As political intrigue swirls in Victoria, NDP leader John Horgan came to the East Kootenay to tour the Galloway Lumber Company mill operation and pledge his support for the softwood lumber dispute.
Horgan toured the operation out at Galloway before coming into Cranbrook and meeting with supporters at a local coffeeshop in the downtown core.
Horgan fielded questions from the public ranging from softwood lumber, to addressing the issues around the Speaker of the House and the Site C dam.
On softwood lumber, Horgan pledged his support to fight for a fair agreement with the United States, noting that every time a dispute arises, the international tribunals always rule in favour of Canada.
“I believe we’re going to be successful, we have been every time these challenges come forward, Canada has prevailed and we will again,” Horgan said, “but the sooner we get a deal, the sooner we’re going to put some confidence back into forestry in British Columbia, and more importantly, reduce the anxiety of people who are working in the sector who are concerned about their jobs, concerned about putting bread on the table and I want to make sure we get this done as quickly as possible.”
While the deal is negotiated at the federal level between the two countries, Horgan says that over 50 per cent of Canada’s softwood lumber trade with the Americans is generated from BC.
“We have a critically important role to play,” Horgan added. “I look forward to talking to the Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity about how we can involve ourselves in the negotiations.
“There was a delegation of Premiers who went to Washington last week, but British Columbia did not send a Premier and I believe we need to dial up our political participation.”
David Emerson, a former federal minister of international trade under Stephen Harper, was recently appointed by Christy Clark to represent the province at the negotiating table in Washington DC. Emerson was involved with an agreement that was signed between the two countries in 2006 when he was in Cabinet.
Horgan was adamant in his commitment to stand with and support forestry and natural resource development and extraction in the East Kootenay and the rest of rural BC, despite the NDP and Green opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
“I was selected as leader of the NDP largely because I had an understanding of energy and mining issues as well as forestry,” Horgan said, “and I intend to bring that experience to the Premier’s office and I’m going to surround myself with as many people as I can that will help deliver the message to rural British Columbia, to resource British Columbia, that we stand with them.
“…I support LNG should the markets turn around and should we ensure that we’re getting a maximum benefit to British Columbia, not giving that resource away, but making sure that resource returns dividends to BC.”
The Kinder Morgan pipeline project is a non-starter, however, he continued.
“With respect to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, I firmly believe the contents of that pipeline — diluted bitumen — is a risk too great for our marine environment and for our marine economy. I said that during the campaign, Mr. Weaver did as well,” Horgan said.
“Now having said that, there is a whole bunch of other resource issues that we can focus on. I am a big supporter of the Elk Valley coal industry. I’ve visited most of the mines there over the last year as leader of the NDP. I fully intend to do that again in the days and weeks ahead.”