fair resolution to the softwood lumber dispute that works for BC.
- Aggressively defend BC’s interests in softwood lumber trade issues.
- Increase investments in silviculture to enhance the province’s tree-planting efforts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Introduce legislation to protect the working forest to provide increased certainty on the land base while protecting and enhancing environmental values.
- Expedited approach to certify mass timber products for structural construction.
- Support development of mass timber structural products
In the rally, Wilkinson also reiterated the BC Liberals’ economic plan that includes the abolition of the provincial sales tax for a year as well as the small business income tax. He also reaffirmed the BC Liberals’ plan to abolish ICBC and open auto insurance to free competition, as well as establish an affordable child care plan, tax credits for seniors as well as take action on the drug problem in the province.
NDP Leader talks wild salmon
On Sunday, Oct. 18, NDP leader John Horgan had to change plans to hold a wild salmon announcement on the Tyee Spit due to rain. It was moved to the Museum at Campbell River instead.
Horgan was there to promise that a re-elected BC NDP would continue bringing people, communities, and governments together to protect and revitalize B.C.’s wild salmon populations.
“Wild salmon are crucial to the success of our economy, the prosperity of coastal communities, and the lives of Indigenous peoples,” said Horgan. “The challenges affecting wild salmon stocks in B.C. are complex. It’s important that we work with people and communities to find solutions.”
Horgan said that the BC Liberals spent 16 years ignoring diminishing salmon populations and pointed to the BC NDP’s efforts in partnering with the federal government to create the $143 million BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. On Sunday, he said the BC NDP would work to double that funding.
“Our BC NDP government has worked hard to ensure wild salmon are protected for future generations,” said Horgan. “We have invested in projects that will help us support wild salmon stocks and fisheries, which are vital to coastal communities, Indigenous peoples, and industries. Together, we will continue that important work in the years to come.”
Horgan said he would also build on the historic, government-to-government Broughton Archipelago process, which brought Indigenous peoples and industry together to create a more sustainable future for all communities and workers.
In a press release issued at the announcement, Horgan said the BC NDP will work to protect BC wild salmon by:
- Supporting innovation in fish hatcheries
- Working to process more BC-caught fish in BC
- Stepping up protection of fish habitat through our biodiversity strategy
- Creating a watershed security strategy
- Establish a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous and local initiatives